Smoke from silicon plant caused by computer failure
A computer malfunction at the PCC Bakki Silicon plant, near Húsavík, North Iceland, caused emergency vents to open and remain open for 15 minutes yesterday afternoon. This was announced on the company’s website. From afar, smoke was seen emitting from the vents around 6 pm, according to mbl.is. The smoke was emitted, because it did not go through a fume treatment process.
The smoke bypasses the treatment process if something goes wrong and continues to be emitted until furnaces are shut down or other action is taken. This time, the furnace was not shut down, because a malfunctioning computer had triggered a false alarm. Production was not affected. Hafsteinn Viktorsson, the plant’s director, states that this has happened a few times before and will happen again.
“Such incidents can occur once in a while,” PCC’s statement reads, “and are always reacted to right away to secure that the situation lasts for as short a time as possible.” Although smoke was clearly visible, “such a short opening of the vents does not impact air quality considerably,” it continues.
The statement goes on to say that air quality monitoring stations indicate pollution did not exceed health standards, which are 50 µg/m3 in 24 hours. The cause for the malfunction is being investigated, and an emphasis is placed on obtaining answers as soon as possible.
PCC Bakki Silicon regrets the incident, the statement reads, and refers to the website of the Environment Agency of Iceland, where air quality at the Bakki silicon plant can be monitored.