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Everything you need to know about automated water pollution prevention in twenty six and and a half minutes. If you prefer to read the transcript is below.

Tales From the Field 2- Automated Water Pollution Prevention Transcription Details:

Date: September 23, 2019
Input sound file: https://youtu.be/EPJo0dmsvMY

Speaker: [Tales] from the field effective water pollution prevention in practice. So what we’re going to do again today is talk a little bit about technology and things that can be done to improve water pollution. Myself as a business and us as a business, we believe that there’s no excuse for actually having any  discharge into controlled waters. Water pollution prevention can be done, water pollution can be controlled, there’s lots of companies out there effectively preventing water pollution right now.

So I’m trying to pass on a little bit of information of what we’ve done, and  allow you to think about your particular industries or whatever you’re into, your own passion projects, if it’s not necessarily in industry, and it might just show you some of the things that are going on and give you a bit of encouragement.

So a little bit about me, I’m repeating again, if you’ve seen one of these before you’ll know a bit about me. My background is as a time-served craftsman with Ford Motor Company. I started in 1980 and became a maintenance fitter. And at that time there were a lot of pollution incidents, so I invented a product called Envirovalve in 1998. Simply an inflatable bladder system, lots of people now  copy it and do the same. What it was, in just a minute when we had an incident I could block a drain and use the drain as a containment area.

I remember back in 1998 speaking about this and some people quite seriously thought I was completely nuts because at that time everything was focussed on stopping anything going in the drain. My thought was “but everything aims for the drain because its gravity. So let’s use what we’ve got and make that a better structure.” I think it worked.

Now you’ve got product, which is a portable product and is used by the Firewater Brigade. The APEA actually asked me to design this for the firewater brigade, which is probably a kit. Now it’s not branded under Envirovalve, but DrainBlok which is a product that I’ve improved on and the Firewater Brigade still use that today.

APEA was the fuel industry awards. Then we started doing some work with the designs of valves, and most importantly for me, and it is a great privilege that the environment agency asked me to join the writing of CIRIA c736 and acted as the launch speaker. This is all to do with Buncefield. This is to do with Tertiary Containment, Firewaterwater Containment and Bund Designs.

My focus, as it will be today, is all about the tertiary. I’m a strong believer that most pollution incidents that get to controlled water are a failure of the tertiary and not the bunds. The bunds may fail, but the actual route, the pathway for pollution is via the tertiary.

So a little bit about who we work for. We’ve done some projects for all these companies. All varying degrees of involvement, and all have different reasons for calling us in. They’re all quite big name companies, but it shows the type of out there looking and are very interested in this subject, water pollution containment. They don’t want pollution. They don’t want it to happen, sometimes there is a little bit of ignorance, because you get local level people who don’t understand how to control a spill, they may not actually know they’ve got a spill kit, or know how to use it. We look at that work with these companies, to devise a simple plan to implement effective water pollution prevention.

So the first of the cases I want to talk about today is going to be Toyota. And I’ll also be looking at Marshall’s Aerospace, Ford Motor Company, and a project we did for Marks and Spencer’s. These are current projects, jobs that have been completed and been running for several years or they may have just been finished.

So I’ll start now with our first one today, which is all about automation, Toyota. So we’re looking at Toyota, this is their startup side. Now, most car industries are quite up to speed with environmental controls. They are big brand name companies, so they’re quite proactive, and they certainly don’t want to be dragged to the court to get their brands damaged by a water pollution incident. So they’re always proactive, and they’re a good companies to work for, good to have a chat with as well.

So, Toyota had a pollution exercise. They’ve already got firewaterwater and water pollution containment in place. They have  spill kits everywhere, and they’ve also got isolation valves on their drainage network. They’re running through a pollution exercise as part of their Environmental management system. The outcome was that it failed to meet the company standard requirements, which was to contain any pollution run off . So what they wanted to do is work out how could they contain a pollution event quickly. What they found out is that the system that they had installed and running took 45 minutes to actually operate.

