Swan Hills Treatment Centre (SENA)
SENA is an industry leader and global provider of engineering, construction, environmental, infrastructure development, and facility operation services to meet the varied needs of government and industrial clients in our changing world. Our technical excellence, depth of resources, financial strength, global presence, and customer focus are the basis for our reputation of providing responsive, high-quality, and innovative services.The Swan Hills Treatment Centre is the only facility of its kind in Canada and one of few in the world. It has played a principal role in ridding the province of hazardous waste such as PCBs and dioxins.
SENA is an industry leader and global provider of engineering, construction, environmental, infrastructure development, and facility operation services to meet the varied needs of government and industrial clients in our changing world. Our technical excellence, depth of resources, financial strength, global presence, and customer focus are the basis for our reputation of providing responsive, high-quality, and innovative services.
The Government of Alberta has signed a 10 year contract with SENA to operate the Swan Hills Treatment Centre on its behalf. SENA is a global engineering and contracting firm, with its western management team based in Edmonton. The firm provides a variety of services to meet environmental and infrastructure needs for industry and government.
The Swan Hills Treatment Centre is the only facility of its kind in Canada and one of few in the world. It has played a principal role in ridding the province of hazardous waste such as PCBs and dioxins.
Our EH&S Policy
At the Swan Hills Treatment Centre, we are committed to the safe operation of our facility, in the disposal of hazardous waste, while protecting the environment, our community and our employees - our commitment is reflected in our Management Commitment Policy - the Safety, Health and Environmental Policy.
Our Vision Statement
The Swan Hills Treatment Centre and its dedicated team of employees, will continue to be an industry leader by providing complete liability elimination for its customers, using safe and responsible treatment of environmentally hazardous waste.
Our Commitment to Safety
Safety is our highest priority. SENA is committed to conducting our operations in a way that protects people, property, communities, and the environment. Safety is viewed as a critical element of successful project performance. We believe all injuries and occupational illnesses can be prevented. Our outstanding performance record is a direct result of our well-trained staff, up-to-date programs and procedures, and corporate commitment to safety through management involvement, employee participation and proactive approaches.
A hazardous waste is an unwanted substance that can damage the environment and pose a threat to human safety. Hazardous wastes come in many physical shapes and forms, from PCBs to battery acid, paints and solvents.
Hazardous wastes can't be recycled, reused or safely disposed of in industrial or municipal landfills. They may be wastes left over from a complex manufacturing process such as making plastic or chemicals. They could be the fluids used in electrical transformers.
They can also be everyday products you'd find under your kitchen sink, such as household cleaners and paint thinners. You'll also find hazardous wastes in your medicine cabinet in the form of nail polish or unused or out-dated prescription drugs. Or in your basement or garage: paint, insecticides and pesticides, motor oils and other automotive fluids can all be hazardous materials.
When properly stored and handled, these materials present little risk to you, your family, your business or the environment. Left untreated or disposed of incorrectly, however, the risks of hazardous waste increase. The Swan Hills Treatment Centre offers customers safe, cost-effective, environmentally sound solutions to waste treatment problems.
As technology has advanced, so has the understanding of how such wastes can be safely, responsibly disposed of. We're an industry leader in handling and disposing of toxic, flammable, corrosive, oxidizing and other environmentally hazardous wastes.
Working to the highest standards, the Swan Hills Treatment Centre provides waste treatment solutions to a wide range of clients including pulp and paper manufacturers, petrochemical producers, chemical manufacturers, utility companies and municipalities.
Common Household Hazardous Wastes
- Abrasive cleansers
- Aerosol paints and sprays
- Air fresheners (aerosol)
- All-purpose cleaners (solvent-based)
- Ant/wasp spray
- Auto body filler
- Barbeque starters
- Brake and transmission fluid
- Butane refills
- Carbon tetrachloride
- Car (lead-acid) batteries
- Car waxes and polishes (solvent and water based)
- Contact cement
- Degreasers (petroleum based)
- Drain cleaners
- Fabric softeners
- Floor wax strippers
- Furniture polishes and waxes
- Glass cleaners
- Glues (solvent and water based)
- Hair coloring
- Hair perm solutions
- Hair sprays (aerosol)
- Laundry starch
- Laundry stain removers
- Lighter fluid
- Liquid cleansers
- Mildew removers
- Muriatic acid
- Nail polish and remover
- Oven cleaners
- Paint thinners and strippers
- Paints (oil and water based)
- Photographic chemicals
- Propane gas cylinders
- Rubbing alcohol
- Rug and upholstery cleaners (both water and solvent based)
- Rust removers
- Septic tank degreaser
- Shoe polish
- Silver and brass polish
- Solvents, turpentine, varnish, lacquers
- Spot removers
- Spa and pool chemicals
- Toilet cleaners
- Tub and tile cleaners
- Used oil (where recycling not available)
- Weed killers
- Windshield washer solution containing methyl alcohol
- Wood preservatives
Once widely used, PCBs are a very stable, non-corrosive and relatively nonflammable chemical substance. They are insoluble in water and act as excellent dielectric insulators and heat conductors.
