Many levels of government have their own sets of environmental regulations and permit requirements applicable to business owners, land developers, and more. On a federal level, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) operates to regulate environmental interactions across the country. On a state level, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) operates to preserve the environment in our state.
Compliance with environmental regulations is a critical component of operation in any industry. Not only are they often required in order for a business to legally operate, but in addition, many existing regulations serve to protect a business’s reputation and the health and safety of its workers. Additionally, in today’s society, where environmental responsibility is becoming a consumer consideration, being found in violation of regulations can be detrimental to business efforts as a result of consumer boycotts and slander.
The US EPA and the NYS DEC have three major State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) general permits required for activities associated stormwater discharges.
In the case of many industrial activities, a Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities (MSGP) is required to address stormwater runoff. In order to obtain this permit, a facility must have Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) and monitor their activities as required per their industry to submit for annual reports to the DEC. Most SWPPPs are written documents describing the pollution prevention practices and activities to be implemented on the site for each major phase of the planned activity.
SWPPPs are also required to obtain a General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities. This permit is required for the undertaking of any construction activities which will disturb one of more acres of soil.
In urban areas a federal regulation known as Stormwater Phase II requires permits for stormwater discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s). Any individual or corporation seeking a permit is required to have an adequately developed Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) and submit annual reports to the DEC.
Additionally, a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) is required in order for a government agency to approve permits or propose projects when environmental impacts are possible. This review is important in legally protecting the agency undertaking the project, as failure to comply with SEQR requirements allows citizens or groups who are able to demonstrate that they may be harmed by the failure to take legal action against the agency.
Most environmental permits have complex and dynamic processes both to fill the necessary requirements and to provide adequate documentation and verification to the appropriate government agency. These processes can be confusing and lengthy if undertaken without suitable knowledge, which can threaten a business’s ability to perform and earn revenue. This makes expert knowledge critical in successfully acquiring permits to get a facility up and running in a timely manner and allow businesses to operate efficiently, safely, and without hassle.
Encorus Group has a strong team of environmental professionals, including engineers, geologists, and technicians who are well versed in navigating various permitting and approval processes, creating SPCC and SWPPP plans, organizing SEQR and NEPA reviews, and completing designs and evaluations for Petroleum Bulk Storage and Chemical Bulk Storage Tanks. These individuals are highly capable and experienced at fulfilling environmental regulation requirements.
If you need environmental compliance or permitting assistance, contact Environmental Engineer Mary Padasak at (716) 592-3980 ext 144 or email@example.com.
Encorus would like to welcome our new Office Assistant, Ashley Slisz! Ashley has over five years of office experience, and when she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and working on DIY projects. She is a Springville native who spends most of her time outdoors with her three adventurous pups. Welcome, Ashley!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to our summer intern Mara for providing this article!
Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) are procedures which have been developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to evaluate environmental issues at a real estate site. These assessments are usually performed when land is changing ownership or usage, but are also occasionally performed for an existing property owner who wants to know the toxic history of the property, or if a regulatory agency suspects toxic conditions on the site.
Environmental Site Assessments are usually performed as part of due diligence requirements. These requirements are regular parts of corporate law. Additionally, these assessments help protect potential property owners. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) holds land owners, lessors, and lenders to be responsible for resolving environmental issues, even if the hazards were the result of activities from a previous property owner. This makes an ESA critical in ensuring that a potential new property does not provide an unexpected risk of liability for decontamination.
A Phase I ESA is a quick, simple, noninvasive report used for the identification of potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities for real estate properties. This assessment is completed by reviewing records, completing a surface-level site inspection, and interviewing owners, occupants, neighbors, and local government officials. The goal of a Phase I ESA is to determine the likelihood that any Recognized Environmental Concerns (RECs) are present, which may then be further investigated through a Phase II ESA. The RECs could be contamination from activities which took place on site or contamination from adjacent properties. Essentially, the Phase I ESA is intended to determine the history of the property and ensure that there are no obvious concerns.
The Phase II ESA is a more invasive assessment which requires collection and testing of soil, groundwater samples, and/or building materials. While the Phase I ESA is more purposed to determine presence or absence of environmental concerns, the purpose of a Phase II ESA is to determine the scale and details of the discrepancies found by the Phase I investigation. This phase of investigation can take a significant amount of time to allow for sampling and testing, as well as any monitoring activities deemed necessary by the Phase I results.
