News Briefs: Vacuum Truck Explodes at Wastewater Plant

In this week's wastewater news, a California plant recovers from a chemical explosion, and New York City Harbor celebrates the return of humpback whales.
News Briefs: Vacuum Truck Explodes at Wastewater Plant

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A vacuum truck exploded at the Santa Clara Water Waste Co. near Santa Paula, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 18, spreading 1,200 gallons of a chemical mixture containing sulfuric acid and organic peroxide. According to an AP report, 37 people were treated at hospitals. The two drivers of the vacuum truck, three firefighters, hospital medical staff and some nearby residents were washed down and treated for breathing problems, skin rashes and red eyes.

The highly volatile chemical burns quickly, and response crews were left with a string of explosions.

“We had acids burning, we had wood, we had everything in the area, rubber on tires and boots burning,” says Ventura County Fire Captain Mike Lindberry in a CBS2 interview. “The big concern was the fact that if we were to have a large explosion, we don’t want people in that area.”

A mandatory evacuation was put in place for a 3-mile radius of the plant, and the nearby highway was shut down. Because the fire department feared contamination of local water sources, they had to wait for the fire to burn itself out.

Santa Clara Water Waste treats and disposes of contaminated but nonhazardous wastewater, including fluids from oil and gas exploration and production operations.

Soure: Huffington Post, CBS2

The Whales are Back!

New York City Harbor is cleaner than it’s been in a century, and one sign of success is the dramatic return of humpback whales, which were a common sight in pre-Colonial times. According to a tally by nonprofit Gotham Whale, which studies whales in New York City, 100 humpback sightings were recorded in 2014 — a dramatic increase from 2011 when only five sightings were reported during the season. By identifying fluke markings, researchers have also reported an increase in the number of unique whales.

“From common sense and a citizen science perspective, the trend is absolutely clear; it’s obvious that there are more and more whales in the New York City bay,” says Gotham Whale founder Paul Sieswerda, in a Discover magazine article.

The trend can be attributed to cleaner water, due in large part to investments in wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and green and gray infrastructure. According to a 2012 State of the Harbor report, the city expects to spend another $3.3 billion over the next 10 years on wastewater infrastructure, which will continue to improve water quality.

Source: Discover magazine

San Diego Advances Water Reuse Plan

The San Diego (Calif.) City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday, Nov. 18, to continue with a $2.5 billion plan to recycle wastewater for drinking water. According to the plan, the city will recycle 15 million gallons by 2023 and 83 mgd by 2035, which accounts for about one-third of the city’s water supply.

“The drought puts a finer point on why this is so necessary,” says Mayor Kevin Faulconer in a FOX News report. “Droughts are unfortunately a way of life in California, so we have to be prepared. This helps us control our own destiny.”

The city currently imports about 85 percent of its water from northern California and the Colorado River. The water reuse project is seen as a way to gain water independence.

Source: FOX News


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