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  1. #31
    cmacd123's Avatar
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    There are two questions here. What is safe for the septic system and the enviroment, and what is safe and legal under your local rules and regualtions. I am sure the later is why Kodak changed their earlier advice to the current "use a licenced hazardous waste hauler."

    It is proably a violation to put anything from the darkroom down the drain, and if you are a commercial enterprise you proably have to have it picked up on a 30 day Maximum Cycle to stay legal - depending on the place you live.

    Technicaly - ignoring the rules - it is likly the only item from normal waste that will have any effect is the silver. Laundry detergent is Much Nastier stuff, but is not considered a "chemical" in making the rules.
    Charles MacDonald
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    I still live just beyond the fringe in Stittsville

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmacd123 View Post
    There are two questions here. What is safe for the septic system and the enviroment, and what is safe and legal under your local rules and regualtions. I am sure the later is why Kodak changed their earlier advice to the current "use a licenced hazardous waste hauler."

    It is proably a violation to put anything from the darkroom down the drain, and if you are a commercial enterprise you proably have to have it picked up on a 30 day Maximum Cycle to stay legal - depending on the place you live.

    Technicaly - ignoring the rules - it is likly the only item from normal waste that will have any effect is the silver. Laundry detergent is Much Nastier stuff, but is not considered a "chemical" in making the rules.
    Charles:

    Here in the Greater Vancouver area there are no restrictions on what home darkroom "hobbyists" put into the sewer system - the authorities indicate that all common photographic chemicals are acceptable, if they are in the low quantities created by home darkroom users.

    Commercial users are required to use the services of waste disposal companies qualified in that sort of chemistry.

    You have to really hunt for this information, because the extensive lists of items that have rules apply to them totally omit photographic chemicals.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  3. #33
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    Yep. Safe != legal and illegal != unsafe, necessarily.

  4. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmacd123 View Post
    There are two questions here. What is safe for the septic system and the enviroment, and what is safe and legal under your local rules and regualtions. I am sure the later is why Kodak changed their earlier advice to the current "use a licenced hazardous waste hauler."...
    Those are really 3 questions. What is safe for the septic systems (i.e. it won't alter the biological function of the septic tank and drainfield) may not be safe for the environment. As I understand the function of septic systems, only organic compounds are treated. Anything inorganic flows out in the ground untreated or precipitates into the bottom of the tank where it is eventually pumped out.

    So, as it relates to photo chemicals, in the concentrations used, a) do they harm the organisms in the tank or drainfield and b) do they contaminate groundwater. For example, chlorine bleach is very hard on the little buggers in your tank but doesn't have much effect on groundwater. At the risk of oversimplification, silver has a antibacterial effect, so I would be concerned about that - depending on the volume you're putting in and the size of your tank.

    The problem is that you could impair/destroy the biological function and not know it for some time.

    I suspect that Kodak's recommendations are a function of both science and legal/regulatory concerns.
    "Far more critical than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know." - Eric Hoffer

  5. #35
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    There are two reasons I pour the stop bath into the jug that doesn't go into my septic. The first ( and main ) reason is that I read somewhere it helps to "neutralize" the developer that's already in the jug. The second possible reason would be if there is any dissolved film or paper emulsion carried over from the developer into the stop. I'm no chemist, but carryover would be at ratios on the order of "drops to pints" so tiny concentrations.

    For film, I re-use the stop bath for about as long as my batch of fixer lasts. Since I'm saving something from going into the septic anyway, this additional amount is hardly worth mentioning. For prints however, the stop bath is approximately 1/5 of the total volume of liquid I'm saving for disposal elsewhere. I suppose if I was worried about it I could start reusing stop bath in my printing too. Hmmm. Right now my process works and is not much trouble so changes can wait until necessary.

    We have a certain amount of paranoia in my neighborhood about septic systems. If you do any work on your house that touches the foundation or the septic system, it changes the kind of permit you need ( from "remodel/restore" to "improvement" ) which ups the cost and kicks in a whole series of regulations, including possibly being required to install a new above ground septic system. A neighbor down the street got into this higher level and was required to install a new septic, and the cost was $125,000. These regulations don't necessarily take into account how well your existing septic system functions... they are one-size-fits all rules that can lead to huge expenses.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr5chrome View Post
    ..this is just plain NOT responsible! ..even to give any amateur the idea.

