2008-11-25 - It is now many months since the worst flooding in living memory hit much of South Yorkshire and claimed, among its many victims, Yorkshire Water’s Blackburn Meadows sewage treatment plant on the outskirts of Sheffield.
This is the story of how Yorkshire Water and ABB, worked together to get the devastated plant operational again in record time.
It began with severe weather warnings issued by the Met Office and then flood warnings from the Environment Agency. South Yorkshire braced itself and waited for the deluge.
When it did come the ferocity and scale of the flooding took everyone by surprise. The swollen River Don broke its banks and within just a few hours the Blackburn Meadows sewage treatment plant was under several feet of water, knocking out all electrical power and bringing the plant to a complete stop.
The forced shutdown of the plant posed a big operational for Yorkshire Water because Blackburn Meadows dealt with all sewage treatment for the city of Sheffield.
The true extent of the damage to equipment on the site was impossible to calculate exactly because of the loss of all power and utilities but a visual inspection revealed that the crucial ACF-NT emissions analysing system supplied by ABB and used to analyse emissions from the incinerator stack, was a complete loss.
It was a major blow. Even if every other piece of equipment was replaced or repaired the plant could not operate without the ACF-NT analyser.
When power and utilities to the site were restored – more than a week after the floods hit Blackburn Meadows – an emergency meeting took place between an ABB team and Yorkshire Water managers.
It very quickly became obvious that the normal 16-week wait for a replacement analyser was not an option for Yorkshire Water – Blackburn Meadows simply had to be back on line as quickly as possible – there had to be another way.
And there was. The ABB team, led by customer services co-ordinator, Tony Hinks, came up with a novel but effective solution. Yorkshire Water could hire the ACF-NT analyser that ABB had recently had installed in its training facility in Telford.
Two days later and the ACF-NT unit was shipped from ABB to Blackburn Meadows for installation over the weekend and a further week of detailed calibration.
“We were working against the clock from the moment we had our emergency meeting with Yorkshire Water. The meeting set a target date for re-starting the plant that gave us just 12 days to ship, install, commission and calibrate the analyser,” said Tony Hinks.
Remarkably, the ABB team completed the task in just nine days and Blackburn Meadows went back ‘online.’
Yorkshire Water process engineer, Mark Hinchcliffe, said: “ABB pulled out all the stops and did a wonderful job for us in the toughest of circumstances.
“The plant had been under several feet of water and without any utilities for more than a week but we were up and running again within 18 days of the flooding.”
For ABB customer service Supervisor, Tony Hinks, the Blackburn Meadows episode was one of the toughest challenges he and his colleagues had ever faced and compelling proof of ABB’s genuine commitment to customer service.
“The flooding at Blackburn Meadows was a rare and exceptional event that posed all kinds of unusual problems but once we had agreed a way forward everyone focussed on getting the plant running again. It was a team effort,” Tony Hinks said.