AbstractThe aim of this work was to study the effect of ozone, either alone or combined with an activated sludge system, on the reduction of the recalcitrant COD in the effluent of a chemimechanical pulping (NaOH -Na2SO3) integrated mill. Several alternative schemes involving ozonation were tested on liquors and effluents of the pulp mill, and on two kinds of effluents were taken at different points of an activated sludge pilot plant. The largest decrease in COD was 33%, whereas that in aromatic compounds (absorbance at 232.5 nm) was of 73%. The most obvious result of the ozone treatment was effluent decolorization. It was not possible to use ozonation as tertiary treatment, as ozone was necessary to treat the BOD generated, and therefore the effluent must necessarily pass through a biological treatment. With a scheme including an intermediate ozonation between two secondary treatments (post-activated sludge and pre-aeration lagoon), the maximum reductions achieved were of 70% in COD, of 93% in aromatics, and of 96% in color. The limits of COD allowed by the environmental regulations (<250 mg/L) could be achieved with the following stages: 1) primary clarifier, 2) activated sludge system, 3) ozonation, 4) aeration lagoon, and 5) stabilization lagoon.