GALCO Environmental Specialists in Pasadena, Texas, recently hosted an open house with barbecue lunch and live music to introduce its new tank trailer and railcar cleaning facility in the heart of the city's petrochemical industry complex. The tank wash is within the 10,000-acre Bayport Industrial District — one of the country's largest privately-developed industrial parks and a major component of Greater Houston's petrochemical industry.
The 47-acre complex has plenty of room for future growth. The facility currently includes eight wash stations that are open 24 hours, seven days a week, a certified truck scale, full service laboratory, 4,250 feet of rail, a million gallons of tank storage, and two reactors that will be converted to produce various products including biodiesel. Administrative offices, conference, and training rooms are housed in a building at the company entrance.
On a separate tract of land across the road from the tank wash is space for parking tractors and trailers. Showers and a check-in room with a lounge are available for drivers who can watch television, take a nap, or eat a snack. This additional 18 acres also includes a 190,000-sq-ft warehouse with several large-capacity cranes that GalCo will use for repair and storage of railcars.
Near the Houston ship channel, GalCo is less than three miles from the Houston Port Authority's Bayport Container Terminal. As part of on-going operations, the region's petrochemical, refining, and manufacturing industries produce large volumes of wastewater. Many of the larger generators have on-site wastewater treatment capabilities. They either discharge water after treatment or send treated water to an on-site disposal facility. Other smaller generators within the region lack on-site management capabilities and must send their wastewater to commercial treatment and disposal facilities. These processed wastewaters constitute GalCo's baseline wastewater business.
“A recently conducted proprietary market study has identified wastewater streams totaling more than 110 million gallons per year currently being sent offsite for management by generators within the Houston region,” says Kenneth N Bigham Sr, GalCo chief executive officer. “Our company offers 24/7 service to customers with state-of-the-art process water management and disposal. Services include cleaning and storage of tank trailers, railcars, ISO containers, roll-off containers, vacuum boxes, and totes. We also have comprehensive on-site laboratory analysis”
Because GalCo has a prime location within the Bayport Industrial District surrounded by the chemical industry of Pasadena and just a few miles from some of the largest container facilities, Bigham says he hopes to capture a huge portion of the tank wash market.
Bigham predicts the demand for railcar cleaning will increase significantly. Because of changes in regulations, railcars must be inspected every five, rather than 10, years. For many companies, that means they are facing a new deadline in about 2½ years.
Bigham has nearly 20 years of experience in the waste management industry. He has owned and operated companies that handle site remediation and the treatment, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous, toxic, and radioactive materials. He characterizes his career in the waste management industry by strong stakeholder support and excellent relations with local, state, and federal regulators.
Tracy Hollister, vice-president and plant manager, has been a consultant to numerous waste management and transportation companies providing marketing and technical services. He has more than 26 years of environmental and management experience, most of which is in the waste disposal industry.
Hollister says the four-bay tank wash with eight cleaning stations is designed to handle the majority of chemical cleaning needs for transportation fleets. The wash rack was designed and built by GalCo personnel. Maximum throughput is about 100 tank trailers per day.
The wash rack is equipped with eight spinners from GamaJet Cleaning Systems. The GamaJet IV GT spinners offer a wide operating range of flow rates, nozzle rotation speeds, and wash cycles. Operating pressure for the standard model ranges from 20 to 500 psi and more than 700 psi for the high pressure model. GalCo runs the spinners up to 200 psi. Each of the four bays is equipped with two spinners so that wash personnel can clean two tank trailers in each bay simultaneously.
Galco offers hot and cold rinse, detergent, caustic, presolve, stripper wash, hoses and pump cleaning, external trailer and tractor wash, and van and dry bulk washout. Steam is produced by 150-hp and 200-hp boilers manufactured by Cleaver Brooks that were included in the purchase of the property. Cleaning vats used in the wash operation include diesel, detergent, caustic, and chemical.
Wash rack facilities include a laboratory, where wastewater is analyzed by technicians before tank cleaning personnel are allowed to begin internal cleaning of tank vessels. The mandatory analysis is part of GalCo's cleaning process to monitor all waste streams before they leave the property.
Boatman Industries, a company specializing in high-pressure water-cleaning for more than 20 years, has partnered with GalCo to provide state-of-the art railcar washing facilities. The automated interior railcar and tank trailer hydro blasting equipment can operate up to 55,000 psi. GalCo projects a capacity of 18 to 20 railcars per day.
Boatman also has a pressurized video inspection system that can photograph the inside of the tank vessel before and after the cleaning. The AVT Pressurized Vessel Video Inspection System can be used with railcars, tank trailers, and ISO tank containers. Wash personnel can view the interior of the vessel while maintaining the atmospheric pressure inside the vessel. The company says the system improves overall safety by eliminating the potential for chemical exposure, reduces the cycle time for inspections by 85%, lowers operating cost, and provides a high-quality, permanent video record for each inspection.
Economic disposal of wastewater after processing is an integral part of GalCo's successful operation, Hollister says. Discharge of wastewater is by direct pipeline to the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority, a privately owned treatment works that serves the Bayport Industrial District.
Wastewater is processed through an electrostatic precipitator — a sophisticated oil and water separation unit. This technology provides GalCo with a substantial competitive advantage in operational capability and efficiency. Carbon absorption and biotreatment systems also are used to provide economic treatment and disposal of organically contaminated streams.
As much as one million gallons of wastewater can be stored in tanks on site prior to discharge. Solids are stored in drums for offsite disposal.
GalCo purchased the 47-acre tract in November from Velsicol, a manufacturer of plastics. The company will convert one of the remaining reactors to produce biodiesel, an ester of fatty acids produced from renewable resources such as vegetable oil, animal fats, and used cooking oil. B100 can be used as the sole fuel source in compression ignition (diesel) engines as a replacement for petroleum-based diesel. It also is marketed as a fuel additive for traditional diesel fuel for its lubricity properties. Biodiesel also is blended at levels of 2-20% (B2-B20). The reactor has the capacity to process about 50,000 gallons per day. Product can be transported by truck or rail.
GalCo is working to meet the Environmental Protection Agency's standards for diesel fuel by 2006 when the EPA will require a significant reduction in sulfur content in diesel engines. The ultra low sulfur diesel-requirement will be phased in between June 2006 (80% of fuel sold) and 2010 (100%). Off-road equipment has five years until it must comply with the ULSD requirement.
Production of biodiesel in the United States during 2003 was more than 25 million gallons, according to the National Biodiesel Board. Some industry analysts say that US demand could reach 100 million gallons in the next three years.