Sludge is a liquid asset
Waste removal can deliver a river of gold, writes James Stanford
YOU can say his work sucks and Lucas Cavanagh won’t be offended. The 25-year-old runs a Queensland waste-removal company specialising in sucking up a whole range of nasty waste and taking it to treatment centres.
He bought the Power Pumping operation four years ago, starting with a single old truck.
From hard work and smart decisions Lucas now has five trucks running the latest vacuum pump trailers with serious wastecollection ability. They Hoover up an incredible range of materials that are difficult to clean up.
‘‘What we cover is so diverse— it could be milk products, sand, gravel, paint, oiIy water and grease traps,’’ Lucas says.
Excess liquids from manufacturing processes are also cleaned up by Power Pumping. These have included alcohol overflows at breweries.
‘‘We pumped 1000 litres of pancake batter once,’’ he says. ‘‘You just don’t know what is on the cards and nothing surprises me now.’’
Power Pumping also picks up thicker material that becomes less fluid with time. ‘‘We pump concrete slurry and sometimes you don’t get time to wash out the tank after each run, which means some of it can go hard,’’ he says. ‘‘You just have to be careful and remove it at the end of the day.’’
Getting out the thicker liquids is easier than you might think.
‘‘Some of the tanks have full opening rear doors and they tip right up to about a 45-degree angle, which is handy,’’ Lucas says.
Power Pumping does not handle toxic waste, but it does pick up material that can be treated.
‘‘We take the material to one of 10 recycling facilities, picking the right one for what you are carrying,’’ Lucas says, using the example of oily water to explain how the plants work.
‘‘With oily water, they are able to clean the water and the treated water is then put back in the sewer,’’ he says. ‘‘With the oil, they are able to treat it and then sell it as furnace oil for industry, for smelters and things like that.’’
Lucas has come a long way in a short time. He joined another waste company before going out alone in 2006. ‘‘We only had one truck back then, it was an old Isuzu. Old and faithful,’’ Lucas says. ‘‘Four years later we have five trucks, which is pretty amazing.’’
Power Pumping runs mostly Isuzu trucks, including two F-Series models, a five-tonne rigid and a 50-tonne Giga.
There is also a Mazda Titan, used for accessing tight spots that the trucks can’t reach.
Most of the trucks run tanks produced by S and T Fabrications in Yatala, Queensland. The Giga CXY 45 has a tank on the back built by Vacuum Truck Supplies in Melbourne and an S and T trailer.
This is the big daddy of the Power Pumping squad and can carry 28,000kg of waste using a mounted tank and a detachable dog trailer tank.
Home and hose: just another day on the job for Lucas Cavanagh (above left) and Josh MacBeth of Power Pumping.