Friday, January 4, 2008
Inside the Recycling Plant
I’ve been struggling to determine the proper name for the mix of sewage effluent and toxic Lowry Landfill runoff being pumped through the “purple pipes” into City Park’s Ferril Lake and Washington Park’s Grasmere Lake. At first I called it “greywater”, but that term is used to describe used water from washing procedures. Then I called it “blackwater” but learned that term is for fecally contaminated water. What we have in the purple pipes is a combination of treated sewage effluent (with proscribed levels of e. coli) and the amazingly contaminated toxic groundwater from the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site (LLSS). I looked up “purplewater”, and found that is used to describe properly treated sewage effluent. So what we have in our purple pipes is actually purplewater plus the toxic Lowry mix, so I’m calling it Purplewater Plus.
The “Plus” part is our topic for today. You may recall that I have just obtained a copy of the current Permit describing what is in this Plus component. This Permit is what is allowed to flow from LLSS into the sewer system of Denver. It became effective on Nov. 17, 2006, and expires on July 31, 2009, so it is currently in effect. I have appended a copy of pages 1, 4 and 5 of the 31 page document in jpg files at the end of this post.
Of greatest interest is the list of 58 Pollutants (up from 53) and 15 Radionuclides allowed in this Plus. I compared this to the previous Permit to see what if any changes there were. The last Permit had 3 levels for each chemical measured in ug/L (micrograms per litre) at 10, 15, and 20 gallons per minute. The current Permit has dropped the 10 gpm and added 25 gpm. From this I conclude that more of the Plus is flowing.
Five new pollutants have been added, and amounts of two of the pollutants have been drastically increased. Today I’ll limit my comments to three of the new pollutants: Chlordane, Dieldrin, and Endrin, pesticides which have been banned for many years. The information posted below is extracted from this reference.
The substance is very toxic to aquatic organisms. This substance may be hazardous to the environment; special attention should be given to soil organisms, honey bees. It is strongly advised that this substance does not enter the environment. The substance may cause long-term effects in the aquatic environment.
Collect leaking and spilled liquid in sealable containers as far as possible. Absorb remaining liquid in sand or inert absorbent and remove to safe place. Do NOT wash away into sewer. Personal protection: chemical protection suit including self-contained breathing apparatus.
The substance is very toxic to aquatic organisms. This substance may be hazardous to the environment; special attention should be given to honey bees, birds. In the food chain important to humans, bioaccumulation takes place, specifically in aquatic organisms. It is strongly advised not to let the chemical enter into the environment because it persists in the environment. The substance may cause long-term effects in the aquatic environment. Avoid release to the environment in circumstances different to normal use.
The substance is very toxic to aquatic organisms. This substance may be hazardous to the environment; special attention should be given to honey bees, birds and mammals.It is strongly advised not to let the chemical enter into the environment because it persists in the environment. In the food chain important to humans, bioaccumulation takes place, specifically in fish and seafood.Avoid release to the environment in circumstances different to normal use.
And to wrap it up for today, from this morning’s Denver Post:
Death of more ducks worries officials
By Katy Human
The Denver Post
01/04/2008 01:22:02 AM MST
Ducks are dying again in the warm ponds of Front Range wastewater treatment plants, frustrating wildlife officials who are still struggling to understand what killed 850 ducks in wastewater ponds last year.
“We have about 35 total at three sites — not nearly as many as last year,” said Jennifer Churchill, spokeswoman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Last year, the ducks — mostly northern shovelers — died in wastewater ponds in Denver, Boulder, Northglenn and Englewood, and also in south Denver’s Sunfish Lake.
All of the birds died after losing the waterproofing of their feathers, she said. Oily feathers repel water, and ducks that lose those oils get soaked to the skin and can die of hypothermia. Dozens of disease and chemical tests conducted by multiple agencies during the past year have ruled out infectious diseases, many chemicals and other toxins, John Wegrzyn of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said late last year.
“Now, we’re dealing with stuff that’s a little more off the wall,” Wegrzyn said. “It’s just very frustrating to have it run out this long and still have people scratching their head.”
Dennis Stowe, plant manager of the Littleton/Englewood wastewater treatment plant, said he was dismayed when ducks started dying again just before Christmas.
“We’ve collected 26 little bodies,” Stowe said. “We’re all trying to figure this out — we need to figure it out.”
Last year, nearly 200 birds died at the Englewood plant during a prolonged cold spell in January and February, Stowe said.
Wastewater treatment ponds do not support enough duck food — tiny animals called zooplankton — to keep the animals healthy, said Steve Frank, spokesman for Denver’s Metro Wastewater. And starving birds might not be able to maintain oily feathers
Frank was skeptical about the cold-starvation theory.
One duck died at the Denver plant Christmas Eve, when temperatures were relatively warm — the low temperature was about 24 degrees, Frank said.
At least six ducks have died at the Denver site, he said. Moreover, only some of the birds that died last year were emaciated, Churchill said. Many appeared to have been well-fed. “That’s part of the puzzle,” Churchill said.
The U.S. Geological Survey gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife $20,000 to begin a controlled study of how the water in wastewater ponds affects living ducks, said Barb Perkins, Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman.
The birds will be exposed to the water in controlled conditions and their feathers analyzed in detail, she said.
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