Pemex refinery decommissioning case study

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Courtesy of Nordevco Associates Ltd.

The Problem
The decision by PEMEX to close their 'La Nogalera' petroleum storage facility in Guadalajara, Mexico, involved the demolition of the facility's large storage tanks. Before demolition, the tanks had to be cleaned and all traces of petroleum had to be removed from the tanks. All tanks were pressure washed prior to demolition creating a large volume (9,035 m3) of contaminated wash water that could not be disposed of. Storage of this wash water in the two remaining tanks on site was preventing the final closure of the facility, creating both an environmental liability and an operating cost for PEMEX.

Our Approach
Upon reviewing the problem, it was clear that a two phased approach would be required to meet the discharge limits (less than 5 ppm) dictated to PEMEX by environmental authorities and do so in as short a period of time as possible to facilitate the final closure of the facility. The first phase of the treatment was an active treatment of the contaminated wash water as it was pumped from the storage tanks into a Nordevco designed bioreactor. The second phase involved reinjecting water treated in the bioreactor back into the storage tank. This water carried BactiDomus Technology product from the bioreactor into the tank where they began a passive treatment of both the sludge and wash water. In addition, urea and phosphate were added to ensure a C/N/P balance. No water was discharged until the entire contents of the tank met regulatory/contract requirements.

The Technology
Nordevco’s BactiDomus Technology was developed by a diversified group of research scientists working together at Universities in Belgium and France. Their goal was to create a mechanism with the flexibility to delivery biological solutions to a range of environmental issues more effectively and efficiently.

The foundation for the success of the BactiDomus Technology was the development team’s clear understands that for any carrier material to be successful it had to meet specific underlying needs of the organisms:

  • Regardless of the organisms used, they would be cultured in a sterile laboratory and would require time to acclimate to the environment they were activated in.
  • Microorganisms, like humans, do not exist or thrive in isolation of each other but rather rely on others for stimulation and competition;
  • Organisms prefer to grow and live in colonies or flocs and prefer to attach to something to anchor these colonies;
  • Individual species of microorganisms do not work in isolation to break down organic compounds. To successfully break down any organic completely to CO2 and H20, a variety of different organisms are required;

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