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Continuing use of a biological sewage system after a failure of the air

supply, could result in propagation of anaerobic bacteria and processes.

The gases produced by anaerobic activity are dangerous, being flammable
and toxic. Extended aeration plants used at sea are package plants
consisting basically of three inter-connected tanks (Figure below).

The effluent may be comminuted (i.e. passed through a device which

consists of a rotating knife-edge drum which acts both as a filter and a
cutter) or simply passed through a bar screen from where it passes into
the first chamber. Air is supplied to this chamber via a diffuser which
breaks the air up into fine bubbles. The air is forced through the diffuser
by a compressor. After a while a biological sludge is formed and this is
dispersed throughout the tank by the agitation caused by the rising air
bubbles. The liquid from the aeration tank passes to a settling tank where
under quiescent conditions, the activated sludge, as it is known, settles
and leaves a clear effluent.

The activated sludge cannot be allowed to remain in the settling tank

since there is no oxygen supplied to this area and in a very short time the
collected sludge would become anaerobic and give off offensive odours.
The sludge is therefore continuously recycled to the aeration tank where it
mixes with the incoming waste to assist in the treatment process. Over a
period of time the quantity of sludge in an aeration tank increases due to
the collection of inert residues resulting from the digestion process, this
build up in sludge is measured in ppm or mg/litre, the rate of increase
being a function of the tank size. Most marine biological waste treatment
plants are designed to be desludged at intervals of about three months.

The desludging operation entails pumping out about three quarters of the
aeration tank contents and refilling with clean water. The clear effluent
discharged from a settling tank must be disinfected to reduce the number
of coliforms to an acceptable level. Disinfection is achieved by treating the
clean effluent with a solution of calcium or sodium hypochlorite, this is
usually carried out in a tank or compartment on the end of the sewage
treatment unit.

The chlorinator shown in Figure below uses tablets of calcium hypochlorite

retained in perforated plastic tubes around which the clean effluent flows
dissolving some of the tablet material as it does so. The treated effluent is
then held in the collection tank for 60 minutes to enable the process of
disinfection to be completed. In some plants the disinfection is carried out
by ultra-violet radiation.