Hi-Quality Group’s Daniel Blair and Cory Menant speak with Waste Management Review about the company’s evolving wastewater treatment capabilities.
In October 2019, the Heads of EPAs agreed to the latest version of the PFAS National Environment Management Plan (NEPM), with all state and territory environment ministers endorsing the plan last year.
According to the NEPM, the presence of PFAS in the environment does not necessarily constitute an unacceptable human health or environmental risk.
Rather, risk depends on a range of factors including PFAS compounds present, PFAS leachability and concentration, degree of exposure and environmental values.
With its variability and complex treatment metrics, PFAS represents one of the waste and resource recovery sector’s most present challenges.
Taking on that challenge is a central focus for Hi-Quality Group’s Waste Treatment Services division, which currently offers off-site PFAS water treatment solutions and is in the process of developing in-house treatment capabilities.
Daniel Blair, Hi-Quality Group Waste Treatment Services General Manager, explains that the company has worked on a number of large-scale PFAS treatment projects at airports and other sites – treating PFAS contaminated groundwater to environmentally acceptable levels.
“We’re now in the process of developing in-house treatment capabilities in line with current EPA guidelines and industry best-practice,” he says.
The development of in-house PFAS treatment capabilities builds off Hi-Quality Group’s extensive experience in water treatment and technological innovation. While the company has diversified in recent years, it began its life in landfill and quarries.
Many of Hi-Quality Group’s sites are co-located, Blair says, with landfills and quarries working concurrently.
“We treat the water that’s being used and generated by the quarries and landfills onsite using a broad range of industry proven technologies. Hi-Quality Group is committed to sustainable landfill management and recycling water at every opportunity,” he says.
UNIQUE BATCH CONTROL
As Waste Management Review readers will be aware, Hi-Quality Group’s Yatala hazardous waste treatment facility opened in August 2020 – with the purpose-built facility using a combination of EPA approved treatment processes to achieve sound environmental outcomes.
Since then, a wastewater treatment plant has been incorporated into the facility – rounding-out the group’s end-to-end hazardous and liquid waste treatment capabilities.
To support the site’s steady flow of trucks and material, Hi-Quality Group installed Mandalay Technologies’ Facility Product Suite software. The software streamlines facility management, meaning the Hi-Quality team can dedicate themselves to customer support, treatment and technology.
“We receive a variety of wastewaters from large industry and mining, and have the capabilities to take in a wide range of contaminants including heavy metals and organics,” Blair says.
He adds that the plant uses a batch process, meaning each batch of water is treated separately using tailored technologies and treatment methods.
“Because the incoming water comes from a large range of sources with diverse contaminants, the process can’t be automated,” Blair explains.
“Every raw batch is assessed on its contamination levels, before we design a treatment technology and process that complies with EPA guidelines.
“Having the batch control process gives us a huge amount of flexibility in what we can treat and how we treat it, which in turn insures we can always find the right solution for our customers.”
All water treated at the site is discharged under Hi-Quality Group’s Trade Waste Licence, with solids such as filter-cake analysed, treated and sent to landfill.
According to Cory Menant, Hi-Quality Group Waste Treatment Services National Business Development Manager, the plant is receiving significantly more wastewater than the company had anticipated.
“Water treatment now represents roughly 25 per cent of the business we do at Yatala,” he says.
Hi-Quality Group not only discharges treated water, Menant adds, but recycles it where appropriate before using the resulting water for cleaning, washdown and dust-suppression.
“Our services are in high demand at the moment, which shows this type of facility was needed by industry and that’s reflected in the number of trucks we see each day,” he says.
Blair adds that Yatala’s water treatment plant compliments Waste Treatment Services’ wider business, which develops innovative and sustainable solutions to offer integrated waste treatment, recycling and environmental remediation services.
“When remediating contaminated sites, not only do we have to treat the soils, but also the surface water, brown water and ground water. We provide the whole package – taking the soil offsite is one thing, but we can also take water offsite as well,” he says.
Looking forward, Blair expects water treatment to play an evolving role in the company’s ongoing growth and development.
“If we take what we’ve seen over the last six months at Yatala, water treatment is going to be a big part of what we do. It’s a growing market for us, particularly in regard to highly contaminated sites, PFAS and other emerging contaminants,” he says.
“We see wastewater being a significant part of our growth in the next five to 10 years – both onsite and off – and that’s why we’re strategically investing in this area.”