While a Phase II investigation is not always required, performing a Phase II ESA is a good practice, especially for those considering purchasing real estate. Without a Phase II ESA, it is possible that environmental hazards on the property could go unnoticed, and the cost of dealing with removing those hazards often greatly outweighs the cost of the Phase II ESA. This makes the examination extremely helpful in allowing potential real estate buyers to fully understand the liabilities of the property before they make their purchasing decision.
Environmental Site Assessments are unique in their ability to allow property owners and buyers to make more knowledgeable decisions. These activities can prevent massive liabilities for buyers and allow property owners to catch potential problems before they cause massive damage or become harder to resolve.
Encorus Group provides a variety of environmental services, including Phase I and Phase II ESAs. If you need Environmental Site Assessment services, contact Encorus’s Geologist, Andrew Kucserik, at 716.592.3980 ext. 149. or email@example.com.
A pressure vessel is a specially designed container which holds liquids, vapors, or gases at substantially high pressures. These vessels are often used in the petroleum refining and chemical processing industries, but can also be used in the private sector. The term pressure vessel applies to anything subjected to a notable amount of pressure, and includes everything from massive industrial chemical storage tanks, to home hot water tanks, and individual diving cylinders such as scuba tanks, among other things. Some pressure vessels are exposed to external heat sources, either directly or indirectly, and are known as fired pressure vessels. Those not exposed to external heat are known as unfired pressure vessels. However, no matter the size, type, or use, safety regulation is a critical feature in the production and maintenance of a pressure vessel.
Pressure vessels are usually subjected to pressures of at least 15 psig, and often significantly higher, with many vessels exceeding 1000 psig.
Because of this, the vessels must be designed to withstand intense internal pressure without failure, as failure could result in fatal or otherwise costly accidents, including poison gas leaks, fires, suffocations, and even shrapnel-generating explosions. Additionally, failure can cause massive loss of product and affect profits and a company’s ability to operate. In order to better withstand high pressure, coded pressure vessels are often spherical or cylindrical in nature with rounded edges to avoid focusing pressure at any one point. Many vessels are made of steel, and depending on the conditions in the area the vessel will be operating, some are made of composite materials or polymers.
Most pressure vessels are designed to include safety features. Smaller vessels are often created with a “yield before break” design, which allows them to bend or flex before any crack forms or grows in size. Larger vessels are often created with a “leak before burst” which allows for a crack in the vessel to grow and allow the contained substance to escape slowly rather than in one violent, explosive failure. While ideally neither of these situations would occur, having a plan in place to mitigate damages in cases when they cannot be completely prevented is an invaluable safety tool.
Pressure vessels must be constructed and inspected in accordance with any applicable regulatory codes and standards. For the industrial sector, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME, publishes and maintains an International Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code that establishes acceptable margins of safety for this equipment. The ASME Section VIII documents explain in detail the guidelines recommended for ensuring safety. Another important code for ensuring the safety of pressure vessels is API 510, which is a code for the inspection, rating, repair, and alteration of in-service pressure vessels.
Encorus Group offers both design and inspection of pressure vessels. Contact Dana Pezzimenti, PE, for matters pertaining to pressure design at 716.592.3980, ext. 128 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have inspection needs for a pressure vessel, contact Keith Taylor, Encorus’s Director of Mechanical Integrity, at 716.592.3980, ext. 143 or email@example.com.
A special thank you goes out to our summer intern, Mara Gilmartin, for contributing this article.
Encorus Group was honored to receive its fourth consecutive Buffalo Business First Fast Track Award in a ceremony earlier this month. Encorus ranked seventh on the list, up from number 16 last year, with revenue growth of 104.32%. Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to our clients and our employees for keeping us on the fast track to growth!
Encorus is proud to offer guaranteed reliability through our established American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Nuclear Quality Assurance Program (NQA-1).
