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Polymer Accident Upsets Membrane Bioreactor Microbes

Posted on September 12, 2017

On August 29th, an estimated 100 Litres of polymer accidentally entered the Sechelt Water Resource Centre’s wet well, primary tank, and three of the four greenhouse reactor tanks in Sechelt, B.C.

A sample of the plant effluent is tested by a certified laboratory monthly. The sample for the month of August, 2017, was taken on August 29th. The results showed that the effluent was within required parameter levels, with the exception of the ammonia levels.

Sechelt Wastewater SampleSechelt Water Resource Centre’s August 29th effluent sampling results.

 The higher ammonia level is suspected to be related to the polymer incident. As 90 per cent of the wastewater treatment process at the Water Resource Centre is biological, full process recovery will require an extended period of time. The ammonia level will continue to be monitored and the Centre has said that corrective action will be taken to bring the levels into compliance.

The polymer that accidentally entered the treatment system is an inert, organic substance used at the Centre to help collect and separate the biosolids from liquid. When the polymer infiltrated the reactor tanks, some of the digesting microbes were destroyed, which disrupted the wastewater treatment process.

The Centre continued to accept and treat incoming wastewater throughout the incident. Over the following two days, three vacuum trucks were used to clean out the impacted tanks. The contents were hauled to Sechelt’s Dusty Road sludge lagoon for disposal. The District has apologized to area residents for any inconvenience caused by the increase in truck traffic and in odors from tank clean out process.

A delivery of microbes to recharge the treatment system was received from the Town of Gibsons Wastewater Treatment Plant on August 30th. The District extended its thanks to the neighbouring government for the assistance.

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