Refinery and Petrochemical Industry


Biological Products:



Bioaugmentation products for Wastewater applications in Papermills, Refineries, Chemical, Tanneries, Municipalities, Textiles, Steel, Agriculture, Animal feedlot,  Gun Powder plant, Food and Beverage- Dairy Products, Orange Juice factory, Wineries, Cookie factory, Vegetable processing plant, Meat packing, Barbecue Restaurant, Aquaculture, Ornamental Ponds for algae control, CAFO, Nursing homes, Military, Campgrounds, Universities, Regulatory agencies



Lab Services:



Filamentous Identification Lab Service. One reason to identify filaments is to determine the filaments characteristics and then determine the type present.  If the type is found out, a root cause can usually be associated with a particular filament.  If the cause is known, then a correction can be made to alleviate problems. Chlorination is only a quick fix.  Without process changes, filaments will grow back after chlorination.

Wastewater Biomass Analyses and Cooling Tower Analyses also available


Training Materials:



Training is an integral part of any job. Not everyone is at the same level of training. Many people want beginning concepts and basics. Some need technical information or troubleshooting. Some want equipment, technology or process information.

We have developed a full set of Basic training, Advanced training, Filamentous Identification the Easy Way as well as custom training CD's Manuals. We also provide hands-on training classes and soon will have an Online "E-University".


Audits and Consulting:


At Environmental Leverage® Inc., we have a team of experienced individuals who come into your plant with a fresh pair of eyes.  The system is checked from influent to effluent.  System optimization, equipment efficiency and operational excellence are key components explored. Key Benefits Equipment efficiency Total Cost of Operation reductions Reliability and safety

An onsite audit is conducted to examine system parameters, process controls, and current monitor and control procedures. A physical walk-through is conducted, process flow diagrams are examined, previous design criteria are examined and current standard operating procedures are evaluated along with data logs.




Refinery and Petrochemical Industry

What's New!

We have just added "Virtual Audits" to our capabilities. Check out our new Services.  We are in the process of developing new courses for our ""Online E-University" in order to meet the needs of our global customers that cannot travel to our public classes.Visit our new website


refineries wastewaterRefineries and Petrochemical plants come in all different types of sizes and have many different characteristics.  They can be very old processing facilities, or have the latest, state of the art technology on the process side as well as the wastewater side. Some pre-treat and discharge to a local POTW and some have final effluent permits.   Delivering the final product is what it all comes down to! Many times Refineries have very similar problems to other treatment plants when it comes to wastewater treatment.


Typical Refineries have a ton of spent caustic.  Many times they haul this off as hazardous waste.  Sometimes this can be used for pH adjustment by other companies in their waste treatment plant.  Many times if nitrification is not a problem, this can be bled into their own waste activated sludge plant at low levels with significant reductions in cost. 






REfineries nitrification bioaugmentaionRefineries many times do not collect all the oils off the process side. Improvements to your DAF or API can collect this clean oil and return it to the front end of the system thereby increasing your barrel productivity. Waste oily sludge many times is hauled off as hazardous waste. With the right process, this can be re-used sometimes in the coker.
Optimization upstream is always best, but still, optimizing your API and DAF can improve capture of oil and oily sludge that can be re-processed or reused. It also takes a tremendous loading off your activated sludge or biological system. Lately, there are Green Grants to help upgrade equipment and numerous companies taking spent oil and sludge for alternative fuel processing if you cannot do this at your own plant.







Beneficial Reuse- What are some of the options available for hydrocarbon waste that might be used as a fuel source?
Boiler and Cooling Tower Blowdown
Lab Testing and Troubleshooting Newsletter refinery wastewater

Oil and Grease- What is it and how to get rid of it

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Refinery and Petrochemical Case Histories

EPA Office of Compliance Sector Notebook Project, Profile of the Refinery and
Petrochemical Industry. More information can be obtained on the EPA website or by contacting Environmental Leverage


There are tons of files containing information on every subject from A to Z on the internet with standards, benchmarks and industry BMP's.  The problems is, who has time to dig and find it all. It is not always in easy to find places.  We have tried to show you some of the ones we though might be useful. There are links to the places where we found some of them in case you want to dig deeper on a particular subject and find out more.


REfinery wastewater bioaugmentation

Many refineries have tanks for storage onsite or for spills. Tank remediation is actually very easy to do at refineries. Many refineries spent millions hauling off tanks that have been used to capture spills, when in fact they could perform on-site remediation and either totally clean the liquids up or pre-treat them and slowly bleed them into their existing wastewater treatment plant.  Petroleum refining is also the most energy-intensive manufacturing industry in the United States.


Oil removal in critical and scum build up can cause issues at the plant.

