Rockdale, Pratt reach aggrement on waste treatement costs

CONYERS -- The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners reached an agreement Monday with Pratt Industries to pay for costs relating to a 2010 outage at the Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) wastewater pre-treatment facility.

The 2010 outage cost $700,000, due to the shutdown and restart of the facility.

Pratt Industries has agreed to pay the remaining costs -- a little under $182,000 -- in addition to the over $373,000 that it has already paid. The additional costs have been funded by ESG Operations Inc. which operates the plant.

"The ability to significantly influence the performance/output of the UASB is a shared function, with both Pratt as well as ESG Operations having the ability to create conditions that result in an 'outage of the UASB,'" said Dwight Wicks, director of Rockdale Water Resources. "The settlement was a neutral position with neither being cited as creating the 'outage' as there were no changes in actions by either that resulted in the failure of the UASB."

The UASB is known as a "pre-treatment" facility because it reduces the concentration of organics in wastewater produced by Pratt's paper mill before the wastewater is processed by the Quigg Wastewater Treatment Plant. Pratt is an Australian-based company that has its U.S. corporate headquarters in Conyers. The company produces cardboard material from recycled materials at its Conyers mill and other facilities across the United States.

In January and February 2010, the UASB was removed from service because it was not removing the proper amount of organics from the wastewater. The resulting outage cost $700,000 in total.

"The UASB initial failure occurred over a two-month period and did not respond to attempts by the ESG staff to restore the normal performance level," Wicks said. "Thus the unit eventually failed in February and was down for approximately five days for removal/replacement of the bacterial media with new media and resumption of operations."

RWR believes the biological media in the plant became "fouled" over time. Wicks said the water utility will take additional steps to ensure this does not happen again in the future.

"Additional testing of the UASB and monitoring of biological activity are key preventive steps taken," Wicks said. "Additional process instrumentation was installed to allow for continuous monitoring of critical process control parameters. Monthly reviews of data to identify harmful trends that may result in unit failure have also been instituted. Also, the unit will be scheduled for periodic shutdowns for media inspection and/ or replacement."

The agreement for payment was reached during meetings between RWR, Pratt Industries and ESG Operations.

"Rockdale County and ESG officials are extremely pleased with the finalization of this agreement as it signals a strong vote of confidence from Pratt Industries in the county management team entrusted to operate one of its most important and critical facilities," Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden said in a press release.