Bypass separators fully treat all flows generated by rainfall rates of up to 6.5mm/hr. This covers over 99% of all rainfall events. Flows above this rate are allowed to bypass the separator. These separators are used when it is considered an acceptable risk not to provide full treatment for high flows, for example where the risk of a large spillage and heavy rainfall occurring at the same time is small.
Surface water drains normally discharge to a watercourse or indirectly into underground waters (groundwater) via a soakaway. Contamination of surface water by oil, chemicals or suspended solids can cause these discharges to have a serious impact on the receiving water.
The Environment Regulators, Environment Agency, England and Wales, SEPA, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in Scotland and Department of Environment & Heritage in Northern Ireland, have published guidance on surface water disposal, which offers a range of means of dealing with pollution both at source and at the point of discharge from site (so called ‘end of pipe’ treatment). These techniques are known as ‘Sustainable Drainage Systems’ (SuDS).
Where run-off is draining from relatively low risk areas such as car-parks and non-operational areas, a source control approach, such as permeable surfaces or infiltration trenches, may offer a suitable means of treatment, removing the need for a separator.
Oil separators are installed on surface water drainage systems to protect receiving waters from pollution by oil, which may be present due to minor leaks from vehicles and plant, from accidental spillage.
Effluent from industrial processes and vehicle washing should normally be discharged to the foul sewer (subject to the approval of the sewerage undertaker) for further treatment at a municipal treatment works.
Separator Standards and Types
A British (and European) standard (BS EN 858-1 and 858-2) for the design and use of prefabricated oil separators has been adopted. New prefabricated separators should comply with the standard.
The standard refers to two ‘classes’ of separator, based on performance under standard test conditions.
Designed to achieve a concentration of less than 5mg/l of oil under standard test conditions, should be used when the separator is required to remove very small oil droplets.
Designed to achieve a concentration of less than 100mg/l oil under standard test conditions and are suitable for dealing with discharges where a lower quality requirement applies (for example where the effluent passes to foul sewer).
Both classes can be produced as full retention or bypass separators. The oil concentration limits of 5 mg/l and 100 mg/l are only applicable under standard test conditions. It should not be expected that separators will comply with these limits when operating under field conditions.