I have been in the plating or coating industry for over 30 years from coating ammunition to POP, PWB and Electrolytic plating. I am a licensed WWT operator in multiple states and although each state has their own unique limits for the effluent they all can be controlled if the chemistry you are using is combatable to your WWT system.
Several cleaners on the market contain chelators such as EDTA or amines this is great for extending the life of the cleaner but limits the ability to properly treat the material in a wastewater treatment system. The chelators can tie up metal in your wastewater system and prevent the proper treatment of your water.
One of the other items people do not discuss a lot is the amount of solvent that can be in the cleaners and how it affects your wastewater system. Our facility is very fortunate being in Indiana we are able to comply with the EPA’s TOMP or what some people call a Solvent Management Plan. Being able to be part of this plan we only need to check TTO’s or Total Toxic Organics once every 5 years or in the first six months of a new WWT permit. Being a facility that treats water for cyanide the amount of solvent in the cleaner can be a big deal.
We were fortunate to find a very good cleaner that would work over multiple base metals and as most companies should do we started with one tank and within a couple of years we were using this cleaner in several tanks. We came up on our permit renewal and after sampling for our TTO’s we realized they were still under the control limits but our chloroform numbers had increased by 3 times the amount in the prior testing 5 years ago. We will still under any permit limits but the State and we wanted to understand why the number was elevated by 3. We spent a lot of time researching what can cause chloroform to form in your waste water with the help of EPI we were able to find the source, and find a solution. To be honest it is scary to know there are so many videos on the internet on how to make chloroform. You can mix virtually any solvent with bleach or sodium hypochlorite and generate chloroform in your waste water and not even know there is any solvent in your cleaner.
Some water born solvent such as M-pyrol or glycol ethers can be added to cleaners and may not be recorded to the SDS based on the hazard. We found that the cleaner chemistry that we were using at the time was generating all of the chloroform that was found in our waste water effluent after the water went through the cyanide destruct using sodium hypochlorite. We were able to contact EPI to help us change to E-Kleen SR102E, a cleaner that did not contain any solvents to eliminate the generation of any chloroform in our effluent. Our TTO number went down to their original levels and everyone was satisfied with our end results.
Ben McKnight, EHS Director
Learn more about E-Kleen SR102E by clicking here!