Now anybody knowing our pollution system would know that, that isn’t quick enough. Also, it was a manually operated, so in the event of a pollution event they have to manually go around the site and operate the various pieces of kit, flow drainage, Penstock Valves. If that site was on firewater, the last thing that would be happening on that plant is people walking around aimlessly trying to find and close valves in the middle of yard areas, they’re system didn’t work. It highlighted that they needed to do something about it.

There you can see a standard Penstock Valve, quite common. It’s in a nice little catch pit, really good job. What you’ve got here is this, is this is one from, from that particular location. It says 700 penstock valve drops down. The flow is hitting it in the what we call the unseating position. Perfect. What it doesn’t do though, is it doesn’t stop the flow as you’ve still got a trickle, which is how a spill very often might occur, it’ll be just a trickle.

There will even be a trickle when we have firewater runoff when it’s running all the drainage networks. So what you end up getting is far less containment because you don’t get this,. this valve filling up because the water going through just passes through the bottom to the gaps of the sides. Yes, you can adjust the stoppers and get some  control but you’re never going to get full containment on that valve.

Other, other part to it is you got operate this one by hand. So what the site was initially looking at is how do we automate that valve? How can we actually get around to making that valve be automated, that was the first challenge we were given. My challenge , then was to say it’s pointless actually automating a valve unless we actually prove that it stops the flow. This valve didn’t stop the flow. It slowed the flow, and it would have stopped probably it was a good head of water. But under normal conditions, spill conditions, it didn’t really have much effect. It just creeps through, it seeps through onto the gaps, even though we’ve  adjusted the stoppers and get a bit clump.

So the challenge to us there I have just really covered it was to take the existing valves and make them automated. When we do that, you’ve got to look at speed of activation, you’ve also got to look at the, the mains power. There’s no point putting a valve that’s used to firewater container or pollution containment and running it off the mains and not having backup power.

So that needs to come from, we need to facilitate the fact that if that piece of equipment be safety critical, we have a fire on site or we have a power cut on site is that valve needs to stay operative. There’s quite a lot lots of businesses out there that they have manually operated penstock valves. There is no way you could operate one of those in a disaster. By the time you get to it, the disaster’s probably passed through the drainage network. Certainly, they’re not thought about. You’ve got to find them, lift manhole covers, there’s a handling issue.

When you go to mains power where we got to look at here is if you’ve got mains power. This system here is if you lose mains power, that valve does not operate. So you’ve got to come off line. So find to B mains power, but it must have, it must have some  battery backup or, or some  mains power of your battery support. And it’s got to have some  control where somebody could operate it, there’s no point in people having to walk around a whole site trying to operate a valve in a major disaster. The firewater brigade is going to take control and remove people.

The Toyota’s right there certainly as it’s got a foundry involved would definitely be people away. They won’t be allowing people to go wandering around a site to operate if it was not in the firewater brigade or they wouldn’t want to enter certain areas.

So what you got there is that’s what’s , the  setup. You get some standard setup, you got nice catch pit. Good job. There’s nothing wrong with it. But I’ve first of all questioned that valve actually would be activated in time of an incident, but it certainly doesn’t actually stop the flow. Probably that type of penstock valve, you’ve got a reasonable to stop a very heavy flow flood flows, but certainly not a very light pollution flow. It will just pass through the bottom and through the sides.

So what did we do? We ended up cost-wise where we’re able to replace all the existing valves with solar powered ToggleBloks valves, which some of you may know about our valves, I’ll show a little bit in a minute. So this is using the air activated systems nice and simple. I’ll show you some images in a second.

The valves are automatically triggered, therefore for the firewater alarm so that it gives a firewater alarm a little monitoring station that we put in the size of a mobile phone. To be honest, it’s not, it’s on a big piece of kit. It’s very, very simple. And the activation time was reduced from 45 seconds to under 15 seconds. That’s what you need to do. There’s no human beings now having to go around and operate these valves. At the end of the day, it’s human safety first in an event of a disaster what we’re looking at. We don’t want people running around trying to apply bits of spill guards etc. Let’s contain it in the very thing that we’ve got that actually will contain huge volumes of water, but let’s just make sure the design, it’s actually working.

If we can apply for small spills, the spill kits and the equipment you’ve got, that’s fantastic. But that’s more of a reactive; this needs to be done at the event of that incident. Stop that final release, because that’s the thing that’s going to cause your prosecution.

