At approximately 9:55 pm, a fire broke out on the external walls of a hazardous waste incinerator rotary furnace. The furnace’s automatic shutoff function with smoke extraction was triggered. Upon seeing the flames, the team on shift triggered the internal emergency plan, called external emergency services, and began putting out the fire with extinguishers. Overall, staff used four 50kg powder extinguishers and nine 9kg powder extinguishers. When firefighters arrived at 22.15, the fire had been put out. Damage was visible on the western side of the burner line, particularly affecting electrotechnical equipment and related electrical cables set up near the furnace. The zone was taped off to prevent access. The access to the facilities was possible from the morning, 2 days after. 20 employees were technically unemployed. Deliveries were suspended and the flows of the waste were diverted to authorised facilities. Securing the furnace had the following consequences:

  • shutdown of the after-burner which led to the non thermal treatment of the combustion gases from the rotary furnace;
  • opening of the after-burner “cowl” for 1h10. During this period, the combustion gases from the furnace were not treated (by-passing of the smoke treatment system);
  • shutdown of the venting in the rotary furnace, which may have favoured incomplete combustion.

13 days later, a specific soil sampling campaign on the outskirts of the site was carried out, demonstrating that this event had not had any off-site impact. The facility started back up 17 days after the event following repair work. The total cost of the incident (building work and operating losses) was €0.9m.

The fire might have appeared due to fuel oil splashing on the hot walls of the after-burner section of the furnace, causing self-ignition. A few minutes before the fire, the team on shift had turned on the fuel oil burner following a temperature decrease in the furnace to meet regulatory requirements in terms of combustion temperature. As the hose was destroyed by the fire, the operator was not able to determine the cause of the splash precisely. Several hypotheses are possible: hose disconnected, leaky seal, or leaky fuel oil hose. The fire was brought under control quickly as operators had been trained to use firefighting media quickly and effectively.

Following the event, the operator:

  • updated its internal emergency plan, particularly the terms and conditions of reporting to local authorities;
  • made technical modifications to its facility;
  • shared feedback from this event with its other group sites.

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