Scum build-up in weirs of clarifier causing uneven flow and TSS carryover.  Did you know that algae in a sample can give a false BOD reading?

Many refineries have API's or DAF's prior to the secondary treatment system with Activated Sludge or aeration basins.

The more oil and scum solids that can be removed prior to the Aeration Basin, the easier the loading on the biomass in the Aeration basin.




Solids build-up can cause gassing and ashing on DAF's or API's also that leads to poor removal rates of solids and organics. Bacteria still grow in bothoil refinery pieces of equipment. They are not sterile environments. Lack of oxygen at the bottoms where solids build up can cause oil to burp out of the solids and wind up in the effluent that make its way down to the aeration basin.   Take care to measure and control solids build-up in the API and DAF.  Here is a broken diffuser in an aeration basin. Oxygen levels are critical to measure in refineries that have to nitrify.  Alkalinity is also a critical thing to measure and add if not in sufficient quantities.  

diffuser  broken diffuser

Sometimes refineries have lagoons or final polishing ponds.

floating solids  refinery wastewater lagoon

Here is a picture of floating solids and scum on an aeration basin. Understanding the biomass, what goes on, how to control it are critical in a refinery when there are constantly changes in the chemistry that comes in with the loading. Benzene, toluene and some of the large ringrefinery testing compounds are really just food to the bacteria, but they must have enough time and numbers in order to break down the compounds sufficiently.
What to sample, where to sample, how to control the biomass and the process are critical if final permit levels are to be achieved. Testing, analyses as well as data interpretation can make all the difference in running a wastewater treatment plant successfully.


refinery carbon powdered activated carbon

Black Carbon particles instead of floc  100x         Carbon inclusions inside the floc 400x


refineryWasting out some of the carbon is usually recommended and reseeding with new biomass or commercial seed.

MicroSolv 400 Biological Product for Refining and Petrochemical

api refinery

A common mistake in refineries that we see consistently is the use of Powdered Activated Carbon added to the aeration basins.  For a quick band-aid when a toxic spill, this is used occasionally to help the biomass. The PAC absorbs some of the organics.  The problem with the use of PAC is that continual use takes up space in the Aeration Basins, creates more solids, leaves less room for healthy active biomass. While your solids may seem higher and MLSS higher, in reality, the solids are not bacteria, the health of the biomass deteriorates and BOD removal and nitrification efficiency eventually drop off.


Many plants overlook some of  the impact and do not realize this. They stop wasting, build up more solids in the clarifier, increase ashing,  increase lack of oxygen in the system and start the biomass and efficiency into a downward spiral.

Refineries have  numerous wastewater issues in their plants.
Some plants have too much ammonia or amines in the influent and need to nitrify. Nutrient control at refineries plants can be a serious issue.  Alkalinity is typically a factor often overlooked with nitrification at refineries. In the wastewater plant, not only do you need to control and nitrifiers, but also the carbonaceous bacteria need monitor and control for proper biological activity and final effluent BOD and TSS controls along side of nutrient control.


Why you should do a Total Nitrogen Balance total math balance nitrification
Oh no, my nitrifiers are dead and I am not getting nitrification!
How important are Nutrients


Many refineries and petrochemical plants have large storage tanks that they bleed into their secondary biological system. If  wastewater is held too long in these tanks, it can become septic and impact the efficiency of the secondary biological system. Sometimes, something as simple as adding a small mixer or recirculation pump can help with septicity problems and filamentous bacteria growth.
Temperature can be sometimes be an issue. Influent temperatures over 95° F or 100° F  can impact floc formation in the secondary biological system. While many plants can get BOD degradation up to 115° F or 120° F if consistent, floc formation is small, pin floc persists and the system may require polymer addition in the secondary clarifier or TSS problems will occur.



refineryInfluent chemistries may be composed of hard to degrade organics. Influent wastes may contain aliphatic hydrocarbons, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and volatile aromatic carbon compounds. sometimes the systems need to be enhanced with biological products to efficiently degrade such compounds as benzenes, phenols, hydrocarbons, mercaptans, amines, organic alcohols, many chlorinated and non-chlorinated hydrocarbons, surfactants and other difficult to treat compounds.  Micronutrients or biological products can often times overcome difficulties that petrochemical plants have with changing influents and hard to degrade compounds.  These products can also be used for onsite tank remediation to save thousands of dollars for the company by using bacteria to naturally clean up these tanks.




