Beef Processing Wastewater Treatment and Odor Control

Microbes Manhandle Harris Water Odor

New treatment process has beef plant smelling a whole lot better.

Steak_03_bg_040306Harris Ranch Beef, a major meat processing operator in the South Valley, has found a new way to treat its waste water — to the delight of neighbors and plant workers.

“The ponds at Harris Beef created quite an odor problem,” said Stan Barros, a neighbor who farms 100 acres of com and grapes next to the meat-processing plant southwest of Selma. “In recent months, however, the odors are gone.”

The marked difference in odor around the plant was caused by billions of tiny microbes breaking down the odor-causing fats and oils in the company’s waste lagoons.

John Birge. an official with Harris. said waste-water runoff from the facility is pumped into three large lagoons. each one approximately 200 feet wide by 600 feet long.

“At one time we had a big buildup of solids and grease. which caused a real bad odor.” Birge said. “We had to go in with a bulldozer, break the levee and clean the lagoons out. That major cleanup cost thousands of dollars.”

In November I992, Birge contracted with BioWorld Products. a Visalia-based firm that treats the ponds once a week, and he credits the odor solution to these treatments.

Dale Barnes. spokesperson of BioWorld Products, said treatment puts aggressive strains of microbes and special nutrients, vitamins and minerals in the ponds.

“These tiny microbes digest the waste materials and change the conditions in the lagoons from anaerobic to aerobic.” he said. “And the addition of a special odor neutralizing compound keeps offensive odors under control.”

Barros, who occasionally uses the excess waste water from Harris to irrigate his crops, agrees that odors — once a problem — are now controlled.

“It has been wonderful since Harris solved that probiem.“ he said.
Barnes said treatment also accelerates the breakdown of sanitizers and disinfectants used in the meat processing plant and this makes the water safer for discharge onto farmland.

Danny Locra, warehouse supervisor at Harris Beef, walked out by the ponds one day last week and noticed that the smell gone.

“Something else I noticed was that there was a lot of bubbling action in the ponds now.” he said. “Before, the ponds were dead. It’s 200 percent better now because the solids are thinning out considerably.

“Eventually, I expect to be able to see the bottom of the ponds again.”

An unexpected benefit of the treatments is the elimination of mosquito problems, according to vector control officials.

“These lagoons are no longer a breeding place for mosquitoes.” said Roy Woods, an inspector for the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District.

“Earlier this year. I found two or three larvae in the lagoons. but none since.” he said. “I check the ponds every 10 to 15 days and have not had to treat any of them yet.”

Charlie Smith. entomologist at Consolidated in Selma, said the routine treatment method in his district would be larvacidc oils.

In past years. Smith said the ponds had to be treated regularly because of the extremely heavy mosquito larvae populations.

Source: The Fresno Bee newspaper, February 24. 1994

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