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DuPont
Managing Strategic Risk Through Innovative Wastewater Treatment
 

DuPont operates a nylon and polyethylene manufacturing plant in Victoria, Texas along the Guadalupe River and Victoria Barge Canal. The plant, which began operation in 1951, historically relied on deep well injection as its sole wastewater discharge method. While this approach continues to be a wastewater disposal option approved by the U.S. EPA, DuPont was concerned about the business disruption that could result from increasing community concerns and potential regulatory changes that would restrict this technique in the future. To eliminate this risk, DuPont worked with experts and the local community to develop an innovative water treatment facility and wetlands water recovery system to replace DuPont’s use of deep well injection.

DuPont modified production processes to recover and reuse over 250,000 pounds of material formerly lost to wastewater streams each day. Of this material, 75% is sold to customers or recycled as catalyst and raw material, and the other 25% serves as fuel and offsets natural gas use at the plant. The remaining wastewater is then treated in an on-site biological treatment facility, before being released to the newly constructed wetlands for further polishing prior to its return to the Guadalupe River.

The wetlands construction concept originated within the local Community Advisory Panel (CAP) in 1994. (CAPs are recommended and some type of formal community interaction process is required for all member facilities as part of the American Chemistry Council ’s Responsible Care® initiative.) Leading experts and consultants researched and developed the design for the wetland. Broad community input was sought and received through public meetings, addressing factors such as water quality, safety, aesthetic value, wildlife, and academic and community use of the habitat. Plans were also developed for a “Wetlab Education Center” at the wetlands, with nature trails and boardwalks, to conduct scientific and environmental education programs for the community.

Since the wetlands water recovery and treatment facility began operation in 1998, a variety of ecological and community benefits have emerged, including:

  • The wetlands now host a variety of flora and fauna including hundreds of bird species
  • More than 2.4 million gallons of recovered water are returned to the Guadalupe River each day
  • Thousands of students have toured the constructed wetlands and participated in programs at the Wetlab Education Center

By building the wetlands treatment facility, DuPont found not only that the project provided needed functionality at competitive cost and reduced risk, but also that it created benefits for community education and habitat creation.

Module 2