A&WMA – The Uncertainty EPA has Created with New NSPS XXX and Cf Rules
June 2, 2020
On-Demand Webinar at A&WMA Virtual Conference
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created confusion with its most recent versions of the MSW landfill New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and Emission Guidelines (EG) [40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 60, Subparts XXX and Cf], which were promulgated in August 2016. The NSPS XXX and EG Cf rules do not give clear on and off-ramps from the old NSPS Subpart WWW and EG Subpart Cc rules and have various inconsistent and overlapping requirements. EPA made matters worse by not updating the MSW landfill National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs), 40 CFR Part 63 Subpart AAAA rule at the same time. This created a situation where both the old and new rules could apply simultaneously, even though the new rules were supposed to replace the old rules (with conflicting requirements).
This and other issues forced the industry to petition EPA for relief, and the industry obtained a temporary stay and then a commitment to reconsider the rules. Concurrently, EPA informally agreed not to push forward with approving state plans for the EG under Cf, which gave the industry hope that EPA could fix the rules before most landfills became subject to the new rules via approved state plans. However, some states sued EPA over this delay, and EPA lost. As such, EPA was forced by the courts to begin approving the state plans as well as issue a federal plan for the EG (Subpart OOO), for which a draft rule was published in August 2019 and a final rule is pending.
Also, before they planned to reconsider Subparts XXX/Cf, EPA decided to update the NESHAP rule, including a risk and technology review (RTR). While doing this, EPA also tried to resolve some of the Subpart XXX/Cf issues using the NESHAPs rule as well as add some new requirements not included in the NSPS XXX and EG Cf rules. However, the draft NESHAPs rule demonstrated that EPA had only created more confusion and uncertainty.
The solid waste industry commented on the Subpart AAAA rule and is waiting for EPA to issue it. EPA says the reconsideration of XXX/Cf will not be considered until 2021 or 2022.
Currently, landfill owners and operators remain in a state of limbo. Some sites are complying with Subpart XXX and dealing with the duplicate requirements from Subpart WWW and other issues. Several states have approved Cf EG rules, so landfills in those states must begin to comply with those state rules. Several other states have proposed state plan approvals and could see approved EG rules issued soon. When EPA issues the federal plan for the EG, all of the remaining landfills in states without approved state plans will have to start to comply. This will put all NSPS/EG-applicable landfills into the same boat with the existing Subpart XXX sites with all of the problems that will bring.
The Air & Waste Management Association with SCS Engineers presents on-demand sessions include an update on the status of each of the regulations identified here, a description of the remaining areas of uncertainty and confusion, and a summary of the strategy for compliance in use by landfills during this period of limbo.
SCS Engineers, P.C. Expands Environmental Consulting in North Carolina
June 1, 2020
Matt Brokaw, P.E. joins the SCS Engineers new office at 3801 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 430, Raleigh, NC 27607, Tel: +1-919-662-3015
SCS Engineers, a top-tier ENR environmental consulting and construction firm, opened a larger office in Raleigh, North Carolina, in late May. The move centralizes the team closer to their clients’ sites to provide full-services. The new office accommodates new team members, including Matt Brokaw. Matt joins the SCS professionals who provide environmental services for solid waste management for the benefit of municipal and private landfills, public works, and recycling.
As a Senior Project Professional, Matt is responsible for the engineering and design of environmental solutions, with a primary focus in solid waste, stormwater management and planning, and erosion and sediment control critical to permitting compliant facilities and ultimately protecting natural resources. Extending the life of a landfill and adding airspace is often critical for the communities SCS clients serve.
The new SCS Raleigh location supports the growing demand for full-service environmental solutions supported by a mix of professionals. As specialized teams, they can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, capture landfill gases, create renewable energy from by-products, and optimize utilities and businesses using environmental practices that are economically feasible. The firm specializes in permitting for and meeting comprehensive clean air, water, and soil goals. It provides a range of services such as PFAS treatment, solid waste master planning, landfill technology, risk management, groundwater monitoring, pre-closure and landfill closures, and Brownfields remediation.
About SCS Engineers
SCS Engineers’ environmental solutions and technology are a direct result of our experience and dedication to solid waste management and other industries responsible for safeguarding the environment. For more information about SCS, please visit our website at www.scsengineers.com/, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, follow us on your preferred social media, or watch our 50th Anniversary video.
Posted by Diane Samuels at 1:02 pm
Tag Archives: environmental consulting
Landfill Airspace – Are You Maximizing Your Greatest Asset?
May 20, 2020
SCS’s Advice from the Field Series
Landfills, especially large regional landfills, are huge enterprises with many different operations ongoing daily. A landfill’s tangible assets are equipment, buildings, machinery, construction materials in the ground, or stockpiled to support various operations. Of all these, the most significant asset is the permitted airspace. It’s undoubtedly a non-tangible asset when permitted, but gradually this asset gets consumed as it turns into revenue.
