Severn Trent: Staff Pass Acid Test

In the South Water Production Region we are adopting a new system for treating spillages of water treatment chemicals. This piece of work is being led by Paul Stevens, Senior Technician for Water Production in Warwickshire.

“We do everything we can to minimise chemical spills. However, if they do occur we need to act fast and once! Following a small chemical spill on our treatment works, we followed the guidelines that were in place at the time and called in the contractor for collection and disposal.”
Paul Stevens, Senior Technician for Water Production at Severn Trent Water Warwickshire

The Problem
“We had over-applied the neutralising chemical and turned a dangerous acid into an equally dangerous alkali. The contractor refused to collect the material.”

What next?
“We completed a root cause analysis and identified a need for a simple but effective solution that we could deploy ‘in house’ so we could manage these spills safer, better and faster! We also needed a system that we could clear up these spills without employing expensive contractors.”
Paul Stevens, Senior Technician for Water Production at Severn Trent Water Warwickshire

The new system – designed with spill treatment specialists Fosse Liquitrol – has been tested at STW’s Whitacre Treatment Works, where it is estimated to have saved £1,633 in treatment costs over a four month test period. Operators now use a special liquid vacuum cleaner to siphon up chemical from containment bunds and deposit in the treatment tank. Here the neutralisation chemicals are applied which allows the chemical reaction to take place. They can see the chemical changing colour during the process, which indicates when neutralisation is achieved, and can additionally check using litmus papers, before disposing of the residue via a designated route.

“The new system is simple to use: It gives us confidence when we are clearing up spills because the guesswork has been removed. We can see when we’ve completed the task.”
John Lewis, Operators at Severn Trent Water Whitacre