Fun Fact Friday: NEPA Review

Fun Fact Friday: NEPA Review

One of the several environmental services that Encorus offers is a NEPA review. NEPA is a very important component in the environmental engineering field, but many non-environmental engineers may not know what NEPA is in the first place, let alone if they need a NEPA review. This article will explain what NEPA is and why it is important in environmental engineering.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970. Using the NEPA process, agencies evaluate the environmental and related social and economic effects of their proposed actions. Agencies also provide opportunities for public review and comment on those evaluations. Before NEPA was established, federal agencies were missions focused, to get goals accomplished as quickly as possible, with no required regard for environmental impacts.

NEPA requires that federal agencies evaluate environmental impacts of projects by preparing Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). These documents establish positive and negative impacts of a project on the environment. This information is used by agencies in establishing a number of alternatives to successfully reach the project goals. These alternatives can lead to the project being abandoned, if no suitable alternatives are acceptable to the agencies involved.

The public is included in this process by commenting on proposed projects. These can be submitted comments, or can be by public hearing. This gives people the ability to voice concerns or support for projects that would impact their lives, jobs, and environment. The NEPA process can be confusing and time consuming and it is recommended that you work closely with the consultants and government agencies involved.

If you are interested in learning more about the National Environmental Policy Act, or are curious if your project requires a NEPA review, please contact Encorus’s Environmental Engineer, Mary Padasak, at (716) 592-3980 ext. 144, or mpadasak@encorus.com.

Fun Fact Friday: Liquid Penetrant Testing

Fun Fact Friday: Liquid Penetrant Testing

This week’s Fun Fact Friday will focus on Liquid Penetrant Testing (LPT) and Examination, one of the Non-Destructive Examination (NDE) inspection services that Encorus Group offers. LPT is used to detect discontinuities that are on the surface of ferromagnetic (materials that are attracted to magnets) or non-ferromagnetic materials. This type of testing is one of the most widely used NDE inspection methods in the construction industry and any other situation where the surface of materials could be subject to discontinuities.

The Liquid Penetration Inspection process involves six main steps:
1.) Pre-cleaning – Any dirt, paint, oil, or loose scale must be removed from the surface of the material
2.) Application of penetrant – Liquid penetrant is applied to the part of the material being tested
3.) Excess penetrant removal – Any excess penetrant is removed from the surface of the part
4.) Application of developer – White developer is applied to the material being tested
5.) Inspection – Visible light with adequate intensity is used for the visible dye penetrant inspection
6.) Post cleaning – After the inspection and recording of results, the material surface should be cleaned

If you have a project that needs Liquid Penetrant Testing and Examination services, please contact Jeremy Lake at (716) 592-3980 ext. 133, or jlake@encorus.com.

Fun Fact Friday: Computed Radiography vs Traditional Radiography

Fun Fact Friday: Computed Radiography vs Traditional Radiography

Radiography is one of the several methods of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) offered by the skilled technicians at Encorus. There are two different methods of conducting a radiography test: computed radiography and traditional radiography. Computed radiography is the more modern of the two processes, and has several advantages over traditional radiography. To understand how computed radiography is better than traditional radiography, it is important to know how radiography works.

Radiographic testing (RT), commonly known as radiography, is a method of non-destructive examination which uses either x-rays or gamma rays to see inside the component or specimen, creating a hard copy image of the item. RT is used to inspect welds, machined parts, pipes, vessels and tanks, concrete, plate metal, and ceramics. Much like a medical x-ray or x-ray security screening at the airport, RT can reveal irregularities or defects within the object being examined without damaging it. A trained radiographer can locate a defect as well as identify its type, size and location based on subtle variations in the film density. Both computed and traditional radiography use X-rays and gamma rays; however, there are several differences in the procedures that follow.

