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Feature: Treatment centre

A large amount of hazardous waste comes from the industrial and commercial sector, and a main contaminant in these waste streams are the components of chemicals, oils and hydrocarbons. According to Karim Esmail, technology director at the British Research Establishment (BRE): “Contaminants such as these can be pre- treated and wastes diverted from hazardous landfills if cost-effective technologies can be found.”

With this in mind, BRE has developed the Eco-Bio process, which is designed to take chemicals and hydrocarbon oils in effluents and decontaminate them to their basic components. The process has been demonstrated on a large scale in a number of different waste streams, such as waste oil treatment, landfill leachate, sewage and chemicals.

The Eco-Bio process is an enhanced biological treatment that relies on accelerating the natural microbial activity of degrading micro-organisms. The process introduces nutrients, vitamins and bio-stimulants, typically referred to as micronutrients, containing specific selections of biocatalysts, minerals and trace metals. These sharply catalyse the waste effluent streams with natural micro-organisms. Contaminations can be treated in- or ex-situ for soils and effluents using Bio-Swift bioreactors.

According to Esmail, the process is now capable of degrading crude oil to carbon dioxide and water within 12 hours in a well-mixed and aerated system. At an Onyx Waste Treatment plant, Esmail says the introduction of Eco-Bio products has demonstrated a large reduction in the amount of hazardous waste sludge produced, by breaking the hydrocarbons to water and carbon dioxide using the biological process, thus reducing the hazardous waste bound for landfill. Another example, has been trials with Conoco Philips for treating oily sludge from the DAF, settling tanks and oil in water within eight hours, and trials with Scotoil in Aberdeen in treat drilling muds from the North Sea oil platforms.

The most obvious applications for Eco-Bio is in treating contaminated soil and spillages, to render soil clean and free of hazardous compounds. Large-scale trials conducted at Cardiff Bay’s gas remediation works demonstrated the application for treating contaminated soil ex-situ using the commonly known bio-pile techniques. Typically, the hydrocarbon levels were brought down from 3,000 mg/l to under 300 mg/l in less than nine weeks. It rendered the soil capable of meeting consent requirements to build, making the treatment ideal for consideration in the use at proposed land farms and remediation sites.

Similarly, during a recent spillage following an accident at the Conoco Philips tank farm in Teeside, crude oil from the tanks had dispersed across a large bund area made of rock and natural sediment. Eco-Bio products were spread on the surface to remediate, and the result was elimination of crude oil on surface and soil within 20 days with no digging and dumping of contaminated soil.

As the regulations and waste acceptance criteria become tighter, Esmail believes that innovations such as the Eco-Bio process will provide an alternate, cost- effective method of dealing with contaminated waste streams at source or pre-treatment stage.


Cardiff Bay International Sports Village is currently under development by Cardiff County Council to produce a state-of-the-art sports, leisure and entertainment complex over the next seven years.

As part of the regeneration programme, contaminated soil at the derelict Ferry Road industrial site needed to be cleaned up. The

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