Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Packaged Sewage Treatment Plants and BS EN 12566-3

More enquiries have come in from people with misbehaving small effluent treatment plants. I have covered some of the more interesting problems I have encountered previously with small plants on my website here.

Most of the non-compliant effluent treatment plants I see have been undersized, poorly maintained, and often worsened by the attention of unqualified "engineers" from maintenance companies.

From July of this year, BS EN 12566-3 replaces all national standards for sewage treatment plants for up to 50 population equivalent. Trading standards will enforce it, and it will require plants to have been tested to meet a set standard. The plants will therefore deliver a set standard at their rated population equivalent.

I have however only once been called out to a plant which was incapable of meeting its claimed standard by reason of incompetent basic design (that manufacturer shortly afterwards started to offer someone else's design, whilst not admitting that theirs was incapable of performing as claimed). The problem is more commonly poor specification, installation or maintenance.

What we therefore need now if for someone to make the specifier comply with the British Water Code of Practice in setting a conservative population equivalent for their development, and for someone to explain to the monkeys who work for maintenance companies that no amount of sucking sludge into a tanker makes you an engineer, and I'll be out of a job. I'm not losing any sleep about it. You can go to jail for claiming to be a Doctor, but anyone can claim to be an Engineer.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

PCBs and Pharmaceutical Effluent

It's been a quiet week in the office. I've mostly been attempting to teach my French work experience student (Cyril) how to use a library to research an area of scientific interest. In this case, the subject of interest is PCB contaminated groundwater. He is looking as some problems with floating oily sludges on a treatment plant I look after.

It turns out that the French-speaking world have never heard of the Science Citation Index and Chemical Abstracts. I'm waiting to find out what their librarians recommend as an alternative.

Just as I write that things are quiet, I have received a call from some people I quoted six months ago to look at a problem on a pharmaceutical effluent treatment plant...

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Water: Science and Pseudoscience

I've decided to start a blog on the company website, covering things which interest me professionally.

I'm a Chemical Engineer and Environmental Scientist, working mainly in the field of Water Engineering, though I do also deal in more general environmental advice, mostly on behalf of a government funded scheme called Envirowise.

I used to work for water contractors who you will not now have heard of, because it is seemingly a rule in the water industry that companies have to change the name of their company from time to time, for a number of reasons. For good companies, this is usually something to do with the marketing department. For bad companies, the reasons may be less honourable. None of the people I used to work for went bust by bidding jobs at less than cost and then came back one month later as "(old company name) 2008 Limited", but this is far from uncommon in the industry.

I do quite a bit of work of packaged sewage treatment plants which are misbehaving, look after some groundwater treatment plants, and am also presently involved in something I do a bit of from time to time, water feature design. I am helping with the design of water features in the Parc1 development in Korea. Don't click on the link unless you have broadband, the graphic designers have gone nuts on the website.

I'm also interested in water quackery, and will post some stuff on this as I come across new examples.