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Case StudY: Avondale Mills

In January 2005, Avondale Mills, a textile manufacturer in South Carolina, was devastated when a pressurized railroad tank car containing 90 tons of highly corrosive chlorine gas derailed, ruptured and permeated the entire mill. Each facility of the 2.5 million square foot complex was negatively impacted by this chemical catastrophe. The corrosive effects of the chlorine attacked and contaminated each of the mill’s manufacturing plants including building structures, production machinery and equipment, electrical components, electronic data systems, compressed air systems, boilers/steam delivery systems, and warehouse facilities.

Continental Machinery was selected to provide project coordination and restoration consulting services. Over the next 15 months, Continental provided guidance and oversight as teams of vendors became involved in different aspects of the recovery effort. Continental offered expertise in the form of extensive photo documentation, sample collection, forensic testing and results interpretation, CAD drawings, restoration protocols and loss determination estimates to facilitate the mill’s insurance claim.

In July 2006, Avondale Mills ceased operations due to damages from the derailment and pursued a $420 million lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Railway Company. CMC personnel provided significant, continuous litigation support for the federal court trial. CMC’s President, Jeff Schwenk, testified as an expert witness on catastrophe restoration at trial. The lawsuit settled mid-trial in April 2008 on a confidential basis.

We were knee deep in trying to recover from this disaster and get the plants up and running. I used Continental to help manage everything. Continental’s role here was really deep. They almost lived here for a year and a half – they actually became part of the team.

— Jack Altherr, Jr., CFO, Avondale Mills