Waterways and ponds contaminated with pulp & paper PCBs are contained & dewatered using Geotube container, providing an economical environmental solution

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Courtesy of TenCate Geosynthetics Netherlands bv

Abstract:

Polychlorinaled biphenyls (PCBs) were unknowingly generated in ihe waste of some of the pulp and paper systems, a known carcinogen in animals and a probable carcinogen in humans. PCBs are stable, man-made compounds. They absorb heat and do not easily break down. Because of these properties, they have been widely used in electrical equipment, hydraulic fluids, fire retardants, and many other commercial and indusirial processes. PCBs were used in the manufacturing and recycling of carbonless copy paper. As a result, PCBs were released to the river in wastewater discharges. The manufacture and use of PCBs ended in the United States in the early 1970s. However, estimates show that more than 98 percent of the PCBs were discharged to the river before this time. Many of these PCBs settled into the river's bottom. These sites, usually lagoons or waterways, are now being cleaned up at very high cost. The material must be removed, clean water returned to the source, and the contaminated material moved to the appropriate disposal system. To make the disposal as economical as possible, as much of the water needs to be removed, PCB free, allowing for storage or transporting of high solids PCB contaminated material. Two PCB projects will be presented. A Pulp and Paper facility in Monroe Michigan, USA, that shut down in 1980 giving the property to the state, in 1985 it was determined that PCB's were present. The Michigan governmental Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was responsible for cleanup. After hanging bag testing, they specified Geotube containers to be used, saving the state over a million dollars compared to older mechanical technology. The second project presented is the clean up of a major river. Fox River in Wisconsin, that flows into the great lakes. It is the major PCB source of contamination for the great lakes. Present estimates are that over 800,000,000 cubic yards and 215,000 pounds of PCBs in 39 miles of river. This estimated 18-year project will cost over $309,000,000 USD. This project is funded and the responsibility of several pulp & paper facilities, with close monitoring by several local, state, and federal governmental agencies.

Key Words: contamination, dewatering, Geotube^-container, PCB, remediation.

Introduction:

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a known carcinogen in animals and a probable carcinogen in humans were unknowingly legally discharged by manufacturing processing relating to de-inking and making of coated papers. Now that we are aware of the potential health hazard related to these contaminants the industry has found other methods of de-inking and manufacture of coated paper. It still left the issue of cleaning up what has been left behind to ensure a safe environment. This paper will provide a case history of two such locations. Over the years the manufacture of carbonless copy paper and the operation of recycle de-inking facilities operated throughout the world unknowingly discharging a potentially harmful material PCB. In both the de-inking operations and the manufacturing of carbonless copy paper, these mills handled polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). which were used in the emulsion that coated carbonless copy paper. In the de-inking process and in the manufacturing process, PCBs were released from the mills to lagoons or rivers directly or after passing through local water treatment works. PCBs have a tendency to adhere to sediment and therefore have contaminated the sediments. In addition, the PCBs and contaminated sediments are easily carried down river and released into other bodies of water The sediments are feeding areas for the food chain that leads directly to people. One of the major issues is not if it needs to be removed and disposed of but where is the money coming from to pay for such an expensive operation. The two case studies will show how an operation that is being paid for by the government (your tax dollars) and the other being paid for directly by the pulp and paper manufacturers without any government assistance. Both have chosen the most economical approach to removing the contaminated sediment, return clean water to the river and dispose do as high as possibly solids content so you do not transport or dispose of water.

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