Since 1984, when the first activated sludge treatment plant (ASTP) was built to treat pulp and paper industry wastewaters in Finland, twenty more plants have been introduced by 1989. An evaluation was undertaken to find out the actual performance of the ASTPs in BOD7, CODc r and phosphorus removal. The evaluation included all the 12 ASTPs in operation in the pulp and paper industry at the beginning of 1987. The highest average BOD7 removals were about 90 % at pulp mills as well as paper and board mills. CODc r removal was generally higher at paper and board mills (about 40-70 %) than at pulp mills (about 25-55 %). Phosphorus was added to wastewater in most plants. In some ASTPs, phosphorus concentrations were lowered by 20-40 % compared with wastewater from the mill. In some plants phosphorus load on the recipient was higher than the load coming from the mill. In treated wastewater, correlations between suspended solids and BOD7, CODc r, phosphorus and nitrogen were significant in most plants. This indicated that low removal efficiencies resulted from poor suspended solids removal in the secondary clarification. Volumetric and sludge CODc r loading rates could not explain removal efficiencies when all plants were included in the comparison. In plants treating chemical pulping effluents, higher removal efficiencies were normally achieved with lower loading rates. When the plants were studied separately, the influence of loading rate was generally significant.

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