Wealth Creation without Pollution - Designing for Industry, Ecobusiness Parks and Industrial Estates

Wealth Creation without Pollution - Designing for Industry, Ecobusiness Parks and Industrial Estates


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The development of eco-industrial parks and associated ‘ecological industry’ concepts offer progressive integrated approaches to resolve pollution problems from effluents and wastes of all kinds. Most industry however is now located in business parks and industrial estates, with relatively few industries having direct discharges of process effluents to the water environment. But that does not mean no pollution. Many of these estates are very large, with many companies of all kinds spread over extensive areas. All have surface water drainage and stormwater runoff is often contaminated by many diffuse sources.

Wealth Creation without Pollution is the culmination of several years of deliberations by academics and regulators, engaging with industrial and commercial sectors to characterise and quantify environmental problems and identify best practice solutions. Equally important have been efforts to explore sufficiently flexible regulatory regimes that offer effective means to prevent pollution and achieve good working environments in which industry and commerce can flourish.

This book explores how modern industries are striving towards more sustainable practices, with case studies of impacts and of greener industry practices, as well as philosophical and policy papers. The role of regulators, planners and government in fostering a greener industrial base is also examined.

Wealth Creation without Pollution is a valuable text book for environmental science and engineering students, and a useful resource for industrial architects, developers and practitioners.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781780408330
Publisher: IWA Publishing
Publication date: 10/04/2017
Pages: 330
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.75(d)

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Industrial pollution and the water environment: a historical perspective

B. J. D'Arcy, L.-H. Kim and Peter Morrison


In the UK and much of Western Europe, the traditional image of smoke stack industries polluting the air, with oily and toxic effluent streams ruining rivers and coasts, is increasingly a historical one. As the home of the Industrial Revolution, many of the rivers and estuaries of the United Kingdom (Britain) were severely impacted by industrial waste streams. Heavily coloured with dyes, process effluents from textiles had high biological oxygen demand (BOD; also a characteristic of food industry and paper making effluents), whilst toxic metals and other pollutants were characteristic of tanneries, engineering, metal finishing and associated industries. Kay (1832) described the environmental conditions in Manchester during the Industrial Revolution:

• 'The (River) Irk, black with the refuse of dye-works erected on its banks, receives ... (drainage from) ... the gas works, and filth of the most pernicious character from bone-works, tanneries, size manufacturers, etc.

• (There is) no common slaughter house in Manchester, and those which exist are chiefly in (the) narrowest and most filthy streets in the town. The drainage from these houses, deeply tinged with blood, and impregnated with other animal matters, frequently flows down the common surface drain of the street ...'

Similar conditions prevailed in the other industrialising cities, prior to development of proper sewer systems and treatment works, and before modern techniques for recovering value from waste and adequately treating trade effluents were available. In the UK and Germany a whole spectrum of organic pollutants were discharged from the developing chemical industry, which – whilst revolutionising technology and products available for humanity – destroyed many miles of watercourses. Porter (1973) reviewed the impact of industry in four industrialised estuaries in Britain, making the case for government actions to reduce the pollution problems. Table 1.1 gives a quantitative idea of the contribution of local industries to the polluted condition of one of those estuaries, the Mersey.

A decade later and great improvements had been made on the Mersey (D'Arcy, 1988), and by the mid-1990s the impacts of industrial effluent discharges were in decline in many of the initially industrialising countries. In the UK, for example, in 1995 the Forth River Purification Board (FRPB) reported that only about 10% of its polluted waters were caused by industrial effluent discharges to the freshwater reaches of the river system (FRPB, 1995). Although the basis of the reporting system was changed on implementation of the European Water Framework Directive, to give a broader indication of good ecological status, the adverse impact of industry in relation to process effluent discharges, has continued to decline in Scotland.

Table 1.2 lists the relative importance of industrial impacts compared with other water pollution sources currently in the USA (Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2014). Evidence for industrial pollution impacts is reported in the USA as impairments – actual or threatened impairment of potential use. Only a proportion of States reported data to the USEPA, so the figures do not necessarily represent a national picture. For assessed rivers and streams, industry ranked 12th as a pollution cause. When the miles of impairment due to industry are expressed as a percentage of impaired rivers and streams, industry accounts for only 2.2% of total reported impairments.

In many industrialised countries there was a shift of industry to the coast, to areas closer for supply of raw materials and for export of products. Some large industries perhaps also sought locations where large volumes of difficult effluent could be discharged into a perceived greater degree of dilution. For bays and estuaries in the USA (Table 1.3), the continuing importance of industrial discharges is still evident, although still causing fewer impairments than atmospheric deposition, 'unknown', and municipal discharges/sewage. Although the 4th largest individual cause, industry accounted for only 9% of the total impaired area for bays and estuaries in the USA (USEPA accessed 14.3.2014, in http://iaspub.epa. gov/waters10/attains_nation_cy.control#total_assessed_waters).

