Plas-Tanks Industries Inc. of Hamilton, Ohio, has taken advantage of misfortune and triumphed in the development of an environmentally advanced air-handling system. PTI is a fabricator of fiberglass-reinforced plastic tanks that employs 40. On March 5, 1995, a fire destroyed its plant in Fairfield, Ohio. Within a week, the company was operating out of two rented buildings and the facility in Hamilton was being planned. By Thanksgiving, the offices were in the new plant, and by the first of the year the plant was in full operation.
In designing the new facility, PTI developed an innovative air-ventilation system to control styrene emissions. PTI designed a floor ventilation system that collects the fumes, which are heavier than air. The fumes are then pulled through an underground duct system, sent through filters and stacks and are emitted above the roofline.
Most open molders use wall and roof ventilation, which leaves more styrene in the air. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's styrene limits for worker exposure is 50 parts per million. PTI's air-handling system has reduced styrene levels inside the plant to 10 parts per million.
``We wanted to be a good neighbor and not be detrimental to our employees and the environment,'' said spokesman Izzy Combs. ``We hope this system will take us into the next century'' for EPA standards.
To make the tanks, fiberglass is spun out over the tank and then resin is sprayed over it. Typically, vinyl ester is used on chemical tanks and polyethylene is used for water tanks.
As a result, the company was required to meet a local regulation derived from the National Fire Protection Association that allows no more than 165 gallons of laminating resin to be stored within the fabrication facility. A system was designed to pump the resin from a safe room at the rear of the plant to dispensing stations throughout the facility.
PTI invested $1.3 million in the 27,000-square-foot facility and spent an additional $106,000 on the air system. The firm's four vertical winding stations can make tanks from 1-50 feet in diameter.
PTI makes tanks for waste-water treatment and air-pollution treatment for municipalities and large industrial complexes that have their own treatment facilities. PTI also serves the chemical process, soft water, food processor and pharmaceutical industries.