Red water (waste)

Red water (waste)

Red water (also known as "Sellite water") and pink water are two distinct types of wastewater associated with TNT. Pink water is produced from equipment washing processes after munitions filling or demilitarization operations. Red water is produced during manufacture, as part of the process used to purify the crude TNT. It has a complex composition containing more than a dozen aromatic compounds, but the principal components are inorganic salts (sodium sulfite, sulfate, nitrite and nitrate) and sulfonited nitroaromatics.

Red water is actually colourless or very pale buff at the time of generation; the red colour is produced by photolytic reactions under the influence of sunlight. Despite the name, red water is not necessarily any darker in colour than pink water; the colour depends mainly on duration of solar exposure.

Red water is significantly toxic, more so even than TNT itself. As such it has always been considered a hazardous waste. It has traditionally been disposed of by evaporation to dryness (as the toxic components are not volatile), followed by incineration. Much research has been conducted to develop better disposal processes.


* [ Explosives & the Environment] at
* [ Toxicity and Metabolism of Explosives] (by Jehuda Yinon), referenced at Google Books.

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