Lindse Runge, one of Encorus’s Quality Assurance Technicians, gives some insight regarding what the NQA-1 Program is, what she does, and what type of clients would benefit from the program. NQA-1 is a nuclear quality assurance standard for nuclear facilities in the U.S. It relates to the design, construction and operation of such sites, and is a highly-regarded industry standard. ASME NQA-1 was created and is maintained by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). This standard provides requirements and guidelines for the establishment and execution of quality assurance programs during siting, design, construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear facilities. This standard reflects industry experience and current understanding of the quality assurance requirements necessary to achieve safe, reliable, and efficient utilization of nuclear energy, and management and processing of radioactive materials. The standard focuses on the achievement of results, emphasizes the role of the individual and line management in the achievement of quality, and fosters the application of these requirements in a manner consistent with the relative importance of the item or activity.
Lindse’s responsibilities include enforcing and implementing the requirements of Encorus’s QA program, developing / revising documents as required to comply with customer QA requirements and ASME NQA-1 requirements, reviewing customer purchase orders for QA requirements in order to develop plans to implement requirements throughout the project, reviewing Encorus purchase orders for QA requirements to ensure flow-down of customer requirements, participating in audits and surveys, and maintaining project files and documentation to ensure legibility, revision control, and traceability of records.
Encorus has a Quality Assurance Program that conforms to NQA-1 requirements to allow us to supply items and services to nuclear facilities. Clients that would benefit from an NQA-1 Program include the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, nuclear constructors, nuclear fabricators, and nuclear power plants.
If you think you would benefit from Encorus Group’s NQA-1 Program, please contact Quality Assurance Technician Lindse Runge at (716) 592-3980 ext 137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please join us in welcoming Sindy Tang to Encorus’s Design Group! Sindy recently graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from University at Buffalo, and will be joining Encorus Group as an Electrical Engineer. Welcome, Sindy!
Inspections are a key part of any commercial facility, and an important part of maintenance for many personal properties as well. It’s important to ensure that equipment, safety measures, and other important aspects of a structure are in adequate condition to continue to serve their intended purposes. Risk-based inspections are a useful form of evaluation that provide a property or facility owner with insight into the probability and consequences of failure associated with each piece of equipment.
Risk-based inspections are included in the category of business practices known as optimal maintenance, which are procedures designed to maintain systems in ways which maximize a company’s profits and minimize its costs. Risk-based inspections and other optimal maintenance procedures are useful in operating a business as efficiently as possible. Many procedures for risk-based inspection are based on the American Petroleum Institute’s recommended practices, and are performed via nondestructive testing.
A risk-based inspection usually involves 2 key components: a probability of failure analysis and a consequence of failure analysis. Each of these serves a unique role in developing a plan to maximize efficiency.
Probability of Failure (PoF) is the likelihood of a piece of equipment to break at a given time. This information can be important in determining the risk posed by the condition of the equipment and in deciding what inspection intervals to set in order to best monitor the condition of the equipment as time progresses. PoF is calculated using a generic failure frequency based on industry averages, a management system factor based on how well management and labor force are trained to handle both daily activities and emergency procedures, and the overall damage factor, which is the combination of all of the various damage possessed by the equipment at the time of evaluation.
Consequence of Failure evaluations are another part of risk-based inspections, and give the critical aspect of determining the significance of damage that could potentially occur if a piece of equipment were to fail. The evaluation acknowledges all important possibilities, including potential safety hazards, economic damages, and environmental damages. This allows engineers to understand how dangerous a piece of equipment could be when nearing the end of its lifespan.
A major benefit of a risk-based inspection is that it categorizes each piece of equipment by its risks and risk drivers, and is able to better prioritize further inspections and safety measures. Knowing how and when equipment may fail allows employees and management to make safe and educated decisions about how to continue operating equipment at all times, but especially when equipment is approaching the end of its usable lifespan.
If you are in need of a risk-based inspection for your business’s assets, contact Keith Taylor, Director of Mechanical Integrity with Encorus Group, at (716) 592-3980 ext 143 or email@example.com.
Special thanks to our summer intern Mara Gilmartin for this article.
Encorus is in Leeds! Massachusetts, that is.
Employees traveled to the Northampton VA Medical Center in Leeds, MA to assess the condition of masonry, exterior walls, and roofs. The objective of this project is to design for the correction of deficiencies in order to prevent safety issues or service interruptions, and to stop any structural deficiencies from becoming more severe. Vince Roberts and Dan Sullivan are pictured here performing inspections.
Vince Roberts gives a thumbs up as he and Dan Sullivan perform inspections of the roof, masonry, and exterior walls at the Northampton VA Medical Center in Leeds, MA.