Boiler and Cooling Tower Blowdowntanks at refineries
Cooling Tower Microscopic analyses

Case History-Tank Remediation at a PetroChemical Plant

petrochemical plant tank remediationWe are working with a PetroChemical plant down in Louisiana. They had an 800,000 gallon tank filled with wastewater that they wanted to clean up and empty out. We suggested a biological program-MicroSolv 400 for tank remediation.
The plant started the program and had the tank cleaned up in less than three weeks, yet the tank had been sitting there filled for over three years. They were tremendously impressed. They would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to haul out the waste.
Tank remediation is not really that hard. As long as the contents are organic, it is actually quite simple. To the bacteria, it is just food. Since the waste stream is already isolated, it becomes just a time and numbers game with the right species of bacteria. Inoculate the tank with bacteria, make sure the critical 5 are in place- (pH, D.O., temperature, N and P) and watch them go to work!


It does not really take long depending upon how much you seed the tank with. And the bacteria grow and multiply exponentially, so just sit back and wait. You wind up with a clean tank, clear effluent, and some bacteria residuals on the bottom of the tank that need to be disposed of- ( usually sent to the plants onsite dewatering system) or land applied.

soil remediationIndustrial zone Alon Tavor Israel

Plant Issues

900 m3 of Contaminated Soil.

Pollution: Crude oil.

Several option where evaluated and E. H. Green/Environmental Leverage bioaugmentation program solution was elected.

Due to the Hydrologic Area which the plant is located in ,the EPA of Israel instructed the plant to move the soil or reduce the TPH ( Total petroleum Hydrocarbons) from 842 to 100 ppm. Initial proposal assumed that it would take a few months due to high heat in the summer, and mainly the amount of soil and contamination to treat. After two weeks, TPH was down to 311, the following week, 133.

Final TPH levels were pulled at 4 locations- 38, 39,81 and 37 were the final TPH readings, ~90-95.6% reduction in TPH ( Total petroleum Hydrocarbons)

80% cost reduction in treating the soil biologically including labor, nutrients, biological products, etc vs. hauling out the dirt as hazardous waste~

Soil Remediation Case History- Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons


Audits and Onsite Training and Consulting

 In order to "Audit" or Troubleshoot a Refinery or PetroChemical wastewater treatment plant, a number of things need to be looked at. A physical walk-through of the plant needs to be conducted with visual observations noted. A microscopic analyses of the Biological portion of the waste treatment system needs to be conducted. Settleometer Testing needs to be conducted A sludge judge should be used on a Clarifier Examination of lab data- current testing procedures and results Walk through and correlation of process side to wastewater treatment plant operations A fully detailed final report is issued with process recommendations, system changes, areas for optimization and increased efficiency.

For a full onsite audit of your plant- Contact Environmental Leverage inc. 630-906-9791



More troubleshooting for Refineries and Petrochemical plants:

Troubleshooting Lagoon Systems


For a full onsite audit of your plant- Contact Environmental Leverage inc. 630-906-9791


Wastewater in the Fall- Problems and Solutions

Summer impacts on your plant

Fall Turnover

Hurricane or Severe Weather Upset recovery program

Wild Weather Extremes that can impact your plant

Beneficial Reuse

Clarification Optimization

Solids Holding

Lagoons-Winter BOD issues and bioaugmentation


Learn how Environmental Leverage can help your plant

Bioaugmentation in Refineries- impact on BOD and TSS

Filamentous bacteria can be a problem is solids are held too long in a clarifier also.

Total System Optimization- Case History

Lab Testing and Troubleshooting Newsletter

More to come .  . . . .


Wastewater Training Options

The greatest equipment and the most efficient, dedicated workers can be ineffective if they are not properly trained. At Environmental Leverage, we have years of experience in many process areas and technical expertise on equipment, systems and operations. Programs to optimize your system or custom training can be tailored to increase the reliability and efficiency of your plant. Look for self taught training materials and training courses below.


Wastewater basics   How to use the microscopeVisual troubleshooting a wastewater lagoonNitrification and denitrification


We have developed a full line of Training CD's and Elearning classes for training and operator CEU's.



Elearning and General Brochure Click for brochure

Online Wastewater Training ELearning -

Since wastewater training is such an integral part of any treatment system, we have been asked to develop an online waste water training program with some of our materials.
It is not always easy to get on a plane or travel attend a wastewater training class. Now you will be able to take waste water training courses at your leisure from your home or office.


Click here and Go straight to our WebSite -

Take a sneak peek inside our training courses with our ELearning Demo Make sure to create an account and log in.


Lab Poster


Lab Poster Higher Life Forms


Environmental Leverage Lab Poster for Wastewater Training. This Microbiology Poster has photos as well as descriptions and troubleshooting recommendations of common micro organisms found in most wastewater treatment plants.


Contact Environmental Leverage for more information about obtaining this poster for your lab or setting up hands on training, consulting and onsite audits.
Email or Call us at 630-906-9791