DEQ Laboratory recognized for environmental compliance
The DEQ Laboratory, run in conjunction with the Oregon Health Authority’s public health lab in Hillsboro, won recognition in April 2014 for its successful efforts in treating wastewater from the lab facility and complying with efforts to keep contaminants out of the Tualatin River Watershed.
The lab was one of 39 Washington County-based facilities receiving an Industrial Partners Pretreatment Award from
Clean Water Services. The award recognizes a wide range of facilities—from food processors to laboratories to microchip manufacturers – for keeping harmful wastewater contaminants out of the local watershed. The DEQ/public health lab and other award recipients all had perfect environmental compliance records in 2013.
A wastewater treatment facility installed at the lab complex several years ago handles process wastewater produced at the lab. Most of the lab’s wastewater is clean sink water, but the wastewater does include a small volume of water from lab samples that are disposed after use. DEQ’s lab uses a number of acids – primarily nitric acid and sulfuric acid – to help preserve and test samples brought in for analysis. Acidified samples are neutralized before being poured down a sink and therefore don’t make a significant contribution to the wastewater treatment system. The lab’s treatment facility further neutralizes wastewater the lab processes to ensure acceptable acidity balance.
“We’ve made efforts over the years to reduce possible pollutants and are not aware of any significant pollutant levels in our wastewater system,” notes Paul Seidel, manager of the lab’s technical services section.
Seidel adds that DEQ tracks both the flow and volume of wastewater it processes through its industrial wastewater discharge permit. Lab office specialist Gary Crosby supports the laboratory in achieving its compliance goals and helps out during periodic inspections. The wastewater discharge enters the local distribution system and eventually gets another round of treatment at the Clean Water Services Durham Road facility in Tigard before entering the Tualatin River.
Hazardous waste produced in the lab is processed separately from wastewater and according to procedures for those wastes, Seidel notes.
Seidel and Crosby accepted the Clean Water Services award on DEQ’s behalf at a special ceremony April 23 at the CWS headquarters in Hillsboro.