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The use of Geotextile Tube Technology to Contain and Dewater Sewage Sludge from a Separator Unit at Ecopetrol’s Refinery in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, S.A.

The separator units at the refinery, in addition to receiving storm water, waste from the industrial area also converges as “fresh” catalysts of the cracking unit, which, according to reports from the refinery operation, presents problems in the loading process of the hoppers, as well as sludge of the water treatment plants, by dragging or disposing of the process units to the stormwater systems.
The objective of the project was to remove the sludge that had accumulated in the separator unit in the least possible time, allowing the cleaning operation to recycle and reused all water resulting from the dewatering process within the process and to safely remove the dewatered solids upon completion of the project. To accomplish these goals, Geotextile Tubes were selected as the main dewatering system. Over 30.000m3 of sludge were pumped into 6 Geotextile Tubes using a hydraulic sludge pump, ranging from 27m to 36 in circumference and 30m long. Combined, a little over 6.800m3 of dewatered solids were hauled by truck, which means a volume reduction of 78% was achieved.
Geotextile Tubes proved their convenience and excellent performance in dewatering sludge with traces of crude oil and grease and have become the number one option for cleaning, solids removal, dewatering no matter what the conditions are, rain or shine.