Creating landfill airspace during a design/permitting process involves the operator hiring a landfill engineer to develop the concept of the airspace, prepare an appropriate design with engineering methods, and obtain a permit for it through regulatory agencies. In a sense, a portion of your future revenue is in the hands of your landfill engineer. You depend on this engineer to create the maximum amount of airspace, generating the maximum amount of revenue for your operation over time. Your engineer is supposed to be your trusted partner, and you are investing an enormous amount of capital for the design, permit, and construction based on the work performed by the engineer.
In some instances, the operator leaves most of the technical decision making to the engineer. On other occasions, the operator is in the loop during the engineer’s design, but the operator is not heavily involved in the nuances of the disposal cell’s layout in consideration of the existing terrain. In either case, the engineer is significantly responsible for achieving the maximum amount of airspace. The multi-million dollar question is whether you could have had another 3 million or 5 million cubic yards of additional airspace in your permit. How do you check if your landfill engineer maximized airspace in the design?
Assuming proper training, most landfill engineers can design adequate landfills. Still, very few landfill engineers have the unique talent and experience that can maximize airspace within specific design parameters. You, as the operator want engineers with a proven track record of maximizing airspace in their landfill designs, and do not let relationships or political nuances affect your judgment during selection because tens of millions of dollars of additional revenue are at stake.
A trained landfill engineer may miss details that a highly qualified engineer would not. Incidentals here and there, if recognized and accounted for, can add significant airspace to the design. These details vary from site to site, and it’s up to the engineer to recognize the benefits of geometric and regulatory opportunities to add to the covered airspace. These details could be in the form of:
Special geometries for the landfill slopes,
The lateral extent of waste limits,
The landfill footprint placement within the terrain,
The extent of excavation for establishing bottom grades for disposal cells,
The relative position of base grades with respect to the groundwater elevations,
Combining leachate collection sumps among two or more disposal cells,
Steeper slopes to increase airspace while staying within the bounds of regulatory requirements,
Positioning peripheral systems in a different way to benefit from additional land to add to the landfill footprint,
Considering future expansion down the road and planning appropriately, and
Other nuances that an expert considers.
The operator chooses the project manager or the primary engineer for the design of a greenfield landfill or an expansion to an existing landfill, knowing that the work performed by the selected engineer could potentially add to or take away hundreds of millions of dollars from the bottom line of your enterprise. So, pick your engineer based on the engineer’s prior design track record and make sure the engineer is an expert in maximizing landfill airspace.
SCS is an expert, highly experienced landfill designer – relied on by many landfill operators as a trusted partner. Our culture is to serve our clients as if their project is our own, and we do not consider ourselves successful unless our clients are satisfied. These close relationships help us serve the majority of our clients on a long-term basis, with decades of continuous service and value.
SCS will gladly evaluate scenarios for your landfill expansions that you are planning to design and permit, and provide you with a preliminary estimate of airspace gain and revenue that an SCS design could bring, potentially increasing your primary asset by another tens of millions of dollars. Now that’s a value statement!
About the Author: Ali Khatami, Ph.D., PE, LEP, CGC, is a Project Director and a Vice President of SCS Engineers. He is also our National Expert for Landfill Design and Construction Quality Assurance. He has nearly 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering.
Emerging Design Concepts to Facilitate Flow of Liquids on Landfills
May 11, 2020
The industry is designing and building more substantive drainage features and larger collection systems from the bottom up, that maintain their integrity and increase performance over time, thus avoiding more costly problems in the future.
Waste360 spoke with three environmental engineers about what landfill operators should know about liquids’ behavior and what emerging design concepts help facilitate flow and circumvent problems such as elevated temperature landfills, seeps, and keep gas flowing.
The engineers cover adopting best practices and emerging design concepts to facilitate flow. They cover topics such as directing flow vertically to facilitate movement to the bottom of the landfill, drainage material, slope to the sump percentages, vertical stone columns, installing these systems at the bottom before cells are constructed, and increasing cell height to prevent the formation of perched zones.
Ali Khatami, one of the engineers interviewed, has developed standards for building tiered vertical gas wells that extend from the bottom all the way up. He frequently blogs about landfill design strategies that his clients are using with success. His blog is called SCS Advice from the Field. Dr. Khatami developed the concept of leachate toe drain systems to address problems tied to seeps below the final cover geomembrane. These seeps ultimately occur in one of two scenarios, each depending on how the cover is secured.
Landfill Gas Header: Location and BenefitsBy continuing to design gas header construction on landfill slopes, all of the components end up on the landfill slope as well. You can imagine what type of complications the landfill operator will face since all of these components are in areas vulnerable to erosion, settlement, future filling, or future construction. Additionally, any maintenance requiring digging and re-piping necessitates placing equipment on the landfill slope and disturbing the landfill slope surface for an extended period.
