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Timmins equipment manufacturer takes sand out of sandblasting.

Timmins equipment manufacturer takes sand out of sandblasting

A Timmins mining equipment manufacturer is helping to create safer working conditions for employees involved in sandblasting.

Dangerous dust is produced by ordinary sandblasting, but Nor Equip Mfg. Inc. in South Porcupine has what it believes to be Northern Ontario's only complete system for recovering dust produced by steel-grit blasting.

The new system is environmentally safe, says company president Walter DiTullio, noting it has been approved by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Labour.

With the operation of most sand-blasting systems, there is a lot of dust created in the workplace. Sand contains silica, which DiTullio notes is bad for worker's health.

Using steel grit instead of sand eliminates the danger of silica which causes the lung disease silicosis.

"It's much safer for everyone involved," says DiTullio.

The workers still wear masks and blasting hoods, but the environment is much cleaner, he says.

Blasting with sand is so dirty that it is sometimes hard to see the workers, he adds. The only dust with steel-grit sanding comes from the dirt being blasted off the surface being cleaned.

"I think, personally, the ministries of Environment and Labour should both make systems like this mandatory," says DiTullio. "There are many shops around the country which are not environmentally safe."

Nor Equip has a new facility which had to comply with all current environmental regulations.

The business has been in the same location for 10 years, but has undergone

three expansions.

The new equipment, which cost about $350,000, was installed about eight months ago.

Basically, the system divides the steel grit from the dirt which comes from the blasting. The grit is re-used, while the dirt goes into a dust collector.

"It's a fully automatic reclamation system for blasting any type of steel," explains DiTullio.

The system is contained in an enclosed compartment which is 16 feet high, 16 feet wide and 40 feet long. The compartment opens both to the outside and to the inside of the shop to allow material to be moved in and out for cleaning.

Three screw conveyors and a cross-screw conveyor bring used material from the sand-blasting process into a bucket elevator, which carries it to an air wash where the steel grit is separated from the debris.

The system then cleans the steel grit and dumps it back into the blasting pot.

A separate part of the system filters out fumes.

With ordinary sand blasting, there is no recovery system and the sand is disposed of after it is used.

DiTullio explains that it is impossible to separate sand and fine peices of grit.

"With the system here, we lose less than five per cent of material," notes DiTullio. "With sand blasting, you lost 100 per cent of the material."

Not having to buy sand helps to make the system economical, he explains. "The pay-back is much quicker with this system."

A 100-pound bag of sand costs about $10 and a sand-blasting shop could use 10 to 15 bags per day. There is also a savings from not having to dispose of the sand.

Nor Equip's new system can be used for general structural steel work, equipment manufacturing and repair work.

PHOTO : An employee at Nor Equip Mfg. Ltd. in Timmins prepares to use a steel-grit blasting system, the safest in the north for workers' health.
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Title Annotation:Timmins Report; Nor Equip Manufacturing Inc.
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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