Typical substances utilized in photo processing include fixer, bleach fixer, developers, stabilizers, and rinse water. Due to the chemical constituents in these substances (used and unused), discharge of these substances to the sewer is typically prohibited. For example, used fixer typically contains levels of silver which exceed the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's (WSSC) limitation of 2 parts per million (ppm). As a result, discharge of used fixer to the sewer is a violation of WSSC regulations. In these cases, treatment and recovery equipment can be installed and operated to extract silver from the used fixer to allowable levels below 1.2 ppm.
This fact sheet provides University of Maryland personnel engaged in photo processing operations (including X-ray) with wastewater discharge best management practices (BMPs). The BMPs are designed to promote pollution prevention and ensure effective treatment and management of photo processing wastes prior to discharge. As a discharger of wastewater associated with photo processing operations, adhering to these BMPs will help to ensure your operation is managed in an environmentally safe and responsible manner and promotes compliance with applicable WSSC regulations. (1)
University of Maryland Hazardous and Regulated Waste Procedures Manual.
The Plumbing and Gas Fitting Regulation - WSSC
The following provides a summary of best management practices associated with photo processing operations.
The silver recovery equipment must be operated and maintained in accordance with manufacturer's specifications. The facility should maintain the manufacturer's specifications for its silver recovery equipment with the equipment. In addition, it is recommended that the facility maintain a silver recovery management log which records all maintenance and silver recovery activity. The Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (ESSR) is available for assistance with these recommendations.
Employee Training: It is recommended that individuals involved in photo processing operations be trained in the operation and maintenance of silver recovery equipment, spill procedures and with applicable WSSC requirements. Contact ESSR for training assistance. Maintaining a training record/log, which records personnel that have been trained, is a recommended practice.
All areas that discharge to the WSSC sewer system are subject to certain notification requirements. It is recommended that these notifications be made by ESSR.
Weekly Inspections: Weekly visual inspections of silver recovery equipment will help to ensure that the equipment is operating properly and that operational problems will be addressed in an expedited manner.
Preventive Maintenance: The silver recovery system should be maintained and serviced in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations. See your service vendor for details.
It is recommended that facilities conducting photo processing operations maintain the following records:
A written program is not required. See Recordkeeping section.
(1)WSSC regulates all wastewater discharges in the WSSC Sewerage District. The University of Maryland is located within the WSSC Sewerage District and is subject to WSSC regulations for the use of the sanitary sewer system.