When Doug Doerr got a call from a Colorado-based landfill operator with a hot gas probe at his site’s boundary, Doerr’s day kicked into high gear. Chasing down gas migration problems is nothing new in an SCS client manager’s life, but that reality makes the job no less complex. And in this scenario, he was dealing with a site that he occasionally got called to visit, so to understand the problem fast, he needed the site’s historical data and the current information to fully picture what was happening.
Doerr started with basic landfill gas information from the client: the monitoring probe’s location and a drawing of the gas collection system to determine where the probe was in relation to the gas system. But as you know, that is one small slice of a king-sized pie.
“All the LFG data that I would typically wade through to identify the problem can be overwhelming, but I had a recourse enabling me to get up to speed quickly. It didn’t take long to assess the problem,” he says. That recourse is a combination of quick teamwork from his peers nationwide and sophisticated technology developed by SCS practitioners for landfill owners and operators.
“I queried our in-house landfill gas technical group (engineers, geotechnical experts, and field personnel). And got over 25 responses within several hours with suggestions, one of which came from Ken Brynda in SCS Field Services, who leveraged DataServices to help me identify and narrow down the potential cause of the problem,” recalls Doerr.
DataServices, a module of the SCS eTools® digital platform, collects, stores, manages and analyzes large volumes of continuously accumulating landfill gas data for individual sites or multiple landfills. The module provides a quick method to view landfill gas scenarios.
The beauty of it is that it generates maps and charts to visualize every well and every probe. These system components are viewed in relation to one another and in relation to the perimeter, where the methane on that Colorado site flowed. Further, SCS Field Services’ landfill gas gurus, such as Ken Brynda, plug-in specific parameters that keep a close watch on any well or a group of wells.
“I logged into DataServices and pulled data from the five wells closest to the hot probe, which showed we had vacuum, flow, and gas quality, indicating the wells were pulling hard enough. I shared the results with our landfill gas technical group responders in a table and range map I’d created. And they started chiming in,” Brynda recalls.
As responders viewed initial results from their respective bases around the country, Brynda churned out more information in a few hours, running point charts to capture the balance gas, methane, flow, temperature, supply vacuum, and the vacuum applied to each well. He looked for trends that narrow down cause and point to solutions.
Eliminating the Possibilities – Rule Out Well System Malfunctions
“It can take days if we’d had to do it the old school way with spreadsheets laid out in a lot of rows. But we could identify the potential problem in a matter of hours, backed by a comprehensive evaluation for the landfill operator in eight hours,” Doerr says.
When Field Services staff work to solve a problem with a probe, they look for an outlier, something from a group of wells that’s not behaving like the other wells. In this case, Brynda determined that the wells near the hot probe were functioning properly. DataServices eliminated potential problems by slicing through and analyzing large chunks of data confirming the system was working efficiently.
Next, we observed that the wells are likely too far away to pull gas back from waste, adjacent to the probe in question, where there are no wells.
“DataServices helped rule out malfunctions, and that’s a big deal because if you can confirm the landfill system is working properly, you have narrowed your focus and can look toward other possibilities, ultimately leading to corrective options,” Doerr says. Brynda and Doerr suggested putting in temporary wells in that area to avoid odor migration and health and safety issues.
Doerr continues watching the situation and is prepared with a several-point action plan to mitigate exceedances and avoid falling out of compliance. “We continue watching the data to ensure the gas collection system continues to function well. Should there be issues again, we’re able to fully identify the gas migration pathways and anything in the system that looks out of the ordinary,” Doerr says.
If the client decides to add wells in time, data from the expanded infrastructure will be added to the app and monitored. “As the number of wells grows, DataServices grows with it, adding any, and as much, monitoring and collection data as the operator wants. DataServices will always be in the background to monitor, collect and analyze LFG data in real-time, whenever we need it,” he says. Being able to store, organize, dissect and analyze unlimited volumes of information from one location is powerful. And not just because it helps operators identify problems as they are happening, but because it and our teams can support them in looking for trends over time. Keeping an eye on the activities that keep the systems in balance is less costly.
For Doerr, who spends time in the field but longer hours with his clients, DataServices and the ability to interact quickly with experts like Brynda help SCS deliver more value to clients. “As much as I’d love to master DataServices, I need to focus all of my time on my clients’ business and goals; having support from Field Services and DataServices makes us all more efficient.”
Landfill Technologies and Comprehensive Expertise
SCS eTools® and SCS DataServices®, now with SCS MobileTools® for viewing data and charts anywhere; available to pull landfill data into DataServices for analyzing. You can customize and focus on exactly what you need fast. As Doug and Ken emphasize, it’s info that you likely already have, but may not be able to use quickly for troubleshooting.
