There are three components to a battery: lead, acid and plastic. Gopher Resource Tampa is not only working to keep these materials out of landfills, but it’s repurposing these still-valuable resources for use in new automotive and industrial batteries. The company hired Walbridge to upgrade its facility in Tampa, Fla., expanding capacity to process 130,000 tons of material a year. That’s 50,000 batteries per day.
The expansion and modification of the Tampa facility, formerly EnviroFocus Technologies, required a company not only skilled in construction, but one also well-versed in the intricacies of industrial process and equipment installation. Both are reasons Gopher Resource hired Walbridge for construction management of the project.
Uninterrupted Operation: A Four-Phase Approach
Walbridge managed construction of the three-year modification and expansion of the 40-year-old EnviroFocus facility, which was 65,000-square-foot battery smelter and recycling plant. Purchased by North American lead recycler Gopher Resource, the Tampa plant remained in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week during its massive upgrade. The new 300,000-square-foot facility houses all operations for Gopher Resource Tampa’s lead-acid battery recycling process under one roof. The multi-faceted project included a new battery smelting facility, a LEED Gold-certified hygiene building, wastewater treatment plant, bag house, Torit filtration system, reverb furnace area and a new facility to recycle plastic.
To ensure optimum safety for its workers, Walbridge created a site-specific safety orientation and program that involved workers wearing respirators and other personal protection equipment to suit the unique hazards of the job. Every worker participated in regular blood screenings to monitor for elevated lead levels.
Following Walbridge’s work on the 300,000-square-foot battery smelter and recycling plant, Gopher Resource Tampa is expected to take in 60,000 spent batteries a day and put out 30 to 50 tons of completely repurposed materials every 24 hours.