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Compost Used for Industrial Wastewater Cleanup Site

blue heron millGullywasher is using a 6-foot wall of compost to treat contaminated wastewater, a passive stormwater treatment system the company says is a first for an industrial cleanup project.

The composting system developed by Gullywasher is being used on the Blue Heron mill (pictured), which shut down in 2011 after 100 years of  continuous operation, reported the Oregonian. Ground and storm water carries metals and other pollutants absorbed from the mill’s galvanized roof and old piping to the Williamette River.

Canadian private investment from NRI Global purchased the mill’s equipment for $5.7 million and paid $1.6 million for site clean-up and maintenance. To date, about 7,000 tons of steel and 5,000 tons of stainless steel has been taken from the site to be recycled, reported the Oregonian.

The wall of compost is made up largely of bark stuffed into green mesh composting socks designed to absorb heavy metals. Gabions made of gravel and and compost will filter seepage under the mill before it flows into the nearby river. The compost socks are made by Filtrexx International, LLC, an Ohio company.

Aboveground, Gullywasher has installed 30 industrial rainwater gardens to clean water that collects zinc from the roofs, walls and tire dust, and copper from piping and brakes.

The market for wastewater and stormwater management projects like the Blue Heron are projected to grow as stringent legislation and rapid industrialization and urbanization requires more extensive water reuse and measures to protect the existing water supply. An analysis released in June 2013 projects revenues in the water and wastewater disinfection systems market will grow from $1.94 billion in 2012 up to $2.96 billion in 2019.

The US water treatment equipment market also is projected to grow 5.9 percent a year to reach $13 billion in 2017, according to a study released in July 2013. The gains will be largely driven by concerns over the health risks and environmental impacts of biological contaminants, chemicals and disinfection byproducts in supply water and wastewater, according to a study.

Photo of Blue Heron mill in Oregon City by Flickr user Ian Sane, CC 2.0

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