Comparing Shock Event Response Protocols for Wastewater Treatment Plants

The wastewater treatment industry currently lacks a systematic framework of tested response guidelines and corrective action protocols to be implemented during and after toxic shock events.  The ability to respond to toxic spills, accidental and deliberate, necessitates a detailed compilation of probable process effect(s) from the contaminant(s), listing of potential corrective action strategies, and their effect(s) on the process performance. In this paper, we present the evaluation of two different corrective action strategies developed for a conventional complete mixed activated sludge (CMAS) system with nitrification. Our goal is to orient experimentally validated proactive control strategies into contaminant-specific control action plan matrices (CAPMs), thus providing operators with a rapid decision-making tool during toxic shock events.

The experimental set-up consists of three identical continuous-flow CMAS systems, each consisting of a primary clarifier, an aeration basin, and a secondary clarifier. The laboratory setup operates at an influent flow of 58 liters per day (lpd), a 9 hydraulic retention time (HRT), and a 10 day solids retention time (SRT). The system was designed to mimic the Plum Island wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Charleston, SC, which was the source of mixed liquor used to inoculate the reactors. During the experimental runs, line 1 (NC) of the laboratory scale set-up was not shocked with the toxin. Lines 2 (PC) and 3 (CA) were shocked by adding toxin to the raw sewage upstream of the primary clarifier, while corrective actions were implemented only on line 3.

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