Like an evil wizard giant’s mug of beer, it simmered in the corner. Within, a head of black foam concealed deep green acid, itself incubating an oozing muck, the skins of a thousand victims, peeled by the acid and the aid of the wizard’s arcane powers. Noxious fumes rolled from the vat.
Over the once gleaming pipes, now crusted with tarry filth.
Over the once white sides, now pitch with grime.
Over the hands, now poised…
Yes folks! That’s right! Thursday the 7th was the dreaded day. The day the tank of concentrated sulfuric and phosphoric acid (too long neglected in the corner of the warehouse) was to be drained, dredged, and doused in preparation of being filled with fresh acid. We (the people…) donned our rubber aprons, our shoulder length chemical gloves, our respirators, and our full face masks and began manfully draining the tank into 55 gallon plastic drums.
Eight hours, one box of surgical gloves, one melted pump, eight drums of acid, two breaks to wash the acid out of my shirt, a pool scrub-brush, and a snickers bar later, the dirty deed was done. First there was the acid to pump out. Some of the acid got into the pump, which promptly melted; Good thing we had a backup. Next we had to scrape, scoop, and sop up about a foot of sludge at the bottom of the tank. This involved much leaning over the edge, which coated the under-arm portion of my shirt with splotches of acid… Splotches which soon blossomed purple discolerations. Thankfully, the acid washed out. Unfortunately, so did the discolorations. Finally we scrubbed the sides of the tank with a big pool cleaning brush. We never did get the sides looking white again though, somehow the acid and the dissolved metal had caked on to the tank in an immovable patina a quarter of an inch thick. Our boss called it quits after an hour or so of fruitless scrubbing. At this point the Electropolish room looked like a disaster area. The top of the last drum was dripping with black toxic ooze. The sides of the tank were smeared with a blackish-green corrosive paste. There were white rags scattered everywhere, all now black as coal. The soles of our shoes had grown soft. Friday was cleanup.
I took Friday off and went camping.