AIRSPACE, the Landfill Operators’ Golden EggAirspace is a golden egg, the equivalent to cash that a waste operating company will have overtime in its account. With each ton or cubic yard of waste received at the landfill, the non-monetary asset of airspace converts positively to the bottom line of the …
Gas Removal from Leachate Collection Pipe and Leachate SumpKeeping gas pressure low in and around the leachate collection pipe promotes the free flow of leachate through the geocomposite or granular medium drainage layer to the leachate collection pipe and improves leachate removal from the disposal cell. Using gas removal piping at leachate sumps is highly recommended for warm or elevated temperature landfills where efficient leachate removal from the leachate collection system is another means for controlling landfill temperatures.
Leachate Force Main Casing Pipe and Monitoring for LeaksLandfill operators may add a casing pipe to their leachate force main for additional environmental protection. Consequently, the leachate force main is entirely located inside a casing pipe where the leachate force main is below ground. In the event of a leak from the leachate force main, liquids stay inside the casing pipe preventing leakage …
Pressure Release System Near Bottom of LandfillsPressure Release System Near Bottom of Landfills – Essential Component for Proper Functioning of the Landfill Drainage Layer. Landfill designers are generally diligent in performing extensive leachate head analysis for the design of the geocomposite drainage layer above the bottom geomembrane barrier layer. They perform HELP model analyses considering numerous scenarios to satisfy all requirements …
Landfill Leachate Removal Pumps – Submersible vs. Self-Priming PumpsSelf-priming pumps can provide excellent performance in the design of a landfill leachate removal system. Landfill owners and operators prefer them to help control construction and maintenance costs too. A typical system for removing leachate from landfill disposal cells is to have a collection point (sump) inside …
Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: environmental consulting
Recent Court and EPA Decisions Impacting Industries
May 6, 2020
CERLCA Jurisdiction and PRP Definition
A recent Meyers | Nave publication discusses the Supreme Court’s April 20, 2020 decision in Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian. The firm suggests the decision adds another layer of complexity to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act – CERCLA, liability issue. The decision opens the door for state courts to hear claims that challenge EPA-defined approved clean-ups and has the potential to expand the “potentially responsible party” – PRP class for current “owners” of a “facility.”
The Court’s decision introduces new considerations into CERCLA liability analysis and settlement strategy. The Court’s holding will have many immediate ramifications, including the following:
It may be argued that the decision broadens the definition of PRP. CERCLA’s already-expansive definition of PRPs now includes landowners whose soil is contaminated by another PRP’s facility because a release has “come to be located” on their land.
The decision has the potential to unravel comprehensive and time-consuming CERCLA requirements in a federally-approved clean-up scheme. For example, if EPA waives the requirement to adopt state applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements (“ARARs”) at a federal CERCLA site, it seems entirely plausible that some litigants could use a nuisance or similar lawsuit to seek to impose ARARs that EPA specifically considered and waived.
The decision might have created an additional layer of CERCLA requirements that apply to PRPs that desire to bring state law claims in state court. Though they were found to be PRPs, the plaintiff landowners were allowed to present their own plan to restore their own private property as long as they obtained EPA approval, but it is unclear what process the landowners would use.
The decision might reduce the incentive to enter into CERCLA settlements with EPA if parties are not shielded from contribution claims − which now could arise by exposing settling parties to potential litigation at the state level. While the Court noted that CERCLA: (1) encourages covenants not to sue which cap liability to the Government and (2) protects settling parties from contribution claims by other PRPs, the decision seems to contradict both of those positions and undermines finality of settlements.
Clean Water Act Developments
In April, the courts and federal agencies announced major developments significantly affecting regulation under the Clean Water Act – CWA and how the CWA may be applied in the future.
First, a U.S. District Court in Montana issued a sweeping decision under Section 404 of the CWA that purports to invalidate and enjoin the use of Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12), the widely-used general CWA § 404 permit for construction of pipelines and other utility lines across regulated water bodies, for all projects anywhere in the country.
Second, the Trump Administration published its long-anticipated “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” in the Federal Register, defining what constitutes Waters of the United States (WOTUS) that are regulated under the CWA, which is narrower in scope than both the 2015 rule promulgated by the Obama Administration and the pre-2015 rule now in effect.
Third, the Supreme Court issued a decision in County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al. (No. 18-260) in which the majority held that a CWA discharge permit is required where “the addition of the pollutants through groundwater is the functional equivalent of direct discharge from [a] point source into navigable waters [i.e., WOTUS].”
Each of these developments could have far-reaching implications for regulations under the CWA. Assuming the 2020 Rule withstands legal challenges, it is seen as favorable for industry and other regulated entities, while the two judicial decisions are perceived as problematic for such entities. Davis Graham & Stubbs describes each development in more detail in the firm’s recently published article.
