Zero-Discharge: An Environmental Answer for Two Aerospace Manufacturers

Jan. 1, 2006
Compliance with industrial wastewater discharge regulations can be time-consuming and expensive.

Compliance with industrial wastewater discharge regulations can be time-consuming and expensive. Two ITT Industries plants in California have eliminated discharges altogether.

Valencia’s Aerospace Controls and Van Nuys’ Gilfillan, both in California, have created “zero-discharge” on-site treatment systems for industrial wastewater.
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Aerospace Controls in Valencia and Gilfillan in Van Nuys have created “zero-discharge” on-site treatment systems for industrial wastewater - water that may contain oil or metals from plant processes. Aerospace Controls specializes in the manufacture of valves, actuators and switches covering a wide range of commercial and military applications. Gilfillan develops, manufactures and services radar systems for air traffic control and tactical air defense systems.

“We used to discharge to the city sewer system after a complicated procedure of pre-treatment and testing,” according to then Environment, Safety & Health manager at the radar assembly facility, Tom Zielinski. “It was a big, big deal. Last year, we installed an evaporator and now we just evaporate production wastewater after any oils and metals have been separated out.”

The $20,000 cost of the evaporator will be recovered quickly. Before the zero discharge system, Gilfillan spent approximately that much annually on permit fees, pre-discharge testing and sampling. Onsite treatment also eliminates the risk of potential environmental hazards, permit violations and associated fines, while easing the burden on the community’s sewage treatment system.

At Aerospace Controls, water used to clean the plant’s machines is filtered, treated and either recycled for plant processes or placed in two evaporators, which saves $1.30 per gallon in disposal costs - or a total of $253,000 in 1998, the zero discharge system’s first full year of use.

According to then manager of Environment, Safety, Health and Security at Aerospace Controls’ five-year-old Valencia facility, Jon Hillner, it was important that the plant’s design kept the environment in mind: “When I told the architects they couldn’t install plumbing to carry out industrial wastewater, they thought I was crazy.”

What little residue remains from the evaporation process is collected at both facilities and sent to a qualified disposal facility.

“Certainly California environmental laws are tougher than some other states, and cutting costs is a major issue,” said Hillner. “But the main impetus for these systems is the environmental responsibility we feel.”

For more information, contact ITT Fluid Technologies, based in Upper Saddle River, N.J., at 201-760-9800 or visit:

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