SCS RMC®, remote monitoring and control of landfill equipment and systems.
SCS Engineers’ newest environmental technology application is for use at solid waste facilities and landfills. These sites require specific monitoring and analyses of groundwater and liquids, landfill gas – LFG, and surface emissions critical to facility infrastructure and the environment.
“We work side-by-side with our clients at hundreds of facilities nationwide. SCS MobileTools® supports operating decisions, whether our client is managing one site or hundreds,” states Pete Carrico, senior vice president and assistant director of SCS Field Services.” The App’s interface gives clients quick access to information that drives critical operating decisions and provides data for corporate directives and landfill gas OM&M programs for regional or national operations.
SCS MobileTools® is the iOS and Android mobile interface for the SCSeTools® platform. Access to data to make informed decisions is especially valuable when technicians are in the field, or operators are working remotely. Landfill and solid waste facility owners, operators, and technicians use the new application to observe system and environmental activity securely and in real-time on a mobile phone or device.
Featuring state-of-the-art technology, SCS MobileTools® provides users the ability to interact with a site or facility data, including site-specific monitoring and exceedance metrics for landfill gas, liquid levels, and surface emissions. Responsive, touch-enabled flow data charting is accessible, illustrating flow targets, reading dates, flow rates, and historical flow data analysis.
When compared year-over-year, generation and disposal trends produce information critical to assessing optimal options and solutions that represent significant savings for landfill gas Operations, Maintenance & Monitoring – OM&M programs. For this reason, the savings compound for regional or national operators.
For instance, monitoring and analyzing landfill gas generation and collection data against modeled estimates are valuable information. SCS MobileTools® handles the input, analysis, review, and export of landfill gas flow and related information, specifically flow rates, impacts on gas collection (e.g., extraction well liquid levels), and analytical data for data collection points.
In SCS’s release pipeline, SCS MobileTools® will include mapping and visualization functions in early 2021. SCS MobileTools® is available for download on the Apple App Store for iPhones and iPads, Google Play for Android.
On Veterans Day 2019, we decided to interview one of our very own Veterans at SCS! Wesley Pate joined SCS Engineers in August 2018, as a Senior Technician in our Field Services OM&M Business Unit. Wesley graduated from Auburn University where he studied Agriculture and Soils, which is what sparked his interested in getting into environmental services. He joined the Army National Guard in 2013, as a Platoon Leader where he was deployed to Afghanistan and Kuwait. As a Platoon Leader, he was responsible for the rating and professional development of 38 soldiers. He returned home safely in July 2018, and started his search for a career in Environmental services and found his home at SCS Engineers! As a Senior Technician, he supports our Landfill Gas Collection Systems by conducting monthly well field monitoring on 5 of our landfills in Alabama where he performs maintenance and repairs on the blower and skid as well as troubleshooting the systems.
What is it that attracted you to SCS?
The position was close to what I did before I was deployed. Just the comfort of coming in and already knowing people working here was great. I was familiar with SCS from my prior experience with my previous employer, and it just seemed like a better environment. I liked the way things run at SCS – they did things the way I wanted to do them. Before, if I had a problem, I would have to call someone else to fix it instead of doing it myself. Now I have the freedom to do the monitoring, the troubleshooting, and the repairs all myself as needed. And if I need help, they have the resources to assist. I appreciate the structure in landfill gas with SCS because it’s very professional. And I like that!
What is your favorite part of working at SCS?
The flexibility! Every day it seems like I’m learning something new! When I work with guys from another region, I always learn something from them. I’m constantly learning something new! It never gets boring. There’s always something new coming up, always a new challenge. It tests my brain to figure things out. It’s very rewarding once you do fix something, and it works out. It’s a feeling like “Hey! This actually works, and we found the issue to fix it.” If the clients are happy, then I’m happy with myself.
What would you say is your biggest contribution to SCS?
That’s a tough one! I guess anytime I feel I’m helping the team. If someone needs help, and I’m able to assist them, and I’m contributing to the team rather than being a burden or a headache. If my project manager needs something and I’m able to help him out and take a load off of him, that makes me feel better about my place on the team. If the boss is happy, then everyone’s happy!
Why do you think you’ve been so successful at SCS?
I’ve been set up for success! We have good management and work with great clients. I like that SCS is more of a team environment, and everyone makes an effort, rather than any one company or contractor carrying the weight of the work. Everyone approaches it as a team, and we brainstorm and determine the best way to come up with the solution.
