ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge Refinery has won a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) second-place 2017 Gulf Guardian Award in the Business & Industry Category. The refinery is recognised for innovation in reducing nitrogen pollution in its wastewater.
Ben Scaggs, Director of the US EPA’s Gulf of Mexico Program, said: “Whether for individual recreational use or as an economic engine supporting a wide variety of jobs and industry, the Gulf of Mexico is a vibrant yet vulnerable ecosystem. Protecting this national resource requires innovative approaches and proactive measures. The Gulf Guardian award winners are paving the way for ‘out of the box’ thinking and replicable practices.”
ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge Refinery built innovative wastewater treatment tanks, specifically designed to reduce the amount of nitrogen pollution in the wastewater. The tanks, which work by using different biological processes, can hold a combined 14 million gal. of wastewater at a time, equivalent to the amount of water held by 21 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The tank-in-tank design allows for two separate zones of biological treatment, one without oxygen and one with oxygen. These two separate zones allow for greater reduction of nitrogen in the wastewater and overall improved wastewater treatment.
Since starting the new system in July 2014, the refinery has reduced nitrogen by over 85% and decreased solids and biochemical oxygen demand emissions.
Nitrogen in water contributes to nutrient pollution, which causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Excess algae harms water quality and decreases oxygen in water, which fish and other aquatic life need to survive. Each year, the Gulf of Mexico is affected by large amounts of nutrient pollution, which contributes to a ‘dead zone’ in the water where very little aquatic life can survive.