Sahara: Waste & Water Management
A case study offering effective solutions for harsh and remote environments.
Consultant: Andy Ive
When gas was discovered in the mid Sahara areas of North Africa in the 1990s Andy Ive was asked by BP to help set up the water and waste infrastructure for what amounted to four small towns 600 km into the desert. No local infrastructure at all existed for the waste and water to be produced by 2-3000 workers. IVE overcame sandstorms, extreme heat, poisonous snakes and patented a novel solution to achieve zero waste miles from anywhere.
As treatment plants were built to transport gas to European markets via pipelines in this remote and harsh environment, IVE took up the challenge to handle the 4kg of waste per day generated per person.
Amidst regular sandstorms, temperatures up to 55 oC and the ever present threat of finding venomous horned vipers or camel spiders in the waste, it was imperative to find a method for dealing with the waste quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.
Although the local workers employed at the site were quite happy to just bury waste in a big hole, IVE was set a target of a more environmentally sound ISO14001 Certification, to be achieved for the construction phase of the site.
Andy Ive quickly conceived the idea and developed a own unique design for a stand alone Waste Management Centre to be operated at the site.
The plans evolved to create the mobile Materials Recycling Facility (MRF). Specially adapted for the purpose, these are 20 ft long containers with side-opening doors housing waste processing equipment for dealing with the waste at its very source.
Within the MRF a 4 bin baling machine, bulb crusher, glass/can crusher and an aerosol piercer combine to provide a one-stop solution, with a tyre shredder also available in a separate building or container. A generator in a second container supplies the power to operate the equipment.
Once the containers were positioned on the Saharan site, complete waste handling of all materials became possible from day one with the generator also supplying power to an on-site containerised incinerator.
Immensely successful, these MRF units helped to achieve zero waste at one site with only on-site incinerator ash going on to be used as landfill with no harmful effect on the environment or risk to employees.
In the dry heat of the desert with no natural water supply or existing infrastructure, effective water and sewage management was critical to the survival of the 500 workers and a key part of IVE’s task.
Andy Ive installed an HBNR system to handle the demand, which was set up and used for several years requiring minimal maintenance.
The entire system arrived in just four containers, and took only one month to build.
Whilst working on the project, Andy was also instrumental in setting up and running:
- Soil bioremediation trials
- Oil spill response plans
- Halocarbon and emission inventories and sampling regimes
- Purchasing policies onsite
- Training programmes
- Equipment repair
- Establishing ‘green team’ campaigns and environmental awareness sessions
- Inspections and audits
- Social Programmes
- Rescue training
- Swimming Pool management
The Technical Team Manager at BP commented “You left a wonderful legacy in the sands of the Sahara at both In Salah and In Amenas. The impact across both operations is clear to see.”
The Saharan project proved that not only is waste and water handling in a remote area possible, it is also practical and worthwhile. The concept of a mobile MRF works not just for remote locations like this one, but wherever waste is produced.
A financial study by bio-regional engineer Nicole Lazarus for EU areas, estimated that for a village or organisation of 10,000 people handling their own waste with a mobile MRF, a saving of £1 million a year is possible from reduced transport costs, sale of recyclates, and avoidance of landfill tax.