The decline in industrial impacts has been a result of three factors:

(a) Economic decline and failure of old industries to modernise and be more efficient; such businesses were often serious polluters and many have closed.

(b) Improvements in effluent quality occurred as the economic value of materials comprising the effluent was recognised; leading to more efficient use of resources, product or raw material recovery, and waste minimisation philosophy and practices.

(c) Development of better treatment technology, as a process focus was applied across a business driven by regulatory requirements in parallel with the business need in (b) above.

A more efficient approach includes responding to regulation and economics by producing by-products rather than wastes (e.g., animal feed from spent grain from distilleries, biogas from sugar industries). That modern approach (D'Arcy et al. 1999) means that no longer will the cost of effluent treatment be determined by:

(pollutant load) × (cost of pollutant removal/m3) = cost of effluent treatment operation (& size of treatment plant)

Instead a process of evaluation of use of resources, maximisation of primary product production and capture, resource optimisation and recovery, and potential for by-products (including energy and water) from what were formerly wastes, is the basis of a modern and more sustainable industrial business. Examples are given in Edwards and Johnston (1996), D'Arcy et al. (1999), and D'Arcy (1991). In order to facilitate the adoption of such a philosophy, it is essential that waste regulators do not require by-products to still be treated as wastes and subject to restrictive and bureaucratic waste regulations.

Serious problems remain however, especially in developing countries, where pollution history has often been repeated, with primitive attitudes to single-purpose production with all the inefficiencies that cause gross pollution. Examples include the heavily industrialised catchments of the Tiete and Cubatao rivers in Brazil, the chronic pollution problems of the Niger Delta Oilfields in Nigeria, and the environmental impacts of industrialisation in some parts of Asia (references in Tables 1.4–1.5). The economic consequences include destruction of waterdependent business opportunities for others downstream (e.g., food industries, local fisheries and tourism), as well as more obvious environmental and human impacts. Such characteristics, reminiscent of all the mistakes of early industrialisation two hundred years ago in Europe, may be compounded by the continuing pollution problems – still evident in Europe and the USA – associated with stormwater management, and with persistent pollutants.

Pollution of the water environment from industry is not simply a consequence of effluent process discharges or major accidents. The following sections briefly consider environmental impacts of industrial effluents, of diffuse pollution at point of manufacture/processing, and diffuse pollution at point of application of products and in use.


1.2.1 Industrial effluents

Detailed consideration of effluent treatment technology is outwith the scope of this book, since each industry has its own characteristics and hence specific detailed requirements. For effluents, this introductory paper only seeks to introduce the issues and some example pollution history, as a context for design considerations for modern industrial development.

An industrial or trade effluent is an aqueous waste stream, associated with an industrial process. The latter could be production of beer or spirits, industrial ethanol, bleaching textiles, cooling systems, washing plant, vehicles or premises, or refining crude oil to produce the spectrum of hydrocarbons for the petrochemicals industry, or any of many other activities which generate contaminated wastewater.

It is not unusual for water quality in rivers in industrialised countries to have been dominated by effluent discharges from industry, for example the estuaries of the Tees and the Mersey in England, UK (Porter, 1973), and other internationally notable examples in Table 1.4.

Sometimes a single industrial discharge alone was sufficient to severely degrade a river or estuary, for example the BOD load from a yeast factory discharged in the 1990s to the head of the estuary of the River Forth in Scotland. Industrial effluents accounted for 97% of the pollution, and one plant – a yeast factory at the head of the estuary – dominated, accounting for downgrading 6.1 km2 of the estuary to class 3, the second lowest quality ranking in a four-category classification scheme where 1 was excellent and 4 seriously polluted (FRPB, 1995). The Forth was restored to good quality, with the return of sensitive fish species such as sparling (Osmerus eperlanus) as clean up systems were introduced at the industrial premises (recovering value from waste, and treatment of residuals).

