This paper deals with the case of one of the most important industrial application of membrane technology in the world: the upgrading of the main industrial wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) of the petrochemical site of Porto Marghera, Northern Italy, completed on December 2005 and tested on September 2006. It describes the principal interventions of the plant upgrading and it discusses the removal obtained during the test periods for conventional pollutants as well as for micropollutants. The plant upgrading consisted of a series of improvements of the existing industrial WWTP, in order to increase the removal efficiency of the total suspended solids and the associate removal of ten micropollutant compounds, the so called forbidden substances. The most important intervention was the conversion of the existing activated sludge section into a membrane biological reactor, in order to guarantee adherence to the severe limits imposed by the special law issued to protect the Venice Lagoon, with particular reference to the mentioned 10 forbidden compounds. The experimental results and the numerous test-runs conducted confirmed the respect of the legal limits for the pollutants in the final effluent as well of the required removal rates for the different parameters. Therefore, the upgraded treatment plant was declared agreeing with the approved design.

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