Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Troubleshooting and Experiments

Spent a long day yesterday troubleshooting problems with the duff effluent treatment plant for the pharma client previously discussed. Managed to solve his excessive flow to sewer by simply restricting air flow to his diaphragm pumps. The client had not thought of this because he was convinced that his effluent flow rate was around five times its actual value. Always good to check your assumptions. Couldn't get his pH correction system online, due to problems with an injection lance, but increasing the alum dose brought the pH into spec. anyway. Just the problems with COD, suspended solids and heavy metals to solve now.

Also had a call from the Environment Agency yesterday about a former client who has tried to solve his own problems with an undersized effluent treatment plant. Like a lot of inexpert clients with such problems, he had been duped by a succession of snake-oil salesmen into trying all sorts of quick fixes, none of which had worked. He only carried out the cheaper of my recommendations, as cheaply as possible, and now it seems he is likely to get prosecuted.

The morals are:

1. All the magic bugs, fat dissolvers, swimming-pool filters and chemical dosing in the world will not save you if your plant is not the right size, installed, operated and maintained correctly. If it is correctly designed, installed, operated and maintained, you will not need these things.

2. If you spend money on a consultant, follow his suggestions. Waving a report whose suggestions you did not implement at the EA will not save you from prosecution.

Experiments on PCB containing oily sludges are going OK, in the strict scientific sense. That is, we have no growth yet of either anaerobic or aerobic organisms on the stuff. Of course, from a practical point of view, this disappoints.

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