K&K Tank Cleaning Wins Star Award From Fort Worth Wastewater Agency

Roy and Glenda Kincheloe, owners of K&K Tank Cleaning System of Fort Worth, Texas, have proven that it doesn't take the newest technology to comply with current wastewater standards. And, the City of Fort Worth agrees.

The four-bay commercial tank cleaning business received the water department's 1999 Pretreatment Star Award for wastewater handling. K&K Tank Cleaning System was noted for one year of 100% compliance with local, state, and federal pretreatment regulations.

"This tank wash has been in operation since the 1960s," says Roy. "We are very proud to have received this award because we have a strong commitment to the environment, and this demonstrates that we are living up to that commitment.

"Glenda's father, Jack Chase, bought the facility and updated the equipment four years ago. We bought it from him two years ago and continue to keep everything in good order. We don't clean tank trailers that have been hauling resins or poisons, or other extremely hazardous materials, so that makes our environmental job a little easier."

Typically, K&K provides service for tanks that have contained formaldehyde, herbicides, caustic soda, or petrochemicals. Among the foodgrade products seen at the cleaning facility are milk, orange juice, grape juice, hot sauce, vinegar, soybean oil, chocolate, lard, cream, fatty acid, and yeast. Dry bulk trailers carrying plastic pellets destined for foodgrade manufacturing are cleaned in the foodgrade bays.

"We open them up and look at everything," says Roy. "We have to be sure that no pellets remain lodged behind the gaskets. Some of the pellets are white and some are blue, so if any of the blue ones remain behind, they can contaminate the entire load of white ones. Usually, the trailers have four domelids, so we put the spinner through each one."

Among the tank wash customers are Schneider Bulk, Groendyke Transport, TXI Transport, Bynum Transport, Chevron, Andrews Transport, Indian River, and Slay Transportation. About 60% of the business comes from foodgrade and 40% from chemical.

Tank trailer maintenance facilities in the area also boost the business because the tanks usually have to be cleaned before work begins, says Roy.

The wash is open from 7 am until 9 pm Monday through Friday in the winter and 7 am until 10 pm in the summer. Hours on Saturdays are from 8 am until noon. In addition, someone is on call on Sunday and at other times, if needed, says Roy.

Wastewater Handling Wastewater from the two foodgrade and two chemical bays flows into floor drains and then through four settlement tanks, two with capacities of 1,000 gallons each and two filter tanks that will hold 600 gallons each. Solids are removed, placed in drums, and hauled away by Safety Kleen Corp, a liquid waste service company. Liquids, monitored by the city, are released into the sewer.

Municipal awards aren't the only honors the couple receives. Drivers offer accolades for cleaning that meets the stiff sanitary requirements handed down by foodgrade shippers. "Sometimes, after the trailer has been cleaned at other tank wash facilities, it will be rejected by the shipper and I have to take it back to the wash," said one driver. "That doesn't happen here."

Compliments range even higher for the driver's lounge with the home touch of hot dogs, popcorn, breakfast cereals, an occasional pizza or barbecue ordered in, and a never-empty pot of hot coffee. "We've added a satellite system for the television so that the drivers have more choices of programs to watch while they are waiting," says Roy.

It's not unusual, the couple say, for them to share their Texas Rangers baseball team season tickets with the drivers.

"We don't want to get so big that we can't offer this personal service," says Glenda of the company that has annual revenue of $550,000. "My dad started in the tank wash business in the 1980s. He opened wash racks in Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and in Houston, Texas, all of which he later sold. He saw the market potential in Fort Worth. He really believes in personal service. We've carried on with that philosophy."

There is enough parking space on the five-acre site that part of it can be leased to carriers and still leave plenty of room for customers' rigs.

Cleaning Bays Across the yard from the office is the building housing the cleaning bays. K&K uses fluid-driven Gamajet spinners. The spinners use 120 gallons of water per minute at 100 psi. A 360-degree spray pattern is completed in nine minutes. The unit can be run for a partial cycle if necessary.

A Williams & Davis Inc boiler supplies hot water and steam. One of the bays is usually dedicated to steam cleaning and heating but can be used for other cleaning as necessary. Between 13 and 15 tank trailers are cleaned every day at the Fort Worth wash rack. To see if any special handling is required, the driver's shipping papers are checked before the tank is inspected for heel.

"We use Glenda's dad's 'bible,'" says Roy, holding up a notebook containing an extensive list of products hauled in tank trailers. The list is cross-referenced by the specific cleaning process for each product.

Heel is removed from the tank and placed into a roll-off trailer if it is nonhazardous and into drums if it is hazardous, all for later disposal. Either a hot or cold water flush will be applied based on the 'bible' instructions. Caustic will be used if necessary in the next step.

"We offer various services," says Roy. "We will dry chemical trailers if the customer orders it. We have drying capability in all four bays. We also can steam clean petroleum trailers. Another service we offer is to provide covers for the end of hoses; however, that's more likely for the foodgrade trailers."

In the foodgrade bay, removed heel is placed in drums for later disposal. Foodgrade trailers are steamed in a first flush followed by a circulation of detergent, if necessary, and then a hot rinse. Hot rinse water is maintained at a minimum of 180 degrees F. "We cool the trailer if it is scheduled to pick up a heat-sensitive product like milk when it leaves us," says Roy. "It usually takes about an hour to clean a foodgrade trailer - a little longer for the others."

Three Employees The Kincheloes employ three people, two for cleaning and one for the office. Both tank cleaners are certified for confined-space entry, having received training from Glenda who attended a three-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)rules and regulations information class at the local community college. She also attended classes that covered information about environmental concerns and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules and regulations.

She instructs employees on workplace safety procedures such as use of safety harnesses and product familiarization.

Although Roy and Glenda plan to continue their personalized service standard, they also have long-term projections for further capital improvements over the next 10 years. New offices are scheduled for the near future. The business continues to grow, promoted by word of mouth. Their ability to perform a quality service, combined with the extra effort to welcome drivers, has the couple well positioned for a prosperous future.

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