West Lothian trials new SUDS solution for contaminated run off

West Lothian Council is trialling a new form of drainage system to test its effectiveness at removing oil and other hydrocarbons from contaminated surface water.

As part of its refurbishment of the Almond Valley Bridge, the council is working in partnership with Oil Remediation Technology to improve its drainage system and the quality of water discharged into the River Almond.

When considering solutions, the Council was introduced to ORT and decided to pilot its Advanced Treatment Station (ATS) – a new system developed in association with the Contaminated Land Assessment & Remediation Research Centre (CLARRC) at Edinburgh University.

It consists of a series of chambers which remove heavy solids, silt, metals and oils as the water passes through.

This not only removes contaminants, but as the run-off is captured and then slowly released, it acts to help prevent flooding too.

Convener of West Lothian’s Community Safety Committee, Councillor Jim Swan, said: “I hope the pilot scheme proves successful and helps to reduce pollution in the Almond. There is currently no filtration system in place to treat contaminated surface water discharging from the bridge into the river.”

ORT will fit the ATS technology and monitor the effectiveness of the system over the next year.

Iain Robinson, managing director of ORT told edie: “This system offers considerable benefits over existing systems collectively known as SUDS as it also contains a sensor device which can detect high levels of hydrocarbons in drains or storm water. When it does, it triggers an airbag in the drain which shuts the system down, preventing the polluted water entering the water course.”

This would make it ideal for detecting oil spills or major leakages on the roads, he added.

Work is ongoing to develop the system to also tackle the high level of salts found in road runoff during the winter after road salting. Mr Robinson told edie that the active ingredient in the system, mycelex – which removes hydrocarbons – has also been successful in removing various pesticides in lab tests, and now the company is looking at developing a similar system for agricultural run-off.

Colin Cunningham, Director of CLARRC said: “Most people never think about pollution coming from roads, but if you imagine the volume of traffic on a busy motorway such as the M8 and each vehicle contributes contaminants from their tyres, exhausts and from oil leaks, this adds up to a substantial problem for our rivers.”

David Hopkins

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