MATS Supplemental Cost Finding and Clean Air Act RTR
On April 16, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the 2016 Supplemental Cost Finding for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards – MATS, for coal- and oil-fired power plants, consistent with a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision. The agency also completed the Clean Air Act-required residual risk and technology review – RTR, for MATS. According to the EPA power plants are already complying with the standards that limit emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), and this final action leaves those emission limits in place and unchanged.
However, with this final action, EPA is not removing coal- and oil-fired power plants from the list of affected source categories for regulation under section 112 of the Clean Air Act, consistent with existing case law. Those power plants remain subject to and must comply with the mercury emissions standards of the MATS rule, which remains fully in effect notwithstanding the revised cost-benefit analysis.
In addition, EPA has completed the required RTR for MATS and determined no changes to the rule are needed to further reduce residual risk. The RTR satisfies the statutory requirements set out by Congress in the Clean Air Act. More information is available on EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards website.
Proposal to Retain NAAQS for Particulate Matter
On April 14, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – EPA announced its proposal to retain, without changes, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards – NAAQS for particulate matter (PM) including both fine particles (PM2.5) and coarse particles (PM10).
According to the EPA because of Clean Air Act programs and efforts by state, local and tribal governments, as well as technological improvements, average PM2.5 concentrations in the U.S. fell by 39 percent between 2000 and 2018 while average PM10 concentrations fell by 31 percent during the same period.
EPA will accept public comment for 60 days after the proposed standards are published in the Federal Register. EPA plans to issue the final standards by the end of 2020.
U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks Inventory Announcement
The Environmental Protection Agency’s annual report, “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2018,” provides a comprehensive look at U.S. emissions and removals by source, economic sector, and greenhouse gas – GHG. The gases covered by this inventory include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride. The inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by “sinks,” e.g., through the uptake of carbon and storage in forests, vegetation, and soils.
On April 13, 2020, the EPA’s comprehensive annual report on nationwide GHG emissions released to the public. It shows that since 2005, national GHG emissions have fallen by 10%, and power sector emissions have fallen by 27%.
“While there was a small rise in emissions due to weather and increased energy demand from the prior year in this report, based on preliminary data, we expect next year’s report to show that the long-term downward trend will continue,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
According to the announcement, annual trends are responsive to weather variability and economic conditions. Year-over-year, national GHG emissions were 3% higher in 2018 than the prior year, due to multiple factors, including increased energy consumption from greater heating and cooling needs due to a colder winter and hotter summer in 2018 compared to 2017.
According to environmental and research groups, driving the drop’s long-term downward trend is chiefly due to a shift away from coal power generation. The 2019 drop was driven by a nearly 10 percent fall in emissions from the power sector, the biggest decline in decades [Rhodium Climate Service]. Utilities are closing coal plants in favor of cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.
Emissions from industry rose slightly last year, and are now greater than those from coal-fired power plants, most driven by a strong economy. Emissions from buildings were up, and emissions from other sectors of the economy collectively grew by more. The shift to lower-carbon energy is largely restricted to the electricity sector, and in order to meet international and state goals, state policies continue to target other sectors that collectively make up a majority of U.S. emissions.
For more information about potential impacts to waste, energy, or manufacturing please contact your nearest SCS Engineer’s office or your Project Manager.
Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: environmental consulting
Treating Ammonia in Landfill Leachate
May 4, 2020
In this Waste Today article, Sam Cooke discusses the factors, treatment options, analytical methods, and identifying PFAS sources to most effectively reduce the concentrations of ammonia and PFAS in landfill leachate.
Reducing these concentrations help meet discharge permit requirements for direct discharge of treated leachate to surface waters and to meet publicly owned treatment works (POTW) discharge permit standards.
Sam points out that accomplishing ammonia and PFAS reduction with established wastewater treatment technologies works, but the right treatment depends on each site’s specific parameters. He suggests conducting bench-scale and pilot-scale testing for any feasible nitrogen removal or treatment system. Testing the wastewater helps to identify any changes in the concentration of nitrogen compounds. Thus, necessary changes to the treatment processes, such as additional aeration or chemical additions are easier to identify and less costly to implement.
About the Author: Mr. Cooke, PE, CEM, MBA, is a Vice President and our expert on Industrial Waste Pretreatment. He has nearly three decades of professional and project management experience in engineering with a concentration in environmental and energy engineering. Mr. Cooke works within SCS’s Liquids Management initiative to provide services to our clients nationwide.
SWANA Young Professional of the Year Lindsey Carlson
May 1, 2020
SWANA’s Badger Chapter Board of Directors recognized Lindsey Carlson with the YP of the Year Award.
Lindsey is an employee-owner at SCS Engineers on the solid waste management team performing Construction Quality Assurance – CQA and reporting for field projects, as well as OM&M on landfills and assisting with landfill reporting and compliance.
Lindsey earned her BS in Soil and Waste Resources—Waste Management from the University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point in the Summer of 2018. She currently serves on the SWANA Badger Chapter Board and is co-YP Liaison, plus participates in SCS’s Young Professionals program.
