A $10 million wastewater treatment plant at Hercules Inc.'s Bacchus Works is in full operation.

Ted H. Olson, communications director, said testing of the plant has been completed and began operating this week. The testing process has not found any significant problems thus far and no major difficulties are expected, Olson said.The plant, which will neutralize explosives-contaminated water created by manufacturing processes, was completed Oct. 1. The plant will deal specifically with nitroglycerin residues and HMX compounds. HMX is an organic explosive used in some manufacturing processes.

The plant was unveiled in July by company officials who said Hercules Inc. is embarking on a worldwide environmental protection effort that will cost the company $250 million over the next five years. Company officials said the effort is a symbol of the company's commitment to fighting pollution.

The new plant, along with some 25 water collection sites that have been constructed at Hercules, will replace numerous sumps where the water was allowed to collect in the past and then settle into the ground. Those sumps are being eliminated and will be cleaned up over a period of time. In the past, the company had to "shoot" (blow up) those sites to eliminate potentially dangerous collections of explosive elements. After the clean up, the old sump sites will be replanted and landscaped.

Initially, the new plant is expected to handle about 20,000 gallons of water a day It has a maximum capability of processing 80,000 gallons per day.

The plant will also ease concerns raised by the Magna Water and Sewer Improvement District and should pave the way for an agreement whereby the district will continue to accept industrial wastewater generated by Hercules.