Operators need to determine where potential odors may come from and have a strategy in place to combat them.

There’s one thing operators of septage disposal facilities cannot forget about: odor.

While that may sound obvious, many operators have so much on their plate that odor control can become an afterthought, says Tom Ferrero, project manager at FRANC Environmental Inc. in Philadelphia.

“You need to address odor control whether it’s there or not. The perception out there is that you’re dealing with stinky stuff, so you need to address it.”

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In addition, there may be regulations requiring facilities to have an odor control system or plan on file.

“It’s important to have a strategy in place to deal with any odors coming from your facility,” says Ferrero, who served as executive director of the National Association of Wastewater Technicians before joining FRANC Environmental. “The strategy can be as simple as ‘We’re going to locate out here where we have no neighbors around us for a half mile’ or more complex as to how you’re going to deal with any odors present.”

Besides addressing odor, operators of septage disposal facilities need to also consider safety issues.

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“Containing odor is important, but there’s more operators need to look at,” he says. “You need to consider corrosion, the risk of explosion due to the presence of methane gas and health issues, such as the danger of spreading airborne diseases. A lot of planning goes into one of these facilities.”

While safety issues are important, odor usually receives the most attention from neighbors and local officials. To keep odors under control, Ferrero says operators should study their processes and procedures to determine where odors could come from. Some areas to look at include the septage receiving area, screening and grit removal, equalization tanks, processing-dewatering and filtrate.

Next, operators should look at businesses or residences downwind and estimate how much odor control is necessary, depending on their proximity.

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“You take the different areas and think what odors might come from there and how you’ll address them,” Ferrero says.

The next step is evaluating the available treatment options and selecting the one that’s right for the situation. “You may decide you want to contain everything so you cover up all the tanks,” he says.

When it comes to containing odors, there are multiple options available.

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“There’s a lot of trial and error. Look at best practices out there and see what could work for you.”

Some best management practices Ferrero endorses include using quick-disconnect fittings, avoiding septage free falls, providing washdown facilities for spills and ventilating tanks to an odor control system. “Another great strategy is keeping everything inside.”

Ferrero says once operators determine where potential odors may come from and have a strategy in place, the next step is choosing a technique for how to deal with the odor.

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“There are several techniques available and each operator needs to decide for himself which one will work best for his situation.”

Next: Techniques for control odor

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