Creating Solutions for PFAS & AFFF Wastewater

Client: Regional Mechanical Contractor

Issue: Disposal Restrictions for Fire Fighting Foam

Solution: A Disposal Plan That Protects Our Water Supply

A Mechanical Contractor had a complex waste problem. The fire protection systems that they managed were required by State law to be tested on a regular basis. Some of these systems contain Aqueous Film Forming Foam, also known as AFFF.

For many years, the wastewater from these AFFF system tests could be discharged into the sewer system or hauled off-site for traditional wastewater treatment. However, AFFF contains compounds called Perfluoroalkyl and Polyflouroalkyl Substances, also known as PFAS, and “forever” chemicals. Recently, more has been learned about how PFAS can contaminate drinking water. This has led to urgent efforts to minimize its negative impact on the environment.

For our Mechanical Contractor clients, those efforts presented a giant challenge. How could they continue serving their clients and complying with State law while managing the disposal of AFFF waste responsibly and compliantly? 

Because  ERC Midwest helps this client solve a variety of complex waste problems, like glycol wastewater disposal from air chiller systems and confined space rescue assistance, they contacted us to help guide them to a solution. 

Can you help us?” was the question. “Of course,” was our answer.

PFOS Sources

There was only one problem. We didn’t know how to help the client at first. AFFF & PFAS wastewater disposal had only recently become a new problem and we didn’t have an immediate solution. Environmental regulation was unclear and undeveloped. But that wasn’t our client’s problem, it was ours. We immediately went to work to learn more about the situation and develop a plan that would meet our client’s needs and protect the environment.

We discovered that the problem was much bigger than just AFFF wastewater.

PFAS compounds are also found in wastewater from the manufacturing of products like Food Packaging, Makeup, Wax, Paint, Carpet, Furniture, Non-Stick Cookware and Even Outdoor Clothing.  

Fortunately, we determined and designed a solution quickly.

First, we designated and segregated tanks, hoses and piping at our wastewater treatment facilities specifically for managing AFFF and PFAS wastewaters. Then we designed a testing and approval process to ensure that AFFF and PFAS wastewater received at our facilities is managed properly based on its concentration. Next, we determined the appropriate treatment technology for various AFFF and PFAS concentrations. The lowest concentration levels can be removed through filtration, while higher levels must be disposed of at a Deepwell Injection facility or Subtitle C landfill.

We are now managing AFFF and PFAS wastewaters for Mechanical & HVAC Contractor clients throughout the Midwest. This is allowing them to do their work, keep their customers safe, and protect our precious water resources.

We were proud to be the guide that helped this client achieve its goals.

Another complex waste problem solved. Happy Client!

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