Saturday, 15 July 2006

The Use of Sustainable Green Wastewater Treatment Technology Across the Andes , Ecuador, South America.

Ronald L. Lavigne, University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge Hall, Amherst, MA 01003

In 2003, the international company Olieoductos Crudes Pesados (OCP) began pumping approximately 250,000 barrels/day of Amazon Crude across the Andes Mountains in Ecuador to the seaport city of Esmaraldas where it is loaded onto offshore tankers for global distribution. For a variety of technical and security reasons, the multiple pump stations along the 400-kilometer long transect need to be staffed on a 24 hour, 7 day a week basis with Ecuadorian Military Forces, maintenance workers and engineers. Climatic variations range from Tropical Rain Forest in the Amazon Basin to a coastal dessert climate in Esmaraldas. Conditions in the Sierra Region with elevations greater than 4000 m (14,000 feet) can very in temperature between 90oF to below freezing at night.

At the time of construction, each pump station utilized septic tanks and soil infiltration systems to meet their wastewater disposal needs. Each station has three wastewater sources including a modern hotel-like complex with laundry, restaurant, room service etc., a control room or work area complex, and a military dormitory. Within two years, essentially 100% of the conventional septic systems were in failure for a variety of reasons; such as high seasonal water tables, poor septic tank maintenance, and poorly permeable clay type soils. During early 2005, OCP hired NEWS-ECUADOR to replace all of the failing septic systems with a series of Pantanos Secos Artificiales (PSATM). More than 25 units were constructed across the Andes, with each climatic zone presenting its own unique set of problems. The treatment units are currently removing more than 95% of the BOD5, COD, and suspended solids concentration. Each unit is meeting all of the Ministry of the Environment discharge limits and in several situations the near drinking water quality effluent is reused for irrigation. The units function without electricity, pumps, or chemicals. Sunlight and gravity meet all of the energy needs. By incorporating conventional Reed Beds for biosolids treatment, there are essentially no pollutants leaving the treatment areas. There are no odors and no free water surfaces for mosquitoes and other vectors to breed. As such, OCP feels that they have a sustainable long-term solution to their wastewater problems.

This paper will present design, construction, operation, monitoring and maintenance data for the several climatic regions along the pipeline where green sustainable technology is used to treat oil company wastewater.

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