The Gambia, is a tiny sliver of a country in West Africa, has a population of just under 2.5 million. About a fourth of the country’s population is under the jurisdiction of the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) – the most densely populated area of The Gambia. The people and leadership of the Kanifing municipality are united in their desire to have positive changes in solid waste management in the community and at the Bakoteh dumpsite. Ideally, solving the problem will implement a means of positive change for many aspects of the KMC citizens’ lives.
Outside of work, Lindsey is a self-described “bird nerd” who has two parrots: A Green Cheek Conure (7 years old) and a Yellow-Naped Amazon (34 years old). She often volunteers at Feathered Friends Sanctuary and Rescue where they provide care for around 65 surrendered parrots.
Congratulations Lindsey! We’re very proud of you.
Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: environmental consulting
Strategies for Climate Change Planning & Adaptation for Waste Management Facilities
April 30, 2020
Scientists and experts agree that climate change is a present-day threat to communities across the U.S., manifesting in both predictable and unpredictable ways. As detailed in the National Climate Assessment Vol. 4 (NCA4), coastal storms are increasing in strength and frequency, forest fires are becoming much larger and more destructive, annual precipitation is changing and increasing in variability, and widespread flooding is becoming more common both in the interior of the nation and along the coasts.
These changes present complex challenges to the waste management industry that must be addressed and planned for. For example, one challenge is an increasing frequency of large-scale weather events and natural disasters, which are creating more debris that must be managed and which affects the characteristics of landfilled waste. Landfill design needs to incorporate precipitation changes and increased threats due to weather variability, flooding, and sea-level rise. Precipitation changes affect gas generation rates and require a diligent reaction to maintain effective gas collection. Because of weather pattern changes, risks of cover material erosion and swales have increased for landfills in both wet and dry climates, which may require stronger natural caps or the use of emerging technologies for alternate cover. Additionally, landfills are affected by an increase in the variability of precipitation and rapid changes between weather extremes.
It is clear that waste management facilities must adapt to these changes in addition to scenario building for pandemics to maintain effective operations. Adaptations available include making changes to landfill design and planning, such as incorporating precipitation changes into the modeling of leachate and gas generation or increasing the distance between the bottom liner and groundwater.
Systems should be regularly evaluated and areas needing repairs should be corrected quickly and diligently. Gas generation models should be updated regularly and collection systems need to be expanded or adjusted to account for precipitation increases or decreases.
More frequent and intense storms are creating challenges for cover material management, liquids management, and maintaining slope stability. Facilities should implement innovative uses of both existing technology and new or emerging technologies.
Communities with waste management facilities should include waste management infrastructure in emergency management plans, including maintaining landfills and collections operations and using landfills as both temporary debris storage and as an option for final disposal.
Since climate change effects vary by region and locale, many facilities are developing a specific plan for adaptation and management. To reduce the inevitable costs of adaptation and maintain responsiveness to weather changes, a reactive approach is being abandoned in favor of a proactive approach.
About the Author: Jacob Shepherd is a Senior Project Professional specializing in air compliance and reporting within EPA Region III. He is experienced in environmental engineering, air compliance, renewable energy, landfill and landfill gas engineering, and environmental services throughout the mid-Atlantic region, and is a licensed P.E. in Virginia.
Resources and Recovery
Get started with these resources and recovery success studies; click to read, download, or share each:
Expansion of An Active Landfill – Vertical expansion increases the landfill volume within the existing footprint of the permitted Landfill. A landfill can run out of its storage capacity prematurely for many reasons including a response to a huge amount of debris waste from a natural disaster like a tropical storm or hurricane. Covered by ISWA.
Contact Service@scsengineers.com for assistance starting or refining your plan ahead of natural disasters and pandemics. We offer these services:
Planning for Natural Disaster Debris – help for communities to develop or revise a disaster debris management plan. Many aspects of disaster debris planning can be relevant to communities demolishing abandoned residential buildings and remediating properties.
Guidance about Planning for Natural Disaster Debris – much of the construction or demolition waste can be recovered and recycled. SCS Engineers designs and builds these facilities so we can help locate the nearest C&D debris recyclers as part of your plan.
Planning Financial Response and Recovery – the SCS Management Services™ team offers services to support financial planning and to quickly access budget and operational financial impacts. Eliminate concerns about the upcoming fiscal year expectations and anticipated medium-term impacts of pandemics and natural hazards on local government operations and revenue streams. Address issues such as:
Micro-analysis – For near-term (1-2 year) budget/operational impacts. Results produced in one day.
Avoiding municipal or utility service interruptions
Continuing to provide services to customers who can’t afford to pay
Predicting impact on property, earnings or sales tax revenues
Estimating change in water usage or waste generation
Longer-term financial impacts of staffing changes, prolonged vehicle/equipment replacements, and postponing or increased borrowing for capital projects.