So what we’ve also done with the system, we’ve got there is reporting to key personnel. So if ever a valve closes, it communicates using the smartphone to actually say I’ve been activated. That also that gives them a log to actually see whether the valve closed, whether the valve opened. So I think any system that you’re designing, whether you’re using our product or not, you need to be thinking of those key points is, if you’re going to make its mains powered, it’s got to have some  backup. There’s no point in putting a safety critical piece of equipment in and worrying up to the mains power and there being a major power cut, which is when there’s a good chance you might have an over filling tank or such a failure of equipment, and the valves you’ve actually put in, you can’t operate them. If you’ve got penstocks, you’ve never tried to turn a 600 mil penstock down or up. You’ll find it hard work, and you certainly wouldn’t do it quickly.

So there’s the system that actually is in one of those sites, that’s one of the one of the pieces of kit very, very simple. Just, just literally is on the flow, you see that’s got the flow out. So this is actually going to be, again, replacing the penstock directly on seating. It will just drop down into the flow and close the flow off.

What you can see on the next image here is a control panel, that’s a 300-square little box. It’s bolted to the existing  areas, we have enough to do much reading about it. This is turning that  that manual valve now into an automated valve. A little tiny box is controlling that huge valve, little tiny solar panel and on your right is what we call out our ACP remote activated call point. What it means is you can actually operate up to eight valves of a single remote control device. This device here is using GSM, so it’s using the mobile phone networks. , you can do off radios. The beauty of mobile phone networks is its good coverage, you can only get around most, most sites. You haven’t got to worry about line-of-sight. But also it gives us good feedback. So we get information, whether the batteries are low, whether the valve’s opened, whether the valve closed. And these are really key things because a lot of sites we visit they’ve got a system that tells them that valve-operated, but didn’t necessarily tell them the valve actually closed, it just operated. And its key here is the valve, if the valve just closed, we need to know.

It should be, I’ll just give you a little image you haven’t seen before.

There’s a bit of a whistle. But that’s the alarm to actually say that’s activation because these are remote-operated valves. So if you were in a remote location, somebody needs to hear this sound to actually know that something’s happened. , alert you to the equipment been activated. And now the valves will just open. So this is just resetting what used to flow is hitting that flap. Well, you probably notice as if, if there was a heavy head without a really good firewater or a good pollution event and somebody opened that valve, it’s not going to release the water straight away.

The idea of it really is if you operate these valves, these are not pencil valves. Pencil valves are flow control device. These are isolation valves that are perfect if you got a flooding issue, or probably you got a pollution issue, they are stopping the flow getting in the direction that you wanted to stop. The thing that you must remember is, is that these are used for a safety critical piece of equipment, nice and quick using, using pneumatics and air, so we’ve got nice intrinsically safe. We’ve actually rated these up to a level of one, so that’s nice and simple piece of equipment.

Excuse me. So now what I move on to is Marshall. So this is quite a common thing that we get with quite a lot of sites as Marks and Spencer’s later is sites been told that they need to for their permits need to carry out some  monitoring. And a lot of sites do that by doing dip tests. So doing a dip test daily, weekly, whatever it is. And this is basically just to confirm that everything is okay. To me, really, I never quite worked out how that works, because I could literally go, it’s the same as driving your car, well, the tires are okay now, but then it still doesn’t mean you’re not going to get a puncture in the next 30 seconds.

If you do a dip test, it’s okay. When you do the dip test, it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re okay after you’ve walked away. So really, you’ve got to have any  water discharge where you’ve got a risk, it’s got to be live monitoring. So that’s what we really look at is if we’re going live monitoring, how do we react to that live monitoring? There’s no point in having a live alarm that goes we’ve got a high alarm or the pumps failed. And we can’t actually do anything about it. I think this is where the water industry fails. They got high alarms and say pumps fail. These pumps fail, the, the sites just flood, and then dump all the effort straight into the rivers and we got major pollution. It’s because there’s no ability to actually do anything about it.