According to DÜRR NDT, “in computed radiography, when imaging plates are exposed to X-rays, or gamma rays, the energy of the incoming radiation is stored in a special phosphor layer. A specialized machine known as a scanner is then used to read out the latent image from the plate by stimulating it with a very finely focused laser beam. When stimulated, the plate emits blue light with intensity proportional to the amount of radiation received during the exposure. The light is then detected by a highly sensitive analog device known as a photomultiplier (PMT) and converted to a digital signal using an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). The generated digital X-ray image can then be viewed on a computer monitor and evaluated. After an image plate is read, it is erased by a high-intensity light source and can immediately be re-used. Imaging plates can typically be used 1000 times or more depending on the application”.

The main advantages of computed radiography are that the imaging plates are reusable, no darkroom or chemicals are needed, the time required for exposure and processing of the image is reduced, digital information can be easily exchanged and archived, it presents a safer working environment for operators, and it is more environmentally friendly.

The computed radiography process is faster and more efficient, and presents a more environmentally friendly work atmosphere. Overall, computed radiography is the superior option when compared to traditional radiography. It offers a safer and more effective method to determining if a piece of material should be repaired or closely monitored. If you require computed radiography services or other NDE testing, please contact Jeremy Lake at (716) 592-3980 ext. 133, or jlake@encorus.com.

Fun Fact Friday: What Are API Certifications and Why Are They Important?

Fun Fact Friday: What Are API Certifications and Why Are They Important?

The American Petroleum Institute, or API for short, is a national trade association which represents all facets of the natural gas and oil industry. By providing standards, recommendations, and certifications, the API helps regulate the practices used in the industry and in the maintenance of the corresponding equipment. The certifications offered by the API are useful for verifying the knowledge and experience of both inspection personnel and technical personnel, ensuring that these professionals are aware of and performing in accordance with industry inspection codes. Included among these certifications are:

• API 1169 – Pipeline Construction Inspector
• API 510 – Pressure Vessel Inspector
• API 570 – Piping Inspector
• API 571 – Corrosion and Materials
• API 577 – Welding Inspection and Metallurgy
• API 580 – Risk Based Inspection
• API 653 – Aboveground Storage Tank Inspector
• API 936 – Refractory Personnel
• API QUPA – Qualification of UT Examiners (Phased Array)
• API QUSE – Qualification of UT Examiners (Sizing)
• API QUSEPA – Qualification of UT Examiners (Crack Sizing)
• API QUTE – Qualification of UT Examiners (Detection)
• API QUTETM – Qualification of UT Examiners (Thickness Measurement)
• API SIEE – Source Inspector – Electrical Equipment
• API SIFE – Source Inspector – Fixed Equipment
• API SIRE – Source Inspector – Rotating Equipment
• API TES – Tank Entry Supervisor

Choosing certified inspectors for your facilities and equipment can be vastly beneficial to ensuring a higher quality of inspection and to avoiding inaccurate evaluations and the consequences that could result. If an unqualified worker attempts to evaluate equipment, the resulting inaccuracy could cause significant financial harm or cause safety hazards for workers. API certifications hold employees to a high degree of knowledge and skill, as is to be expected from a widely respected trade association, allowing facility managers to rest assured that their facilities are being inspected by certified individuals able to provide a high standard of quality in their evaluations.

Encorus Group has several inspectors in our Mechanical Integrity Group with various API certifications, including API 510, API 570, and API 653.

If you have a need for API Inspections, please contact Director of Mechanical Integrity Services Keith Taylor at (716) 592-3980, ext. 143, or at ktaylor@encorus.com. For more information about our Mechanical Integrity Group, please visit https://www.encorus.com/mechanical-integrity-inspection/.

Fun Fact Friday: Qualifications and Importance of Certified Welding Inspectors

Fun Fact Friday: Qualifications and Importance of Certified Welding Inspectors

A certified welding inspector must have a combination of qualifying education and work experience, with documentation to support. According to the American Welding Society, to become a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI), an individual must have both adequate education and sufficient experience. Various levels of education are interchangeable with some years of experience, but by requiring a combination, the certification process ensures that a welder has the knowledge and capability to provide services without fail.

An individual meeting the education and experience criteria is able to apply for and take a Certified Welding Inspector exam. The application must be mailed at least six weeks before taking the exam, and many candidates choose to complete welding inspector training courses to help them prepare for and pass the exam. The exam itself is divided into 3 parts: fundamental knowledge, practical evaluation, and codebook navigation.