1.2.2 Mining industry

Mining is an interesting pollution source, since it is often intimately linked to the water environment. Panning for gold in-river (Tarras-Wahlberg et al. 2000; Bannister et al. 2006) has caused degradation of watercourses and surrounding landscapes on varying scales, especially when toxic chemicals (e.g., cyanide and mercury) are used to enhance recovery of the mineral (Pulles et al. 1996; Jones & Miller, 2004; San Francisco Estuary Institute [SFEI], 2015). Surface mining exposes earth to wind and rain erosion and exhibits therefore the characteristics of diffuse pollution, including risks of oil spills or leaks from machinery. Deep mines can result in a legacy of pollution long after the mine closes, due to chemical changes in the strata during the period when groundwater was being continuously pumped from the mine to allow extraction of the resource, whether gold, coal or other minerals (Younger. 2000; Dowson, 2003; Heath et al. 2009). Even quarrying silica sand can cause low pH drainage; arising from sub-soil overburden dumps, when sulphides are oxidised and weak sulphuric acid seeps from the dump in wet weather, unbuffered by calcium minerals. Examples of pollution associated with the mining industry are given in Table 1.5.

In Scotland there were some 560 coal mines in the 1800s; a hundred years later there were 218, of which 110 were in the Forth catchment. By 1995 only 2 remained. Yet 22% of the downgraded reaches in the freshwater river Forth, was accounted for by mining (FRPB, 1995). The great majority of those impacts by then were due to water table rebound, when groundwater re-filled the abandoned mine workings, leaching ferrous sulphate, produced during the active mining period of dry conditions, when naturally present insoluble sulphide in the rocks became oxidised to (soluble) ferrous sulphate. On mixing with river water as the groundwater emerged as a spring (often not at the former effluent discharge point), the ferrous sulphate removed oxygen from the water and precipitated as orange ochre – insoluble ferric sulphate which characterises the ferruginous discharges across the UK in former coal mining catchments (Younger, 2000). Trade effluent discharges ceased, and diffuse pollution increased.

1.2.3 Effluent impacts case study: The River Mersey Bird Mortality

The River Mersey is formed from the confluence of industrialised tributary rivers which arise in the Pennine hills above Manchester, in NW England. The river runs from Manchester for 113 km to the sea in Liverpool Bay. The Mersey Estuary has an extensive inner basin, flanked on the south side by the Manchester Ship Canal, which received effluent from a lead anti-knock (tetra-alkyl lead) plant in Ellesmere Port (Figure 1.1). Following a steadily improving trend in water quality during the 1980s, fish began to return to the estuary (Wilson et al. 1986) and the estuary supported large numbers of over-wintering wildfowl and wading birds.

In September 1979, sick and dead wading birds, plus a handful of waterfowl, began to be noticed by bird watchers at a ringing station in Hale, on the north bank of the upper estuary, and by wildfowlers on the marshes along the south bank. Both local groups stated that the phenomenon was highly unusual and they suspected pollution. Analysis of the dead birds revealed elevated concentrations of lead in liver and other tissues. But the concentrations were lower than in some estuaries draining lead-mining catchments (e.g., Gannel in Cornwall), where there were no bird mortalities.

In any such investigation, it is by no means always clear which are the chemicals to be investigated in an effluent brew of product, process side reactants, raw materials and the spectrum of forms in between. Associated Octel Company (AOC), the manufacturer of the lead anti-knock product, conducted their own investigations and analysis for their product and its tri-alkyl lead water soluble, stable, break-down derivatives. They informed the investigators in North West Water of their belief that the pollutant affecting the birds was tri-alkyl lead. The bird mortalities continued through October 1979, ceasing in November. The company co-operated fully with the investigations and no-one was initially able to explain why the incident should occur suddenly in 1979. Subsequent laboratory tests dosing starlings with alkyl lead replicated the symptoms observed in the dying birds, and post-mortem analysis of the starlings revealed comparable tissue concentrations of lead to those found in the dead/sick wading birds from the Mersey (Osborne et al. 1983). The organic form of lead was not only water soluble, but more fat soluble than inorganic lead. That greater availability seemed likely to explain why mortalities occurred at elevated total lead concentrations, but lower than might be expected from estuaries polluted by inorganic lead from historic mining activity. Why did this occur in 1979? One theory was that the spat 'bloom' of the small estuarine shellfish Macoma balthica which was noted in the upper estuary, provided a preferred food species which bioaccumulated the lead, replacing the more usually available (in the Mersey) worms in the diet of the birds; the shellfish had five times the lead concentration of the worms (Maddock & Taylor, 1980; Wilson et al. 1986). The last detail which needed to be resolved was the fact that the AOC discharge was into the tidal reach of the Manchester Ship Canal, (MSC), not the Mersey. The environmental compartments from process effluent to biota were:

Process effluent -> MSC water -> Estuary water -> biota -> birds -> man (wildfowlers)


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Table of Contents

Industrial Impacts on the water environment; The ecobusiness parks concept; Sustainable drainage systems for Industry and commerce; Environmental Regulation and contingency planning; How to improve existing pollution problems?

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