Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bugs on the Run in the Merrimack River

It was a dark and stormy night on the first Sunday in March when gazillions of bugs (aka micro-organisms) escaped from the confines of the Hooksett, New Hampshire wastewater treatment facility.  Once "out and about", they quickly made their way to the Merrimack River where their hi-tech plastic abodes became rafts in an oxygen sucking flotilla heading to the sea.  Apparently, their escape went undetected until this past weekend when beachcombers on either side of the Merrimack River's outlet in Newburyport began noticing numerous small plastic disks littering the shore.  This account provides the details.

This is really an unfortunate incident and a good example of "sometimes the best intentions go astray", quite literally.  According to an article that appeared in Water & Wastes Digest magazine, the Town of Hookset was trying to upgrade their wastewater treatment plant.  The plant was going to be one of the first in New Hampshire to utilize biological nitrogen removal and the first in the United States to use the Biofilm Chip M in the Integrated Fixed Film Activated Sludge (IFAS) process.  The project was funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and was projected to save the Town of Hooksett 1 million dollars by not having to install larger tanks.

It seems the bugs didn't fare so well from their adventure and have lost most of their bio vitality.  The plastic disks they rode to freedom, however, are estimated to be in the tens of thousands and will be an unsightly nuisnace for some time to come.  Good bet there'll be a lot of very frustrated sea-gulls.

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