So what you got here is nice to all attenuation pond, settlement pond where we like to call it, quite common on sites where they’re looking at controlling a certain flow. So what we here is where you see this headboard, that’s where we monitor the the pH, that’s where we’re going to take a pH measurement from this pond on the outfall. That’s the outfall there, that’s what was  built. What we’re looking at is how to monitor that, that goes into a lab, shut that flow off so that flow can’t get out. And then, the site conditioning about beauty, this is mainly, it’s about holding the material and allowing nature, the sunlight to naturally break down the pollutants.

So, so we’re looking at implementing a real-time monitoring, balancing the pond and provide an automated shut off in the event and that’s going to be I’m afraid, but it’s going to be ToggleBloks, it’s the easiest thing a bit kicks. When we got no power ups, there’s some of these areas. Luckily, this site, we do have a bit of power. Allow for remote activations of valves in an event of emergency. So what we’re looking at here is, is a control tower operation, so that there was a firewater and incident on a site that you can actually activate these valves without going to them. Again, this one here is done by an M2M system, excuse me. And what we can do is we can actually control it from, from anywhere in that site. They can operate those valves and report back. Key is, if you’ve done something if something’s happened, I want to know why.

So what we’ve done here is, this is chem tech pH system off the shelf. You know, these are systems that sites are already using. This one is mains powered. We have got mains power to site, but what would normally happen is this, this was put in, we’re monitoring the pH, great. We’re logging the pH, all we’re really doing for the regulator and the water company, etc, saying we had a problem last Thursday, you can find us. What we want to do is say we had a problem last Thursday, but nothing left the site because the minute that went outside of its consent, we shut the drain.

And that’s what we’re doing. That’s the simple idea. So we’ve installed this PH monitor which is logging, which is giving the site its logging information. So they’re able to put their memory stick in and log all the data from past records, which satisfies the regulator. Every time this valve though, is operated, it closes off the pond so we get a high pH. The first thing it will do is shut those valves. The first thing that those valves will do is report to site that they’ve closed. They’ll report that there is an incident, there is a problem, which means somebody can get out to that incident and actually deal with it quicker. We’re not just waiting, and, well, I dipped it on, I dipped it on Friday and we found out what’s the EO said there’s like a dead fish that we had got a problem but nobody spotted it.

This is, this is literally there and then. This is within seconds, I think we’ve got about a five second delay on that pH. That pH sees an alarm for five seconds it will trigger. Nice and simple.  It’s setup automated activation linked to the pH monitors. It’s turned a standard pH monitor which you could turn this into an interceptor alarm. It could be anything you like–a turbidity sensor, a TOC sensor. You’ve turned a standard alarm system instantly into something that’s giving you data. And that then could go into a web hub, so you can actually make this into a nice BMS front page. You can actually see what’s happening live. And that’s how that’s how this simple. It’s really simple. You’re not using complicated equipment. There’s very little power, there’s very little problem. This is a two-day installation.

The other thing we’ve got is  using that little our ACP that we make is you’ve now got some  automation from key points, They can have as many as they say like; it’ll operate up to eight valves, and each one when somebody presses it, will communicate to key staff which automation valve was  triggered, so they know where and who  operated it.

So what we got there to me is you’ve now got something that you can present to the regulator. You can present to whoever you need to to say, “We no longer just have a, we’re in, we’re in tolerance now.” This is constantly monitoring always, nice and simple, standard piece of equipment anybody can buy from any of you got, and what we got those chem tech, but you could use any pH so long as it’s got an alarm output.

So here’s a bit of kit we got here. You’ll see like, we got a pH that’s on a on a boom there. They’re just, just, just out; you got the valve that sits there now, nice and simple. So a little solar panel which is running our control pump, and we keep the valves really, so we don’t need to run our mains if we can if we want to, but we don’t need to because they need to be on all the time. The idea is, is to pH on here actually do get a power cut on site. These valves shut automatically anyway, because the pH will naturally going to alarm.

So we’ve also got the other thing that if the site did have some  catastrophic failure is what we’ll do is we’ll stop flow, which I think is most important point. Another one here now is full boat company is slightly ambiguous, really because it’s a full boat company. It’s actually a car showroom.

