Sludge is a liq­uid as­set

Waste re­moval can de­liver a river of gold, writes James Stan­ford

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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.

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