Posted by Diane Samuels at 1:40 am
Tag Archives: environmental consulting
Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure – SPCC – Compliance at Electric Utility Facilities
April 13, 2020
Do you know how much oil you store in aboveground containers at your facilities? If you have more than 1,320 gallons at a facility, you may need an SPCC Plan. SPCC stands for Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure, and it is a federal rule (40 CFR 112 in the Federal Register) designed to prevent oil-based products from entering navigable waterways of the United States. But it’s about more than just compliance. It’s an important tool to help you limit your liability.
As a utility leader, your focus is to deliver electricity to your customers; however, facilities covered under the SPCC Rule are subject to inspections and potential enforcement actions if your practices are out of compliance.
Does the SPCC rule apply to me?
The 1,320-gallon threshold isn’t the only requirement for an SPCC Plan. The SPCC Rule only counts oil storage containers with a capacity of 55 gallons or more. Many electric utility facilities will meet the oil storage threshold, including substations, storage yards, power plants, and operations and maintenance facilities.
Another criterion is that a facility must reasonably be expected to discharge oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines of the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) does not define what “reasonably be expected” means. Instead, the responsibility is on the facility owner or operator to determine the potential for discharge. In reality, it’s usually easy to think of a scenario where spilled oil could reach a waterway. Even if you think a spill would never reach the stream, what if there was a significant rain event that washed away spilled oil on the ground through a storm sewer? Often “reasonably be expected” is not challenged, and it’s best to err on the side of caution.
The SPCC rule applies to my facilities, now what?
It’s time to prepare an SPCC Plan. The Plan summarizes your facility’s oil sources, identifies spill response coordinators, and outlines your spill prevention measures and spill response procedures. There are three options: 1) Prepare the Plan yourself; 2) Use a third-party provider to prepare your Plan; or 3) Have a licensed professional engineer (PE) prepare your Plan. The option you choose depends on how much oil you store at your facility and your working knowledge of the SPCC Rule.
If your facility has less than 10,000 gallons of oil and no single aboveground oil storage container with a capacity greater than 5,000 U.S. gallons, you may prepare your own SPCC Plan, following the USEPA’s Tier I qualified facility template.
If your facility has less than 10,000 gallons of oil and a single aboveground oil storage container with a capacity greater than 5,000 U.S. gallons, you qualify under the USEPA’s Tier II qualified facility category. The USEPA does not provide a plan template for a Tier II qualified facility. You can still prepare the Plan yourself, or you may hire a third party or PE to prepare the Plan for you. If you prepare the Plan yourself, you must still follow all of the requirements precisely without deviating from them.
If your facility has greater than 10,000 gallons of oil storage, you must have a licensed PE prepare and certify your facility’s SPCC Plan. The Rule allows PEs the flexibility to deviate from certain requirements, so you may decide you want a PE to prepare and certify your plan for your Tier I or Tier II qualified facility.
The Value of an SPCC Plan
An SPCC Plan is about more than just compliance. An SPCC Plan contains important information that will be critical if you have an oil spill. The Plan contains inspection forms and protocols that help you maintain your oil sources and prevent a spill from happening in the first place. It identifies the single point of contact, an “SPCC Coordinator” for the facility. If there is a spill, the Plan contains steps to contain and control the spill initially, and the proper contacts to notify internally and externally.
The SPCC Rule requires oil-handling personnel to receive annual training to respond to spills in their work areas properly, and the SPCC Plan contains the material that must be covered in training. The SPCC Plan also contains forms for you to document training, plan reviews and updates, and spill notifications.
Work with your staff to determine if the SPCC Rule applies to you. An SPCC Plan is a required document for certain facilities to help you comply with the SPCC Rule and gain the benefits of having a plan in place. But more than that, it’s a practical document designed to assist with training and inspections while serving the function to help prevent spills from occurring. And if spills do occur, an SPCC Plan provides the guidance to help control the spill and limit your liability.
About the Author: Jared Omernik has 12 years of experience helping electric utilities comply with environmental regulations, including helping utility owners and operators build and review SPCC Plans and Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs).
SCS Engineers Looks Back At 50 Years of Solid Waste Management and Environmental Services
April 3, 2020
The environmental consulting and construction firm is celebrating its 50th year in business this week.
Over the past 50 years, SCS Engineers has earned a leadership role in solid waste management and environmental services, which would not have been possible without client and industry support. There were few engineering firms specializing in environmental consulting when SCS was founded in 1970.
Today, the firm’s work supports a wide range of environmental solutions in different industries and business sectors. Fifty years ago, no one could have imagined using drones and satellites to collect information to run landfills or businesses in an environmentally safe way. However, as Jim Walsh notes, no one could have imagined a Coronavirus pandemic either; he continues:
Even today, as we are in the midst of a crisis, the likes of which none of us has ever seen in our lifetimes, our clients need us every bit as much, if not even more. In many cases, we operate and maintain critical environmental infrastructure that must continue to operate. In recent days, many of our clients are asking us if we are prepared to continue to serve them now, and as conditions worsen. We’ve said yes, fortunately, because we can and we are ready. We follow health and safety rules and guidance, we have our contingency and communications plans in place, and our employee-owners know how to circle the wagons and move forward prudently as a team.
