Environmental Impacts of Thermal and Brine Dispersion Using Hydrodynamic Modelling for Yanbu Desalination Plant, on the Eastern Coast of the Red Sea
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For any coastal desalination plant, the most effective and practical way to dispose of their brine is to thermally discharge it into the sea via outfalls at some distance from the coast. This study focused on the environmental impacts associated with brine and thermal discharge arising from seawater desalination plants at Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, on the southeastern coast of the Red Sea. The impacts associated with recirculation patterns and dispersions were investigated with the calibrated three-dimensional numerical model Delft3d. The environmental impact assessment and the process of identification and characterisation could help improve strategies for better planning and management of the technological solutions related to desalination. Analysis of the model simulations for the different seasons also suggested that around the outfall location, the magnitude of the flow was always high when considered together with the presence of seasonal eddy circulations. Although the tidal flow is lower, the ambient current and wind cause the far-field discharge to spread along the north–south direction during the winter and summer. The thermal and brine dispersion and environmental compliance were assessed in terms of the extent of dispersion. The well-mixed environment caused more rapid dispersion. From the impact level assessment perspective, the study indicated rapid dilution and dispersion of the wastewater at the study region. The present offshore outfall and further offshore locations were far enough to ensure quick dispersion.
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