Tuul still polluted as the emergency repair ends

G.Odgarav

2015-06-15 14:47 GMT+8

Tuul is full with mud... It would have been better news if it was true. There would have been no need to inquire about this whole issue.

Although it might sound harsh, but it is true that once the pure and pristine Tuul river is now flowing with the UB city waste.

The photo below depicts how the Tuul river looks like just West of the Songino bridge and the smell is not the best in here as well.

This current situation at the Tuul river might have been the result of the recent developments at the Waste Water Treatment Facility and with that thought we continued on with our inquiry.

We must note here that closer we got to the Facility the pollution and the smell was getting even worse.

TUUL POLLUTION GOT WORSE IN LAST 4 YEARS

Waste water being dumped at Tuul river

This photo shows the Tuul River condition in the distance of 8-9 km from the Waste Water Treatment Facility up to the Songino Bridge. One easily could notice feces rather than the stones. Not much observation needed to spot slime along the river bank.

The slime visibly can reach half meters in depth.

Also this photo clearly depicts how the waste water merges into river water, so that it seems unnecessary to say more.

According to the nearby residents 8 years ago Tuul river at this location was pristine and one could even see the fish.

More precisely saying, the waste water coming from the facility was more clean back then.

But the situation has changes in last 8 years and four years ago the matter worsened.

According to resident N. who leaves nearby the old ministerial sanatorium 10 years ago there were quite few species of the fish in the Tuul river and they would consume them for their food, as of today the resident hesitated if there is any living thing could survive in those waters.

Recently specialists from the professional laboratory came to test the waters of Tuul river and it was obvious that the depth of the slime could easily reach the knees.

Slime at the banks of Tuul

Due to personal concerns the resident N wanted to stay undisclosed and refused to get photographed.

WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF THE DEEP POLLUTION OF TUUL FROM THE WASTE WATER FACILITY TO SONGINO RIVER?

Last Saturday the emergency repair works at the City Waste Water Treatment Facility has started and lasted for two days. Emergency occured at the concrete walls of the half-century old waste water treatment facility, which lacks capacity to process increased load of waste water.

Many suspect the Tuul river pollution with the old waste water treatment faciility. Our photos also reveal the connection of the waste flow into the Tuul river, causing excessive water and soil pollution.

We met with Senior Engineer Ts.Bold at the Waste Water Treatment Facility.

WASTE WATER FROM FACTORIES IS PURIFIED UP TO 72-74 PERCENT

-Repair works took place during the weekend. Is there a guarantee that this repair will solve the problems?
-There is no guarantee at all. This repair is just an emergency action to stop the big catastrophe. We are to do only small repairs to fill the holes and damages.

-How much of the waste water is treated?
-This facility was commenced to treat only the waste water coming from the residential area of the Ulaanbaatar city. Until 1990 the facility was working using the technology to treat residential waste. During the socialist era the Leather Processing Manufacture was operating and at that facility industrial waste water was processed and then supplied to our facility for further treatment. With the start of the 90s and bankrupcy of the entity, leather processing manufactures spread all over the city during 1994-1996. Due to this our facility had to treat the industrial waste water as well beyond its capacities. If previously the facility would treat the residential waste up to 90-95 percent, currently the industrial waste is only treated 72-74 percent.

-How many years the facility is operating?
-The facility was built in 1964 and underwent the enhancements in 1976 and 1986. City planning at that time provisioned the expansion of the population to be only at 400-500 thousand and the facility was built according to those estimates. But with the current development and expansion of the city waste water amount increased drastically and there is real need to expand the facility capacity as well. But due to lack of the budget no works on expanding the facility has been done yet. Therefore currently we have to do emergency repairs. 

THERE IS NO OTHER COUNTRY THAT ALLOWS THIS HAPPEN

-Does it mean there is need to build another facility?
-According to conclusion of the authorities it is efficient to build new facility rather than to do major repairs at the old one, which has been serving non-stop since 1964 and having major damaged to all its parts.

-Smell of the facility can be felt just few meters from the city boundaries. Can this issue be solved with the new facility?
-Our current facility is not advanced at all. The smell is directly linked with this situation. In the western countries they use advanced technologies to treat the slime. There is no other country that allows this happen other than Mongolia. Therefore, there is need to build facility that purifies the waste water and also uses the slime to produce gas and electricity. Until that becomes a reality we have to do emergency repairs.

-When the city is to have new facility?
-As I understand the authorities are doing bids on feasibility study and the project papers. Probably by this time the bids are being concluded. After the feasibility studies done the execution bids will start. To my understanding the execution bid will be conducted by the end of this year.

-How much estimates are being done on costs of the new facility?
-MNT 900 biliion is required to build new facility with advanced technologies.

70-80 PERCENT OF THE CURRENT POLLUTION IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR UNTREATED WASTE WATER DUMPING DURING 90s AND 20-30 PERCENT IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR FACILITY

-In the 8-9 km distance from the facility to Songino bridge the pollution and slime along the banks of Tuul river is at alarming rate. If the facility dumps 72-74 percent treated water what might be the cause?
-According to the older generation of our specialists during 1990-1991 power outages were very frequent and during those outages facility is incapable to operate and treat the waste water and if the water is not restricted facility just shuted down and dumped the untreated waste water into the river. It has happened so many times that now it has resulted in the deep slime along the banks around Songino area. 

-How much of the current pollution is related with the dumping of untreated waste water?
-70-80 percent is related with untreated waste water dumping during 90s and 20-30 percent is related with our facility operations.It is due to the treatment capacities, if the waste water received is highly polluted the treatment capacity decreases, if the waste water is somehow low in pollution our facility can perform 80 percent treatment. 

-As the pollution level at Tuul river is visible to everyone, public might have doubts whether Waste Water Treatment Facility is operating at all?
-I can assure that our facility treats waste water as we have constant monitoring from the Special Inspection Authority and Environment Department.

-How much percent does industrial waste take?
-Compared with residential waste it accounts for only 30 thousand cubic meters out of total 150 thousand cubic meters received daily. Although the size is not huge, the pollutant contamination is very high. Therefore it is crucial to start the construction of the new facilities.

New facility cost is at MNT 900 billion and it requires 4-5 years for the construction.

Last weekend repair was done with MNT 40 million just as an emergency repair, during which the facility only did 50 percent treatment.

It is still unknown what damages may occur at the facility and how much more money will be needed for the repairs.

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