The firm’s business model has its 70 regional and satellite offices located near client sites with mobile offices co-located on project sites. “The model has always worked well for us,” states Senior Vice President Mike McLaughlin recently. “Our professionals and technicians live nearby; our distributed network means we can drive to project sites instead of flying, for example.”
Amid the recent COVID-19 outbreak, employees are still celebrating, albeit in a different way. Postponing parties and gatherings, employees with their families watched a documentary on April 1 demonstrating the firm’s 50 years of progress and accomplishments. The film features Founder Tom Conrad narrating the firm’s history, and several of the facilities, environmental practices, and technologies in use today, with a look toward tomorrow. “We’re proud of the care and contributions by our colleagues over the years, and now,” stated Bob Gardner, senior vice president. “That sense of responsibility and ownership, along with SCS’s camaraderie, will help see us through.”
The environmental consulting firm started as a partnership between Bob Stearns, Tom Conrad, and Curt Schmidt on April 1, 1970, in Long Beach, California. The three engineers knew and respected each other’s strengths and capabilities: Stearns was an expert in solid waste; Schmidt was a water and wastewater engineer; and Conrad was a jack-of-all-trades with experience in civil engineering, solid waste, water and wastewater.
The firm’s first project was to investigate a subsurface gas problem at a residential subdivision in Palos Verdes, California, and to design a solution. Eight months after SCS was founded, a new federal agency called the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created, and SCS performed three of the first research contracts awarded by the new agency. One of those projects was a nationwide study of wastewater generation and treatment by the canned and preserved fruit and vegetable industry. Another was a national study to develop a methodology to compare and select equipment for sanitary landfills. The third was a study of the impact of federal agency regulations, policies, and practices on solid waste generation and recycling; this extensive study involved 12 agencies. To conduct these analyses, Tom Conrad moved from California to open the firm’s second office in Reston, Virginia. With these three contracts, and offices on both coasts, SCS was off and running.
In the mid-1970s, SCS engineered and began operation of two of the nation’s first gas recovery projects: Industry Hills and Ascon, both in Southern California. It was a big leap to get those systems working and commercially producing the gas for beneficial uses. Soon after, the federal government passed legislation to authorize tax credits for landfill gas recovery. Thus began the landfill gas utilization industry. From their experience on these two successful recovery projects and their other landfill gas work, SCS became one of the nation’s leading environmental firms.
Next, the firm designed a solid waste management plan, followed by a hazardous waste management plan, both for the state of Maine. In Seattle, Washington, SCS’s EPA water data management project spurred the use of computers to model water characteristics and stream flows throughout the country. Out of that grew a number of wastewater and water quality-related contracts for the EPA, including calculating the percentage of wastewater in water supplies. The amount of data collected was significant.
Tom Conrad explains:
For each public water supply drawing water from a river downstream from a wastewater treatment plant, the idea was to calculate the percentage of the wastewater in the water at each point. This was “big data” before the phrase was coined.
Current SCS President Jim Walsh describes SCS’s first computer to manage the data. “It had less power than an iPhone today, but it was a powerful computer in its time, and we had a massive amount of data that we would process through it,” he stated. The beginning of data collection performed by SCS for the EPA was an extension of the firm’s water quality and wastewater practice.
SCS’s work in the late 1970s and early 1980s was an outgrowth of a number of federal projects, for example, the Dredged Materials Project for the Corp of Engineers in Vicksburg, Mississippi. SCS professionals developed experience with contaminated sites, leachate, and groundwater pollution. The firm began applying these skills and disciplines to contaminated sites in southern California. SCS conducted a number of projects for public entities and developers where construction was planned for what were the first Brownfields before that term was coined. Basically, SCS was performing Phase I site investigations and Phase II investigations, including groundwater monitoring, soil sampling, and remediation when necessary.
Senior Vice President Mike McLaughlin, who leads the practice, states:
That really was the birth of our Environmental Services practice, which was heavily involved in site characterization, Brownfields development, and redevelopment of contaminated sites, that continues to flourish to this day.
Senior Vice President Bob Gardner further comments:
From our experience in landfill research, we were able to get in on the ground floor of many of the RCRA mandates for containment systems, leachate management, landfill liners, and cover systems. We did a lot of work through the ’80s and ’90s for municipal solid waste landfill permitting and design.
By the late 80’s SCS Engineers had created new practices, under the name SCS Field Services, to perform landfill and landfill gas system construction, operations, monitoring, and maintenance. The firm was proud to offer comprehensive services but knew from their experience that each landfill and solid waste operation is unique. SCS OM&M now operates 24,000 LFG extraction wells and supports over 650 landfills across the nation. SCS Construction is a Class A – General Engineering Contractor with Hazardous Materials Certification. The firm believes that by overlapping design, construction, and operational activities, it has led to the 44 innovations listed as SCS Firsts on their website and saved their clients money.