What advice would you give a prospective employee at SCS?
For someone coming into OM&M, stay open-minded, as in, don’t be set in your ways. Be willing to work hard and keep your head down and push through it. The work will get easier as you go on. You will learn every day, and the more you learn, the easier it gets! You will get to spend time with the more experienced SCS employees and learn from them that tasks you thought were challenging, don’t have to be. You will observe an employee who has to do the same thing 100 times, and they will teach you the easiest way to do it!
What do you like to do outside of SCS? Any favorite hobbies?
I love to go bow hunting for whitetail deer in Alabama. I also love doing anything on the water! I have a Bloodhound dog named Reggie, and I love spending time with him.
The SWANA Keystone Chapter has elected Tom Lock of SCS Engineers as Secretary of the Chapter. Tom assumed his new position following the Board of Director’s meeting on September 6, 2018.
Tom continues to provide leadership and representation for the waste management industry and in the use of renewable energy resources such as landfill gas and solar in the region. In his new position, he is responsible for keeping full minutes of all proceedings of the Chapter, its members, directors, and committees, and maintaining Chapter records. Tom will issue notices required by law and SWANA bylaws, prepare and submit required annual, periodic or special reports, and shall perform other duties as requested by the Board of Directors. He is a SWANA member of over 25 years and regularly participates in regional and national conferences.
Tom, a Project Manager for SCS Engineers, has three decades of experience in environmental field services and project management, with an emphasis on waste industry operations and maintenance. He manages the SCS Engineers Harrisburg office and coordinates with the firm’s offices and operations nationwide. Lock’s expertise is in Operations, Maintenance, and Monitoring (OM&M) of environmental control systems. His work involves OM&M of renewable energy resources such as landfill gas using a sophisticated collection, monitoring, and reporting system SCSeTools®.
Our congratulations to Tom and the other newly elected officers.
CQA is essential for ensuring the proper construction of GCCS and meeting the intent of the design, and can help prevent safety mishaps. Even highly experienced design-build teams invest in expert CQA professionals to protect their capital investment, maintain maximum LFG capture through constructed GCCS, and keep operating and maintenance costs in line. It is critical for CQA person-nel to understand the overall intent of the design drawings, current field conditions, long-term conditions, and strict safety protocols. They must also have the expertise to respond to the questions contractors have during construction, especially regarding modifications to the design which will positively impact safety, long-term performance, and maintenance.
Part 1 of the 3-part article series in MSW Magazine discussed essential elements of the piping system in a landfill gas collection and control system (GCCS). The authors examine landfill GCCS design perspective and the benefits of designing landfill gas (LFG) headers outside of the waste boundary. In Part 2, we focus on construction quality assurance (CQA) services and outline the process of taking the design drawings through completion of the CQA report.
Read Part 2 here. Contains link to Part 1.
On October 11, SCS Engineers’ David Hostetter and Phil Carrillo present several case studies during the webinar demonstrating how Remote Control Monitoring (RMC) has lifted the burden of data collection and facilitates the review and analysis of data for use in decision-making.
In this webinar, several case studies regarding remote monitoring and control (RMC) systems for landfill gas and leachate systems will be presented. This includes a description of integrated systems which are used for data collection and analysis and how they were used to identify, troubleshoot and solve real problems in an effective and efficient manner.SCS recognized this as an issue in the industry and developed systems to streamline the process using the latest technology to help perform routine, sometimes complex, data analysis, and to automatically push reports and alerts to operators, engineers, and project managers. This has been a dramatic change that removes human error while reviewing pages of data and allows people to focus on what really matters.
RMC systems give the ability to:
Watch Dave’s video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYezcobr1Cg
Dave explains how landfill owners/operators use SCS RMC® to view, operate, and control field equipment. The presentation covers how SCS RMC® helps to reduce operating costs – sending technicians to respond when necessary to alerts from flare systems, leachate systems, and air quality sensors. SCS helps manage all field resources and personnel better while enhancing reporting and data management too.
Register for the EREF webinar here: https://erefdn.org/event/remote-monitoring-and-automating-processes-at-landfills/
SCSeTools® gives you the ability to instantly map air leaks, vacuum distribution, wells that are “over pulling” and wells that are underutilized – valuable tools for every wellfield technician to maximize system performance beyond simple compliance tracking and reactive wellhead tuning.
As a field technician, you walk a fine line – tuning to a threshold, pulling as hard as you can, as safe as you can. When important data factors start to wander you need to troubleshoot quickly to keep collecting as much as gas as possible without over compensating and adjusting wellheads multiple times. SCSeTools® makes troubleshooting faster and more efficient by turning your data into maps identifying important conditions in the field and the wellheads that need tuning. Field technicians know how to balance the wellfield without killing bacteria and without diluting the gas.