Now, what you’ve got here is it’s a sensitive area down in Dover. So you’ve got quite sensitive area to the entire agency with the water potential of risk building a brand new car showroom, so you wouldn’t normally associate that  industry with pollution risk, but they do have them. And so I just put out a little map just to show you, I’m sure there’s people that know that area quite well and know how bad it is. But what they’ve got is on their building; they’ve been hacked to fit some  pollution containment after the oil separator. Now, well, separators do have their own closed devices, not that reliable and you’ve got to maintain. The idea here is something really simple, that can connect it to the old headsets or alarm and trigger the valves.

So the challenge to us really is to satisfy, if I remember this was to satisfy the environment agency and planning authorities, because they weren’t going to give any, any planning permission, or wouldn’t allow the building to go through unless they could show that they could safely contain any form of pollution, specifically oils, I think, and cleaning products around the garage maintenance area. You know, small little business, but they can cause a significant amount of damage if the environment is sensitive.

So what you got there is we use a lot of Euro gauge. Nice bit of kit really. I really like them, dead simple. We link that into the oil intercepts alarm starts that’s on separate lines we use. And we link that into our piece of our ACP as well. So we’ve got a firewater containment plan. We’ve also got a basic all interceptor, high all alarm triggers of aftershock. There’s nothing much more simple than that.

The ToggleBlok is fitted on the waterfall outlets. We put a nice little chamber slinky to the old separate alarm, automatic activation. And it provides a remote operator controlling the workshop. So the workshop as well as if they do have an incident, they can close the valve. And it’s working really well. It’s just a, it’s with, to be honest, gosh, car show isn’t normally with people that would normally operate our valves. The staff find it really easy, it’s just two buttons and they get an indication of what the valve position is. It’s not really anything that they need to worry about too much, so it’s working really well and it’s open.

So all I can, all I can say is the environment agency must have approved the design and what we put into place. So here you see, you can actually see the, the installation that they’ve got. So there’s nice valve. This is pre any water going through it because as we finish the job, nice simple valve, the flow is  going through the valve. So again, the valve is being pushed up by the water when we close it and the last little control box inside the workshop area. This is actually a mains power plugged in one, so this is using mains power. If we do use mains power, we’ve got battery on it as well. So it’s always running on the battery if it loses power. And the system will run for about a month without any solar or any mains power. So you’re not going to really worry too much. And it will signal you to let you know that it’s got a low battery power, It’s also indicating that position of that valve.

So here’s another one that we’ve got now and find the one really which is much more complicated one, but I think quite interesting because this is Marks and Spencer’s. So they taken an old logistics park. I think it may have been one of their own existing sites, but they turn it into cold storage, so you’ve got a lot of pollutants around that. You’ve got a lot of milk, some products. They also put a vehicle refuelling station, a brand new one. So and it’s based down in Enfield. So what you got in Enfield, you’ve got the navigation, which creates a bit of concern over pollution. , you’ve got a reservoir on the other side as well. So it’s quite a high risk area.

And what you’ve got is on the consent is that the, the AI is looking for some  control to issue them with a new environmental permits. To be honest, as soon as a business looks at changing their permits or applying for a new permit, because of the changes in technology that are out there now is the environment agency are clearly in the right place to actually ask to say, “Well, you might have just had a couple of dry maps before, but really now we need to see that you can actually control the disaster.” And that means going back to the CIRIA guidance that I’ve talked about before. CIRIA c736 is actually understanding what actually happens when you have a major incident.

So I’ve got a little image there at the site. You can see the Rivoli navigation. It also got a reservoir also over here, but you can see here is what they’ve got is a huge, huge attenuation system. So what you’ve got a lot of these sites, especially the Enfield and London area is quite the big catchment area. It all runs into huge attenuation tanks in this grassed area. Those attenuation tanks then are pumped into an, a receiving chamber, that receiving chamber then moves into another oil separator and then off out across into the, the river.

Now, what we’re looking at is could we therefore, in the event of any form of incident, which is shut the site down, that’s linking that a little bit more complicated. So we’re looking at where we’ve got pumps, we’ll need to isolate the pumps. If we have a high alarm, we need to, we need to control it.

