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Aqua Metals forced to halt operations after fire at lead-acid recycling plant

Tue, 12/03/2019 - 15:40 -- Paul Crompton

Lead-acid battery recycler Aqua Metals is counting the cost of a fire this week that caused ‘significant’ damage to the Aquarefinery area of its Nevada, US, plant.

The company’s equipment, including all 16 AquaRefining modules, control wiring and other supporting infrastructure, were damaged by the heat and smoke from the fire on 29 November.

After initial damage assessments, the company believes it will incur a cost and delay in operating any processes within the plant, although it was not able to say how long, and at what cost.

The company does, however, expect the recovery and rebuild of the AquaRefining area could take several months or more. It is working to coordinate recovery activities and plans with its supportive operations management and maintenance partner, Veolia.

The cause of the fire is unknown with the company working with authorities and other parties to investigate the origin of ignition and root cause.

There were no injuries as the building was vacant at the time.

The plant’s firewall spared the key front-end process equipment such as the battery breaker/separation system, concentrate production area, kettles and ingot casting, water treatment and recovery and other important areas of the plant. The administrative office area also appears to have remained intact.

Steve Cotton, Aqua Metal’s president and CEO, said: "We have up to $50,000,000 in property casualty and business continuity and loss of production coverage and we are currently reviewing available insurance coverage.

“We will pursue all available claims for insurance recovery to restore the AquaRefinery to its pre-fire state and commencement of operations of all 16 AquaRefining modules."

He added: " I am most thankful that this major event did not result in any injuries. I want to sincerely thank the Storey County Fire Protection District, Reno Fire Department, Sparks Fire Department, North Lyon County Fire Protection District, and Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District for their rapid and effective response which clearly greatly reduced the potential damage this fire could have caused.”

Image: In the foreground, one of the concentrate tanks succumbed to the flames. Also pictured is representative damage to the control wiring, part of the AquaRefined lead conveyance system which melted as well due to the intense heat.


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