The fundamental knowledge section of the exam includes information on various welding processes, heat control & metallurgy, weld examination, welding performance, terminology, relevant welding and non-destructive examination (NDE) symbols, NDE methods, documentation, safety, destructive testing, cutting, brazing and soldering. Succeeding in this section of the exam proves that a welding inspector has the necessary levels of knowledge.

The exam also includes a practical evaluation section, where a welding inspector must demonstrate skill in procedure and welding, mechanical testing and determining properties, welding inspection and determining flaws, non-destructive examination, and utilization of drawings and specifications.

The third and final section of the exam, codebook navigation and applications, is exactly as it sounds. In this section a potential welding inspector must prove their ability to navigate various code books and apply the various codes as required by a project. This skill is critical to ensuring that welding inspections will be completed in compliance with regulations and will be able to adequately ensure the safety of people in the vicinity of the equipment having been welded.

Additionally, anyone seeking a certification must pass a vision test, to ensure they are able to adequately visually inspect welds.

Becoming a Certified Welding Inspector is a complex and challenging process, but this ensures that welding inspection services are provided to a high standard of quality.

If you have a need for Certified Welding Inspections, please contact Jeremy Lake at (716) 592-3980, ext. 133, or at jlake@encorus.com. For more information about our Testing and Inspection Group, please visit https://www.encorus.com/civil-materials-testing/.

Fun Fact Friday: The Importance of Floor Flatness and Levelness Testing

Fun Fact Friday: The Importance of Floor Flatness and Levelness Testing

Floor Flatness and Floor Levelness can be critical to the safety of people and equipment, especially in areas with high foot and equipment traffic. Imagine walking on a rough, uneven sidewalk. You might stub your toe, scuff your shoes, or trip and fall. The same is true on a larger scale for concrete floors in industrial structures. When personnel are working on rough, uneven floors, workers might hurt themselves, equipment takes on unnecessary wear, and dangerous accidents become far more likely.

Warehouses are one example where the quality of flooring can have a significant effect on safety and productivity. Having flat, level floors allows lift trucks to operate at higher maximum speeds, reduces potential for damage to stock, and creates a smoother environment to reduce wear on lift trucks and similar equipment. Well-made floors also help reduce health and safety risks such as driver fatigue or tilting equipment, resulting in falling machinery or products.

Both Floor Flatness, denoted by an FF number, and Floor Levelness, denoted by an FL number, are evaluated through regulated procedures, and compared to standard allowances to determine if variations are at an acceptable level.

Floor Flatness is the measure of how bumpy or smooth the finished surface of a floor is. The flatness is a statistical measurement of how wavy or bumpy a concrete floor is. Individual measurements are taken at points every twelve inches along a line, and the differences between each adjacent point are calculated, along with the mean and standard deviations of the differences. A bumpy or uneven floor can result in injury to personnel, anything from a stubbed toe to a dangerous fall. It can also result in damage to equipment or damage to product from jarring motions created by the uneven floor. For these reasons it is critically important to ensure that floor flatness is at an acceptable level.

Floor Levelness is the measure of the inclination of the floor compared to its design inclination. The levelness is measured by using the difference in elevation between two points far apart. It is critical to ensure that floors are level within reasonable variation, especially in situations involving tall equipment and narrow aisles. Even a slight variation in floor levelness could result in tall equipment losing its balance or colliding with shelves in a narrow aisle, potentially causing harm to personnel or damage to products and equipment.

There are detailed standard procedures for these evaluations to help ensure the safety of personnel, equipment, and products. These testing procedures can help prevent hefty lawsuits or expenses due to equipment and product loss.

Encorus Group offers high quality testing services for floors, as well as many other aspects of construction and industry. If your construction site has floors that require flatness and levelness testing, contact Jeremy Lake at (716) 592-3980 ext. 133, or jlake@encorus.com.

Thanks to our summer intern Mara for providing this article!