Thursday, January 24, 2008
A Satisfactory Job
I was invited to a very large (in Israeli terms) cookie factory. They were having problems with their wastewater, which had exceptionally large concentrations of organic lipids, COD, BOD, suspended matter. Years were impotent to solve the problem. They had built an enormous FOG interceptor, formed by 3 separate chambers of 12 cu.m. each, and they pumped off them every two months. No doing. The samples were ugly and the factory was (is in fact) in danger of being closed down by the environmental authorities.
I submitted a proposal of 700 dollars plus tax, payable AFTER solving the problem. It was accepted ipso facto. I promised to check the problem this week, but it was rainy and cold. Today it was a sunny morning and I was in good mood, after solving a mindboggling sprinkler scheme for a restaurant (the place is full of decoration so my designs were rejected for interfering with hanging lamps and mouldings). I started my detective work and soon found myself followed by Arab youngsters who were supposed to be working. I explained what I was doing and they relaxed and went back to smoking and playing backgammon and teasing the flirting girls coming out for a smoke. I had to put on a discardable red head dress and fisherman overall, like in TEVA's research laboratories. Most of the workers are young girls and boys (or is it that I am very old? possibly) and some of them were actually working hand-rolling all kind of butter cookies. Then an old man looking like a handyman (pic) appeared and I asked him if he was familiar with the building, and he said that he himself had built it, being the owner of the outfit. I asked for his help, and he said he will help but please dont tell the manager, because he was persona-non-grata in the plant.
In less than an hour of detective work we found out that two chambers of the three chamber interceptor were full of solidified whitish FOG, fatty materials, that have been never pumped out. How it can be so if they pump it off every two month with two vacuum tankers? Obviously they had been cheated all the time, the pumpers vacuumed the first chamber and never even opened the second and third chamber. I went to the manager, he called the girl in charge of the environmental aspects and she brought the accounts and it was a mess. The pumpers have submitted bills for 36 and more cubic meters and attached a receipt from LIPODAN (the sewage fat processor monopoly) for 40 or more cubic meters, and then the girl had paid them two tankers that had been weighted. But she was a young girl just back from her Indian post-Army tour, her nickname is Shanty, no match for the sewage gangsters. I asked to supervise the next pumping and pressure washing of the whole system. If the subsequent sample is OK, I have earned my 700 dollars ! Hahaha !
Re-reading the above I notice that the solution of the problem seems so simple and obvious. But that's the way misteries are, after solving them they seem so simple and straighforward. But before they seem unsolvable.