Sheffield’s sewage treatment deemed safe after repairs to chlorine system finished – PHOTOS

By  | September 9, 2019 | Filed under: News

Sheffield Utilities’ Tommy Barnes gives Quad Cities Daily tour of treatment plant

SHEFFIELD – Sheffield Utilities Facilities director, Tommy Barnes took the Quad Cities Daily on a tour of the Sheffield wastewater treatment plant. He showed us the portion of the facility where a minuscule amount of Chlorine is added to the already-treated effluent from the facility just prior to release into the Tennessee River. This particular portion of the plant is surprisingly small. It is actually a backup system that provides the final purification of the outflow if, for some reason, the main chlorine system fails.

Barnes explained that a malfunction in a switching valve in this backup system failed, and vented chlorine from the small tank into the atmosphere. About 1:35AM sunday morning, plant operators were notified by the computer monitoring system that there was an anomaly within the chlorine system. Calls went out to repair personnel who headed up to the facility. When the incident happened, the amount of chlorine gas released from the 150 pound-capacity tank was estimated to be about 130 pounds of gas. Later Sunday morning, just a few hours before we arrived at the facility, the team of technicians from the Mobile, Alabama supplier of the chlorine had finished the repair work on the backup system. They determined at that time that a smaller amount of gas had escaped, about 60 pounds. It is still a potentially dangerous amount of the highly toxic gas, but was considerably less than originally estimated.

City sewage enters the plant in a recently-constructed state-of-the-art system of holding ponds and filtration systems where most of the waste is separated from the raw sewage and then is rendered back into clean water. Barnes took us to the outflow portion of the plant where the treated water, now rendered safe for reintroduction into the river, pours out of the purification system and into the chlorine contact system. He told us that the State of Alabama considers this treated water is safe at this point. In fact, the Sheffield wastewater treatment plant outflow is considered by the State to be the purest water of all facilities of this kind.

The big tanks, which hold about 1,500 pounds of chlorine, are the primary feed-source of the gas. That system did not fail, was thoroughly checked by the technicians. It was found to be in nominal operating order.

The Sheffield Utilities Department has a plan for incidents such as this and Barnes said the plan was followed perfectly. He does not anticipate any future problems with the chlorine system, now that it has been repaired and thoroughly inspected.

Repaired valve on chlorine system which was repaired and placed back into service.

He also said that the plant is regularly inspected by State engineers to ensure that all purification systems in the chain are in nominal working order.

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