A map of your field with your specific tuning range quickly shows data that are typically missed in reams of data. SCSeTools alerts you to these indicators using a map of each wellhead in the wellfield. Where you formerly needed months for these changes to become apparent, SCSeTools tells you at the touch of a button when a change began occurring and which wellheads are impacted. As a technician you know what you need to tune and which wellheads need your attention.
Using SCSeTools pick any parameter that the GEM collects and create custom ranges or use specified guidelines to quickly identify trends throughout the landfill. Tuning ranges can be adjusted to specific conditions found at individual landfills. Smooth a saw tooth collection pattern and learn from your data for maximum vacuum and maximum collection without risk.
Last year Tom Barham, SCS Engineers’ General Counsel and Field Services Construction Director made headlines at SCS with his admission to the United States Supreme Court Bar. We are extremely proud of Tom!
This month Tom had the opportunity to have lunch with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as part of a fireside chat sponsored by the Association of Corporate Counsel. The discussion was led by Ted Olsen, a former Solicitor General of the United States who has argued 62 cases before the Supreme Court.
Justice Ginsburg was remarkably open and candid about her career and generous with her advice, including sharing advice from her mother in law on how to have a successful marriage, which she noted as “the best advice she ever received.”
As a pioneer in women’s rights and civil rights in America, Justice Ginsburg was involved in many important cases as an advocate and a judge. Asked about which cases stood out, she recalled a case challenging Virginia Military Institute’s (VMI) male only cadet policy. She noted that this was one case Mr. Olsen lost 7-1 and the one vote he got was from Justice Scalia who was already was on VMI’s side and needed no more advocacy to secure his opinion. (According to Mr. Olsen, RBG is known for her “wicked sense of humor”.) The case was memorable not for its legal precedent, but because of correspondence from the family of a female cadet. The female cadet’s father, a Marine and VMI graduate, wrote Justice Ginsburg to thank her for helping to create the opportunity for his daughter to attend VMI.
Subsequently, another letter from the daughter arrived with a Keydet pin which the daughter received upon graduation. The pin traditionally is given to the mother of the graduate, but since the cadet’s mother passed away before her graduation, the cadet sent it to Justice Ginsburg explaining that the Justice was like the grandmother to her and all future generations of female cadets. Justice Ginsburg keeps the letter and pin on her desk at the Supreme Court.
On how to have a successful marriage, Justice Ginsberg’s mother in law advised that it is best sometimes to be deaf to things you don’t want to hear, and handed her a pack of earplugs. Justice Ginsburg explained she has found that advice very helpful, choosing to be deaf to unpleasant things sometimes said.
“When you think about it, it was remarkable to have an opportunity to have lunch with a sitting Supreme Court Justice,” said Tom. “I even had an opportunity to ask for her advice on teaching fundamentals of the Constitution and our legal system to the international students in the class I teach in the University of Maryland Graduate School of Civil Engineering. Maybe I can get The Notorious RBG to guest lecture next semester?”
About Tom Barham
Mr. Barham is SCS Engineers General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Construction Services. He is a member of the Virginia and District of Columbia bars, and holds a degree in building construction. He has over 30 years of experience in construction and construction law.
Mr. Barham provides SCS Field Services with expertise in construction management, including procurement, scheduling, budgeting, and estimating, as well as other contract formation and administration activities.
Mr. Barham has directed several full service (design/build) projects and has been involved in numerous projects such as Landfill Gas (LFG) collection systems (blower/flare stations, extraction wells, horizontal collection trenches, header lines, and condensate collecting/containment systems); groundwater pump and treat systems (stripping towers, recharge galleries, groundwater wells, deep recharge wells, collection/distribution piping, and pump stations); bio-treatment facilities (containment areas, moisture/nutrient application, and soil mixing); underground storage tanks (excavation, testing, triple rinse, and restoration); soil vapor extraction systems (cat/ox treatment facilities, vapor extraction wells, collection header lines, and air make-up wells).
Long story short, an escapee from San Quentin and any uncontrolled methane air molecule may be more similar than we may presume. In fact, a common LDAR practice is to use an infrared imaging camera; similar to the camera often used in search of fugitive criminals.
On a serious note, fugitive emissions are something that both industry and regulators have been focused on for decades, and the past and present efforts made to limit them are no less than remarkable.