So the challenge is provide real-time monitoring again to satisfy the environment agency. We went for TOC system, total organic carbon, so it’s a real all singing or dancing, better kit. We got that from PPM, we  installed it and we’ve, we’ve worked with them quite well on it. They look after that piece of equipment, far too technical for me. But what that’s doing is that’s monitoring and looking for the, the organics at all times. And what that does is that links then into a taco box system and to an alarm system, so it provides, provides the key staff with information. So if this, if they have a power failure on the site, the valve shuts; the alarm system goes off. If they have any hydrocarbons present, if they have toxins, pH as well goes off, the valves will close and it will literally will lock the system down but it will also report to them.

They’ve also they’ve got activation points on the fuel island, which means that they can operate the valve quite a distance away, which will shut down. They’ve also got a security office which has actually got control of the valves as well. When we close this site down, it also needs to link into the pump stations because the pumps need to turn off. What you’ve got there then is quite a, quite a relatively low risk sighting what it does, because it’s not manufacturing as such. But it is constantly monitoring. I mean, we’ve, we’ve had a couple of incidents on there. Never pollution incidents, that incidents about we’ve picked up some vegetation that actually the TOC samples picked up and caused an alarm to go off. We actually had one once when we had a pump fail, so the pump failed, and that triggered the valve to go. But it does actually help because it alerts everybody that something’s gone wrong whereas normally with standard equipment if it hasn’t been automated. It fails and nobody seems to know until it’s too late or something actually there’s a little a bit of flooding, so something must have gone wrong.

So what we’ve done is we fitted the valves on to set TOC monitors, or, or present reports or cloud, I’ve got a little bit about that, that we’ve done. And this is going back now with the systems we’ve got reporting back into this, this cloud-based system. So here you go. It’s a nice bit of kit that we’ve gotten now. What you’ve got here is you’ve got a TOC monitor. And this is  running, got the PH.

Here, somebody just say my sounds going but I’m not quite sure why. So I might have a little bit of issue in the sound, I can’t really do anything about that. But I’ll just keep plugging on, so you can see the images. What you got here was the TOC sampler, got the PH monitor.  You got an oil separator alarm, interceptor that controls it, and you got a valve now in the catch pit. Here you can see the pumps running off.

And this is now what we were looking into. So what we always were monitoring the actual site’s levels. So what we do is we controlling. We know the Gully status is open and closed. We know that the remote triggers. This is a remote triggers are okay. And you see here is an alarm message. This is the TOC sensor. This is saying that we’ve got a high reading not necessarily going to close the valve, but it’s something they need to go look at. It’s actually a dummy screen to be honest, but it’s what it’s doing. It’s given us information to present what we’ve got.

So that’s it today. I’m sorry, got a bit of sound issues, which is really frustrating. I’m going to have to get interrupts our IT guys to sort out what why, why my laptop keeps dropping out. I hope it’s been interesting. Please get in touch. You can also join me on LinkedIn because I put a lot of a lot of stories and a lot of information out there on LinkedIn, which I’m sure you’ll find interesting. It’s more about getting, getting people engaged in this subject. Yes, we make a valve that’s really good for containing and stopping flow. But it’s actually making people start to think,
“Well, if we’ve actually got a piece of equipment does it actually work?” And we want you to try it and make sure it works.

There’s no point in buying equipment, or having penstock valves or having a system in place if it doesn’t actually do what you think it’s going to do. You know, it might just be that your site needs a bit of training on spill kit management, how to actually deal with it. But then when you look at them, the monitoring side of it, there’s loads of monitoring equipment out there that doesn’t actually connect to anything. It just says I’m an alarm, and people turn it off. We want that to be connected into something that makes you do something about it.

So yeah, get in touch. Go to LinkedIn and get me on there.  we are going to do another one of these on the 21st of November and I’ll have sorted out any of these problems. If you’ve got questions, please, because  we’ve had a few issues today. Ping us an email. Ping Martin or our email. I’ll get back to you. You can also arrange for us to come and do  a, a one to one work with your team. Okay, thank you. Goodbye.

David Cole MSEE

David Cole MSEE

Technical Director

David is a pioneer of the spill containment and water pollution prevention industry with 30 years experience. He was instrumental in the development of CIRIA736 with The Environment Agency and is passionate about preventing water pollution.

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