    While photo waste is not the worst, you are putting it into the ground water by septic. If there was a reason to stop doing it, it would be now.. or sell your house and move where there is a hook-up to sewer. Sewer systems can handle the photo waste with ease.
    You really jumped to your conclusion! First, during that 40 yr. period, Kodak & other companies thought septic use was acceptable. Second, I never said or implied in any way, that I continue this practice now. Third, my understanding is that sewers can also be affective and that is why it is still advisable to remove silver and other harmful chemicals from the waste water.
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  7. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by NedL View Post
    We have a certain amount of paranoia in my neighborhood about septic systems. If you do any work on your house that touches the foundation or the septic system, it changes the kind of permit you need ( from "remodel/restore" to "improvement" ) which ups the cost and kicks in a whole series of regulations, including possibly being required to install a new above ground septic system. A neighbor down the street got into this higher level and was required to install a new septic, and the cost was $125,000. These regulations don't necessarily take into account how well your existing septic system functions... they are one-size-fits all rules that can lead to huge expenses.
    I don't know where your neighborhood is, but many municipalities have been toughening the standards for septic tanks, both in terms of size and design. Typically, existing systems are "grandfathered" in unless there is a major upgrade to the home. I suspect that is what's behind the "remodel/restore" vs. "improvement" distinction.

    Where I am, tank and drainfield size and design is somewhat dependent on the size of the home and the drainfield soil - so not so much one size fits all. As I recall, number of bedrooms determines size of septic tank (though minimum sizes have been going up) and the soil (as measured by a "perc" test) determines the size and location of drainfield.

    Mound type systems are ugly, but do allow you to control the drainfield soil. I'm lucky in that we have sandy soil, which makes for an efficient drainfield.

    Paranoia? Perhaps, but not if you find your well water contaminated.

    As to $125k, I find that hard to believe, even if there was a drainfield soil issue that had to be addressed and even if a pump was required (as it usually is with a mound system). I suppose it's possible if there was collateral costs such as replacing landscaping.
    "Far more critical than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know." - Eric Hoffer

  8. #38
    RPC
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    As was indicated earlier, the soil filters out toxins from the septic tank effluent so that it never reaches the groundwater, at least not in harmful amounts. The operation of a septic system depends upon this principle. Detergents, cleaning chemicals, and the toxic waste products of the breakdown of human wastes would all contaminate the groundwater if this didn't happen. Does anyone know why photo chemicals would be any different in this regard?

    Probably for political correctness and legal reasons Kodak advises in some of its literature not to pour photo chemicals into a septic system, but if it was that important, wouldn't they, for the home darkroom user, put proper disposal info right on the labels of their chemistry, not just in some obscure literature? Does anyone know if they have ever done that? My guess is they know that the small amounts of a home user aren't a problem. Has anyone ever seen any documentation or case histories of the contamination of groundwater, or the improper operation of a septic system being attributed to a home darkroom worker putting photo chemicals down the drain? Wouldn't Kodak tell us that? I think experience is a better guide here than theory. If anyone can document such cases, please do so for the benefit of us all.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgb74 View Post
    As to $125k, I find that hard to believe, even if there was a drainfield soil issue that had to be addressed and even if a pump was required (as it usually is with a mound system). I suppose it's possible if there was collateral costs such as replacing landscaping.
    Agree with all you wrote. I did hear the $125K figure second hand, but you can see the mound system from the road and it is impressive. Takes up perhaps 1/8 acre and is in a separate fenced in area. The mound might be 8 or 10 feet high and is 40 or 50 feet long. I've seen plenty of other mound systems that aren't anywhere near as big. I don't know what is installed inside that mound but I also have a definite impression that the entire thing is uphill from the house it serves. The story I heard was that they were well into permitted improvements when this requirement was added... and that if they'd known they wouldn't have improved their house because it ended up being most of the expense. But it's also good to take this kind of gossip w/ a grain of salt!

    Edit: I should have mentioned that our area is famous for its well-draining sandy loam too. When we moved in and tested the well, I pumped over 3000 gallons of water into the front of our property and we ended up with a circle of green that was only about 15 feet in diameter... there was simply no runoff, it all went straight down. That's why the requirement of the above ground system caused so much buzz in our neighborhood.
    Last edited by NedL; 12-23-2012 at 02:34 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by NedL View Post
    Agree with all you wrote. I did hear the $125K figure second hand, but you can see the mound system from the road and it is impressive. Takes up perhaps 1/8 acre and is in a separate fenced in area. The mound might be 8 or 10 feet high and is 40 or 50 feet long. I've seen plenty of other mound systems that aren't anywhere near as big. I don't know what is installed inside that mound but I also have a definite impression that the entire thing is uphill from the house it serves. The story I heard was that they were well into permitted improvements when this requirement was added... and that if they'd known they wouldn't have improved their house because it ended up being most of the expense. But it's also good to take this kind of gossip w/ a grain of salt!

    How many toilets do they have?!!!!
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

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