Teck and Linde work together during shutdown

“We are taking everything apart, fixing it up and making everything new again.” - Neil Moon, Linde plant manager in Trail

For the past 25 years, Teck Trail Operations and Linde LLC have had a symbiotic relationship, and now its getting an upgrade.

Linde gives nitrogen and oxygen to Teck, while Teck gives Linde water to use during its operations.

Neil Moon, manager at the Linde plant in Trail, says one can’t operate properly without the other and the scheduled maintenance shut down at both plants is designed to keep that relationship working and to improve upon its individual operations.

“We are taking everything apart, fixing it up and making everything new again,” he said of the upgrades at the Linde plant. “We’re trying to be reliable for our customer base and we know how many local people work at Teck and we better be reliable so they can be as well. We’re partners. We need to be corporate partners here so we can be profitable and serve the community.”

At Teck, maintenance and upgrades on the lead smelter area and Kivcet furnace is the number one priority.

“The focus for the project is on our lead smelter area, including our Kivcet furnace, although maintenance activities will be taking place throughout the site,” said Catherine Adair, community relations leader at Teck Trail Operations. “Specifically, we will be completing Kivcet boiler cleaning, inspection and tube repair, replacement of the copper cooling jackets and re-bricking of the Kivcet furnace and the continuous drossing furnace, inspections, repairs and replacement of cooling jackets of the No. 3 slag fuming furnace and boiler and additional inspections, with as-needed replacements and repairs to ancillary equipment, throughout the lead smelter.”

The plants are scheduled to reopen for business, barring any complications, in mid-November, and until then, Linde will be doing a complete overhaul.

“We are renewing all of our equipment here,” said Moon. “Motors, compressors, valves, transmitters, instrumentations, controls, everything so that we can serve the community for the next 20 years. We call it re-life. We are doing a re-life of our plant. That is the term that we like to use.”

One of the major upgrades during the scheduled shut down is taking place at the Linde plant, and is aimed and reducing the warm water output into the Columbia River by a significant amount with a new water cooling tower.

“We used to discharge about 11,000 gallons of water a minute, more than you can imagine,” said Moon. “Now, we will discharge about 500 gallons per week. That’s a huge difference.”

The water for the Linde plant comes from Teck and Adair says the new cooling tower will use less river water.

“Linde will now recirculate water through the cooling tower for plant cooling rather than using river water, which will reduce overall combined peak usage of water for Teck and Linde,” she said.

Moon says this water recycling program is ahead of the curve when it comes to environmental legislation.

“We aren’t going to wait until regulations tell us we have have to do that,” he said. “We are being proactive. Before, we would cool water, send it through to Teck and Teck would discharge it to the river. Now, we recycle that water.”

The main benefit of the new cooling system is less warm water being discharged into the Columbia.

“We have built a whole system of piping, cooling water towers, an evaporative tower and a new packed water tower. It is a highly engineered system to run our water system,” said Moon. “In the hot summer months, you have a river temperature that is maybe 21 to 22 degrees and our water is in the neighbourhood of 25-30 degrees if it isn’t recycled. Especially in the hot summer months, it could cause warm pockets, which we don’t want.”

The roughly six-week process at both plants will be employing an estimated total of about 900 contractors to get the job done. In the case of Linde, Moon says around three quarters of their 200 contractors will be local.

At Teck, the general contractor for the maintenance shut down is a local company, Canadian Industrial Mill Services (CIMS),

“I don’t have a specific breakdown of the numbers (of local workers), but the general contractor for the project is CIMS LP based out of Rossland and Richmond,” said Adair. “They will work with specific contractors hired for their specialties based on the work required. Many of these are local companies, such as Chinook Scaffolding and West Kootenay Mechanical.”

Teck has shut down for maintenance twice in the past eight years for similar work, in 2007 and in 2010.