Principal Consultant, Prana World Consulting, PO Box 1620, Oxenford, Queensland 4210, Australia
Stormwater represents one of the least researched forms of wastewater in environmental science. Contaminated industrial stormwater, that is stormwater generated by runoff from industrial sites such as refineries, smelters and mine sites, is even less well understood. However, contaminated industrial stormwater can have damaging environmental impacts because it generally occurs in sudden bursts of high velocity and can result in significant downstream contamination. Flows of hundreds of thousands of litres of industrial stormwater are not uncommon in heavy rain events, and even when reduced through dilution, infiltration, co-mingling and by subsequent rain events, contaminants in stormwater can pose a risk to healthy urban and industrial environments. For these reasons, more research on contaminated industrial stormwater is desirable. This study considered two laboratory-scale experiments and an on-site field trial to assess three novel approaches to the treatment of heavy-metal contaminated stormwater at a smelter site in London. The approaches included the direct addition of a reagent derived from alumina refinery residue (ARR) and two filtration applications through laboratory and on-site reactive systems, both of which contained a form of pelletised media manufactured from alumina refinery residue. These three approaches resulted in the removal of inorganic contaminants from industrial stormwater, including cadmium from 0.08 mg/L to 0.0008 mg/L and copper from 0.7 mg/L to 0.0 mg/L by direct addition and arsenic from 0.34 mg/L to below the detection limit and antimony from 9.3 mg/L to 0.3 mg/L by filtration, with all post-treatment concentrations below the allowable limits for discharge. Although preliminary in nature, this study confirms other findings associated with the reuse of modified alumina refinery residue as a viable chemical raw material in industrial wastewater and solids treatment applications throughout the world, and the use of filtration of stormwater rather than the more common direct addition approach deserves further consideration.