With 500 workers living aboard Bibby Progress in the Warri Delta, waste management was always going to be a big problem – but it was soon solved with a really small solution!
When Chevron Nigeria chartered Bibby Progress to house workers constructing their Escravos gas-to-liquids plant in the Warri Delta, we knew that we had to find an innovative solution for their waste management. After all, with the two tanks on board Bibby Progress, holding 700 tons of toilet, kitchen and laundry waste, it was a big issue.
However, the answer turned out to be microscopically small, thanks to SludgeHammer, an American-developed system that uses billions of microbes to ‘eat’ the waste. The SludgeHammer team installed aerobic bacterial generators into the tanks, which produce a proprietary blend of bacteria and enzymes. These flourish and feed on the waste, taking just four days to clear both tanks before the cycle starts again.
It’s just one more example of how Bibby Coastels can adapt to the needs of our customers worldwide, providing effective solutions to staff accommodation whatever the local circumstances. As well as SludgeHammer™, Bibby Progress also boasts a state-of-the-art water purification system and on-board power generation, making it self-reliant and able to operate wherever it is needed, almost anywhere in the world.
Our team headed off to Rotterdam, where Bibby was doing the retrofit work to Bibby Progress, and were surprised to see that this rather humble looking barge was topped by first class hotel accommodation. We mobilized in no time and in less than one month our small crew had constructed a wastewater treatment facility designed for over 50,000 gallons per day.
After the two month tow to Nigeria, the SludgeHammer crew flew in to commission the system. We showed up in this exotic locale wearing T-shirts which warned any local kidnappers, “You don’t want us, we just fix toilets”. And, indeed, we were left alone. Even in this remote spot the simplicity of the SludgeHammer technology made getting the facilities up and running a relatively simple project. Its human value fully sunk in when we saw the Chevron workforce come aboard. Like kids in a candy store, they picked out their staterooms and marveled at the amenities. It’s nice to have satisfied customers.”
The day starts with an overcast Nigerian sky. Sometimes it’s sunny but the humidity is high and it often rains heavily. The roar of the “Flare” across the Warri Delta reminds you that you are in an oil industry environment, burning 365 days a year, lighting up the sky at night in a spectacular way. Eventually the flare will be extinguished as the production plant grows.
The crew of Bibby Progress is made up of myself, Marin Bob, our electrician from Romania and A/B’s Danilo Delfin and Roy Gimeno both from the Philippines. Together we spend the day maintaining the vessel’s systems including hotel air conditioning, potable water treatment, sewage treatment, boiler, galley and laundry equipment, electrical distribution and the four main generators that supply our power. All supplies and spares come in to Escravos by convoy from Warri or Port Harcourt, while parcels up to 20kg are flown in.
The site is just what you would expect of an industrial facility, with no shops, coffee bars, pubs or cinemas. Fortunately, we have satellite TV on board, along with a gymnasium, 8 ball pool tables, table tennis tables and a public bar. We have a multitude of nationalities onboard numbering 500, 80% of which are Nigerian nationals. Security is very tight due to the risk of kidnappings of foreign nationals in Nigeria. The Nigerian army are on constant stand-by and regularly patrol the river in heavily armed gun boats.
At the end of a long hard day, dinner brings a wide variety of dishes, including continental, Korean and Nigerian, served in three separate dining areas. After dinner I am welcome for a drink in the Chevron Management lounge before I retire to bed to do it all again tomorrow.
The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) has granted certification to SludgeHammer ’s revolutionary technology. After rigorous testing, SludgeHammer is the first device to restore function to septic leach systems that have become clogged with organic material under IAPMO’s new standard (#IGC 180-2003). This standard defines the Aerobic Bacterial Generator (ABG) and the new SludgeHammer is now the only such device listed to this standard.
Devices of this type have often been tested to the NSF-40 standard for testing and certification. This standard is useful for new systems, and the SludgeHammer is currently under testing for it, but for remediation of existing systems the IAPMO standard is more appropriate.
Septic systems have successfully treated household waste for hundreds of years. Soil absorbs the waste and microbes in the ground consume organic material. As long as there is oxygen, the microbes thrive. The problem is that most of the bacteria released in septic effluent is from fecal material flushed down toilets. These bacteria secrete thick mucous coatings which allow them to survive the acids and enzymes in the intestine. When these bacteria reach the soil they slowly clog it with this excess mucous slime.
The designers of the SludgeHammer realized that the key to restoration was to change the complement of microbes going to the soil. Dr. Dan Wickham used his two decades of experience as a research ecologist at the University of California to experiment with wastewater applications and inoculation with various strains of Bacillus bacteria for bioremediation of contaminated soils.
Dan realized that this, combined with an airlift design that could aerate septic tanks more efficiently than any existing systems, would allow him to introduce a packet of the powerful Bacillus and keep them alive and flourishing in the hostile environment of a septic tank or grease trap.
He also discovered these bacteria had an appetite for the anaerobic sludge in manure ponds, reducing its viscosity and improving water circulation. He reasoned the ability to generate large volumes of these beneficial bacteria by feeding them the waste in the septic tank would allow them to pass into the soil. There, they could consume the slime so water could also pass freely into the soil.
After many years and over hundreds of examples of SludgeHammers restoring homeowner leach fields, it fell to IAPMO to develop a standard and rigorous testing protocol — one that could certify the process and insure that other devices entering the marketplace would be held to the same high standard.
A testing system was installed at the UC Davis Wastewater Treatment facility. It consisted of two IAPMO listed septic tanks loaded with raw influent from the plant headworks. Lysimeters, or test leach disposal units, were constructed to receive the overflow from the tanks. Each tank had three 4 ft. diameter x 2 ft. deep lysimeters. A drain at the bottom was overlain with pea gravel and 12-14 inches of sand. This was covered with drain rock, and a measured flow was delivered to each lysimeter at a high enough rate (10-12 gpd/sq.ft. of sand) that it would allow the slime layer to clog the soil and reduce the percolation rate to less than 1.0 gpd/sq.ft.
At that time a unit was installed in each septic tank in the inlet chamber. One was allowed to operate as an aeration device without any introduced bacteria. The other was inoculated with the blend of facultative bacteria. Loads to the lysimeters were maintained at a high rate, greater than 8 gpd/sq.ft., and monitored until the lysimeters were able to restore percolation to a level of at least 5 gpd/sq.ft.
The device restored the percolation rate to this level in less than 60 days, thereby qualifying for listing. The aerated-only version restored percolation to about double the original rate, while the inoculated version restored percolation to almost 6 times the original rate, or three times the restoration with air alone. This is important to the standard because the device is defined as an Aerobic Bacterial Generator — NOT an Aerobic Treatment Unit (ATU), which is typically governed by the NSF-40 standard. While it is known and accepted in the industry that some recovery of leach function is possible with an ATU, it is the extra power of the bacterial enhancement that sets this technology apart and requires the new standard to distinguish the approaches. NSF-40 devices would not meet the IAPMO IGC 180 requirement.
Focusing on the critical functional aspect of leach disposal makes the IAPMO standard far more relevant to the onsite industry. The ability to restore leach function allows millions of septic system owners the option of preserving their investment in treatment infrastructure. And this same process allows owners of new systems to enjoy the economy of a standard septic system, while protecting their investment for the long term.
THE LATEST ADVANCEMENT IN WASTEWATER TREATMENT