These properties made PCBs a valuable industrial chemical used in a variety of products you could find all around you. PCBs were used most often in electrical transformers, capacitors and lamp ballasts. They were also used in caulking, carbonless paper, hydraulic fluids, printing inks, rubber, paint, sealants, adhesive and asphalt.
Yet few hazardous wastes cause greater concern than PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls. First manufactured in 1929, PCBs first caused misgivings in the 1960s when the chemical was discovered in remote and otherwise unpolluted areas. Brief exposure to PCBs poses a minimal health risk to humans and long-term effects are unknown, although it is known that PCBs accumulate in body tissues and are passed up the food chain.
So what exactly makes PCBs so bad?
When burned between 250° Celsius and 750° Celsius, PCBs convert to PCDFs (polychlorinated dibenzofurans, or furans), or PCDDs (polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, or dioxins), both of which pose serious risks to human and environmental health. In 1977, PCBs were voluntarily banned by North America manufactures and importers, although PCBs are still found in electrical equipment still in use.
Because the natural breakdown of PCBs occurs very slowly over decades or even centuries, and its chemical stability makes it resistant to chemical or biological breakdown, disposing of PCBs has been a challenge to both governments and industries. For several decades, PCBs were stored in special storage facilities.
PCBs are treated in the Swan Hills Treatment Centre's Incineration Facility, which is BADT (Best Available Demonstrated Technology) for organic waste. The PCB waste is treated at the FBD Kiln, with a capacity of 35,000 tonnes per year. This high-temperature incineration system operates at temperatures up to 1,200° Celsius with secondary combustion chambers equipped with dual-fire burners. (Reaching this temperature is essential in the destruction of PCBs, as burning at temperatures between 250° Celsius and 750° Celsius creates dioxins and furans.)
Since its inception in 1987 the Swan Hills Treatment Centre has safely processed more than 295,000 metric tonnes of hazardous waste and over 2,000 different waste profiles . As a fully integrated world-class waste treatment facility it is capable of achieving complete treatment of all wastes with the exceptions of pathological, explosive and radioactive. A key feature of the Treatment Centre’s operation is that all wastes which are accepted by the facility are treated at one location with no need to ship residuals elsewhere.
The Plant Site was chosen in 1983 with construction and environmental monitoring beginning in 1985. The Plant Site consists of a half section (320 acres) of which approximately 80 acres is fenced.
Prior to any waste being shipped to the Treatment Centre, its chemical properties must be determined and a plan developed for its treatment. Documentation of the movement, treatment, and ultimate disposal of special waste is essential. Therefore, monitoring and cross-checking of a special waste from the initial enquiry from the generator through collection, transportation, treatment and disposal binds the various parts of the System together and ensures a successful waste management program. This 'cradle to grave' care concept is achieved by the use of various management systems including waste profile sheets, transportation manifests and waste 'fingerprinting'.
Waste is delivered to the facility by bulk truck or in containers with drums. Incoming loads are weighed and sent to off-loading areas which are equipped for waste sampling, drum processing, and tankage. The waste is sampled and a 'fingerprint' analysis is performed to verify that the waste is representative of that specified by the generator. The Treatment Centre can refuse to accept waste which does not match that initially specified by the generator.
Drum wastes received can be temporarily stored in specially designed transport containers or in storage buildings while awaiting processing. On site drum storage has the capacity of approximately 17,500 drums.
The Facility has the capacity to destroy a total of 45,000 tonnes per year, through one of the three process facilities. The selection of the technology to be used is dependent upon the contaminant in the waste. An array of processes are in place to support these three technologies either by preparing the waste for treatment or by disposing of the treated residue.
Incineration – organic waste (in solid, liquid or sludge forms) is destroyed in the incinerator at temperatures up to 1200º C; acid gases and particulate matter is scrubbed from the resulting flue gases in a multi-stage process; bottom ash and flyash are stabilized and placed in secure on-site landfill cells.
Physical/Chemical – inorganic liquids are chemically neutralized and filtered to remove solids. The solid residue is stabilized into an inert compound and placed in secure, on-site landfill cells; treated liquid effluent is injected 1,800 metres below the ground into a stable geological formation.