Synagro was on Undercover Boss tonight. I was really excited, although my mother was not because I kept interrupting her show with my knowledge in sludge.
The new CEO, Bill Massa, visited Knoxville, TN and worked at the waste water facilities. He was actually posing as someone who worked in the chemical polluting industry and was going to see how the other side (the good side) does things. He told the people he was shadowing that he was part of a reality series. In Knoxville, the manager made him handle sludge with his bare hands. She “forgot” to give him gloves. This woman did an insane job at doing so many things by herself from driving the mac trucks carrying the sludge to making sure the machines were working together.
Next he visited Shawnee, KS at the treatment plant. He was here to clean out the lagoon. He was going to help remove the solids that have collected (look they got me saying solids). The lagoon needs to be cleaned out because it can get nasty, so says the guy Massa is working with. They use the excess sludge as fertilizer for the farmers near by. He had to use what I like to call the sludge sucker machine, which carries about 4,000 gallons of sludge. He killed the motor, insert laughs from Mom. Then the worker drops the big news, GATORS. They start with the Jaws theme (always funny) as he tells Massa that they sometimes find gators in the sludge. They then went on to use bulldozers to move the sludge around. Looks pretty nasty. ”But a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do” -Bill Massa. Wise words. Nothing has been said about the smell, which surprises me. Maybe it doesn’t smell? These people say otherwise. Here’s the kicker though, the workers have to go a mile away to find a bathroom. There are no porta potties. SERIOUSLY? They work with poop yet have no where to go.
Next is Baltimore, MD to visit the Back River Waste Water Plant. Here pellets are developed, they are easier to use and easier to send to other places than your every day sludge. The pellets are small bits of dried sludge, kind of described in the name pellet. Massa starts to go to work to make sure the machines are kept up to code, meaning clean and ready to work. OHH and he picked up a tampon applicator. Massa seems to enjoy going into the nooks and crannies of the machines to find all of these products. Sarcasm people. The woman who Massa is working with uses the pellets and sludge in her own home gardens. And again, another shocker. There is no recycling in these facilities, there are no programs. Massa seemed peeved about this, maybe the end of the show will tell us if he’s changed this.
Sparta, Wisconsin is next on the list with another wastewater treatment plant. Instead of a lagoon, the sludge is kept in a tank. Here Massa starts cleaning a holding tank. He’s never been to a biosolids tank (he’s good with never saying sludge). THERE WE GO, the worker said sludge. Here’s the first time we’ve heard anything about smell, ammonia. Mmmm sticky oatmeal. Big Bertha is a pressure washer used to break the gunk up. Well I guess this is where the name solids is a reality, they are in 3 feet of water and standing on a foot or so of the solid trying to break it up. One tank takes several weeks to completely break up.
Its amazing that these people are so open about their personal lives, and in the end good things come to them which is why this show is such a success. I just hope that the average person can take some information about sludge from this episode along with their tears.
PS Nothing was said about starting a recycling program