Specific to Onshore Oil and Gas Exploration & Production, the Federal Regulations applicable to fugitive emissions are fairly young. Finalized in 2012, NSPS OOOO is no longer a toddler and is in the middle of growing into NSPS OOOOa (Public Comment Deadline March 11, 2016). On a national scale, NSPS OOOOa will expand fugitive emission monitoring and control requirements (VOC’s and methane) to several facility types associated with the industry and is expected to be finalized before the close of 2016.
In California, fugitive emissions from Onshore Oil and Gas Exploration & Production have been regulated for a long time. In fact, the O&G industry in Santa Barbara County has dealt with fugitive emission requirements since 1979. Since then SCS Engineers has been assisting with fugitive emission monitoring for our valued clients. Today, SCS Engineers provides the Oil and Gas Exploration and Production industry with efficient and effective LDAR services.
So fear not, SCS Engineers is ready to supply the knowledge and skill set you need to stay compliant, maintain your operations, and respect your bottom line. Remember, unless the doors are closed, pumps are turned off, and equipment is flushed and plugged; fugitive emissions requirements and LDAR will likely still apply.
Applicability: Determining Federal vs. State oversight is the first step. Non-Major Source Oil and Gas Production facilities are either subject to NSPS OOOO (soon to be OOOOa) or a related State specific rule (i.e. Colorado Regulation 7). Once oversight is determined, then there may still be exemptions for your facility (i.e. facility constructed before August 23, 2011). And finally, once regulatory oversight is confirmed and you determine that LDAR is required for your facility, then the last step is to figure out which equipment is applicable (i.e. VOC content > 10% by weight). Basically, an applicability determination can be daunting.
Equipment: EPA’s Method 21 is historically and currently referenced in all LDAR regulations. Method 21 requires an instrument such as the Flame Ionization Detector (FID) or Photo Ionization Detector (PID). More recently the Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) Camera has been included in LDAR regulations and utilized in LDAR programs. Presently, there are several instrument technologies that exist and are in the works, but not yet mainstream in Oil and Gas sector. Ultimately, if you were to find yourself conducting LDAR monitoring at your oil and gas facility tomorrow per an established regulation, you would most likely need to use an FID or OGI.
Recordkeeping: Personally, I like the simplicity of using paper forms for field notes; however, the old-fashioned way comes with risk. The up-front and ongoing data involved with an LDAR program is too much for maintaining a paper to computer process, regardless of how organized you think you are. Therefore, a computer database platform is recommended and necessary for managing your LDAR recordkeeping. Beyond just recordkeeping, a database platform can organize schedules, alerts, generate reports, extract trends, and many other applications to help keep your LDAR program compliant. One such platform worth considering is SCSeTools™. This cloud-based software can provide the database capabilities used on the desktop, but almost more importantly, provides mobile data input capabilities with the SCS MobileTools™ application fit for Android and IOS systems. Keep the fugitives from escaping, and document containment for the authorities!
About Lucas Marsalek: Lucas has been an Environmental Consultant for over 8 years; he applies his expertise as a leader for oil and gas production environmental and regulatory compliance projects. Marsalek has a B.S. in Forestry and Natural Resource Management from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA.
Learn more on the SCS service pages and read SCS project case studies from across the nation to help fine tune your program.
Outside links to the EPA proposed rulemaking website:
SALT LAKE CITY, UT. – SCS Engineers recently announced the opening of a new office near Salt Lake City, expanding services to clients in the Western region of the U.S. The new office is located at:
SCS Engineers | SCS Field Services
1952 West Parkway Boulevard,
West Valley City, UT 84119
SCS continues to provide environmental engineering and consulting services to municipal and private sector clients, and has expanded the range of its SCS Field Services Division to provide clients in Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Montana with a variety of landfill, landfill gas (LFG), and landfill gas to energy (LFGTE) services, including LFG collection and control system operations, monitoring, and maintenance services.
SCS also offers SCSeTools®, a platform for data management software used at landfills to improve operational safety, data collection, and analysis to meet the new EPA compliance rule. SCSeTools currently features SCS DataServices®, SCS Remote Monitoring and Control®, and SCS MobileToolsTM and is in use at over 600 landfills nationwide. The unique combination of high-level technical engineering services with practical, hands-on operations expertise, including compliance data management is not typically available from other environmental engineering firms.
“Our intent is to continuously expand our support to clients in these states,” said Galen Petoyan, Senior Vice President of SCS Field Services OM&M Division. “We continue to use highly-skilled professionals with plenty of field experience, and our ability to analyze a landfill’s data has helped us become even more dependable and cost-effective on closed and active landfills.”