In 1986, the firm also made a significant and strategic decision to create an employee stock ownership plan.
Tom Conrad explains:
As an ESOP company, our employees own shares in SCS Engineers and all its practices. As founders, we felt that ownership inspires better performance and that our staff deserve control in the decision-making and direction of the company. It has proven to be a successful business model for the firm.
Combining SCS’s expertise in solid waste management, landfills, and regulatory compliance, SCS Energy was created in 2001 to focus on the design and design-build of landfill gas-to-energy (LFGE) systems. SCS now has one of the longest and most successful biogas practices in the United States, primarily in LFGE and digester gas-to-energy (DGE). SCS designs, constructs, and operates more LFGE and DGE facilities than any other engineering firm in the nation.
Growing and expanding its environmental expertise to serve other industries and sectors, the firm now has several specialized practices created along the way, which continue to support businesses and governments.
Tom Conrad feels that among his greatest achievements was the hiring and mentoring of many good people, including Jim Walsh, Mike McLaughlin, and Bob Gardner, in whose capable hands the company continues to grow and thrive. Jim Walsh calls Tom, “The best mentor anyone could ever have.” He went on to say, “Tom taught me a lot, but more, he let me figure things out on my own… I’ve often said that the best four years of education I ever got was not high school or college, it was learning from Tom Conrad 1974 to 1978.”
Over the years, SCS expanded and hired many talented people. They guide the firm, maintaining the founders’ focus on adopting their clients’ environmental challenges as their own and fostering a culture of success for employees by sharing equity ownership. The firm wins multiple awards for its work, helping clients minimize waste generation and effectively manage recycling, collection, and disposal operations, safely clean up contaminated properties or water for reuse, and otherwise find sustainable solutions to environmental challenges.
SCS’s culture attracts professionals with many types of expertise, helping the firm grow organically – it is on track to reach 1,000 employees this year, and has year over year record-breaking revenues. While SCS’s core capabilities are in solid and hazardous waste management, renewable energy, remediation, and environmental compliance, in the last decade, the demand for SCS services expanded into technology, more focus on wastewater and water reuse, composting, sustainable materials management, industrial health & safety, and risk management planning. The firm maintains a deep technical bench, a wide range of industry experts, and vast environmental regulatory systems knowledge that helps clients shorten project timelines and control costs.
Recognizing that industry associations benefit both employees and clients, SCS stays involved and active in hundreds of associations and local communities, serving in leadership roles, funding scholarships, and advancing research.
EREF’s President and CEO, Bryan Staley comments:
Investing in education and high-quality research was paramount to Bob Stearns, one of SCS’s founders, who chaired the Environmental Research and Educational Foundation before his retirement and established the Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Master’s Scholarship. Those values continue, as does SCS Engineers’ partnership with EREF, with continued service on EREF’s Board of Directors via Jim Walsh, leadership on its Research Council through Bob Gardner (who chaired the Council in 2019) and ongoing support and participation by many SCS personnel in EREF research and educational initiatives.
David Biderman, SWANA Executive Director & CEO states, “SCS Engineers has been a leader in SWANA for decades, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the company as we implement our vision to turn waste into a resource.”
SCS is producing technologies and programs that help clients lower operating costs and reduce their environmental impact. The technologies and applications used at landfills are finding footholds in agriculture, industry, and manufacturing as well as municipalities. These advances help achieve infrastructure that runs more efficiently and supports companies transitioning to renewable energy resources while limiting added expense to consumers.
SCS clients entrust the firm with the management of more than 35 million metric tons of anthropogenic CO2e greenhouse gases every year. The firm collects and beneficially uses or destroys enough methane to offset greenhouse gas emissions from 7.4 million passenger cars annually.
These figures do not include the emission reductions achieved by waste diversion, recycling, and repurposing wastes into useful products such as Renewable Natural Gas, compost, or supporting municipal programs that send perfectly edible food to those in need.
“We attribute our success to our loyal clients who entrust us to address the complexities of environmental challenges,” stated Jim Walsh, president, and CEO. “We are proud of our employee-owners who create the technologies, practices, and systems that make a sustainable, positive impact.”
How is SCS Celebrating Its 50th anniversary?
Earth Day is also celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year – the first Earth Day took place just a few weeks after SCS started. Postponing parties and Earth Day events, some celebratory plans continue as the SCS employee-owners celebrate virtually for now with a documentary film, anniversary lapel buttons packaged with hand sanitizer, office plaques, and continued collaboration.
SCS Engineers remains passionate about continuing to provide superior client service and solving the environmental challenges of the 21st Century.
Posted by Diane Samuels at 12:39 pm
3900 Kilroy Airport Way Ste 100
Long Beach, CA 90806-6816