Control of Odor and VOC Emissions at Wastewater Treatment Plants -Boston Harbor Case Study-

by Robert Getter, Metcalf & Eddy, Inc, Wakefield, United States,
Cheryl Breen, Metcalf & Eddy, Inc, Wakefield, United States,
Mark Laquidara, Metcalf & Eddy, Inc, Wakefield, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Critical Issues in Water and Wastewater Treatment


Siting of the new wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) in Boston was based on an assumption of mitigation of total reduced sulfur (TRS) and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. Collection and treatment of exhaust streams from potential emission sources was recommended. Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for VOC control was conservatively suggested to consist of wet scrubbing followed by carbon adsorption based on initial sampling performed in 1988 during facilities planning, which estimated uncontrolled VOC emissions in excess of 1000 tons per year. This concept was carried forward to the design phase in 1990, concurrent with an extensive air emissions testing and pilot treatment program at the MWRA's existing primary treatment plant. Results of the pilot program, however, indicated source VOC concentrations well below what was expected as a result of the initial sampling study. Use of the 1990 pilot data in a top-down BACT analysis led to a recommendation to reconsider VOC control with carbon adsorption on the basis of prohibitive cost. This paper summarizes the background and permitting approach for five new odor control facilities on Deer Island for the Boston Harbor Project, with emphasis on the new primary treatment facilities. The paper also presents results from the 1990 emissions characterization and pilot program, providing generally applicable ideas for solving the difficulties of characterizing and estimating emissions for WWTPs. Results from operation of the pilot facilities illustrate the effectiveness of wet scrubbing and carbon adsorption in removing TRS and VOCs from wastewater treatment exhaust air streams. In addition, pilot program results indicate the importance of flexibility in design of odor control systems to accommodate variations in concentrations of TRS and VOCs.

Subject Headings: Wastewater treatment plants | Water treatment plants | Volatile organic compounds | Emissions | Odors | Carbon fibers | Adsorption | Massachusetts | United States | Boston

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