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

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

It was a “souper” Thursday at Encorus!

It was a “souper” Thursday at Encorus!

Every year at Encorus, we have a soup and chili cookoff at our Springville and Buffalo offices.  This year at the Springville office, Doug Acquard defended his title and gets to hold on to the coveted Golden Ladle trophy for another year.  In Buffalo, Jeremy Lake was able to overthrow incumbent Mike O’Neill.  A good time was had by all, and no one went away hungry!

Doug Acquard won the 2019 Soup and Chili Cookoff at the Springville Office

Doug Acquard, 2019 Springville Office Soup & Chili Cookoff Winner

Jeremy Lake Won the Buffalo Office Soup & Chili Cookoff

Jeremy Lake, 2019 Buffalo Office Soup & Chili Cookoff Winner

People wait to sample the selection of soups and chili at the Springville office.

People wait to sample the selection of soups and chili at the Springville office.

Encorus Group's Springville office enjoys the 2019 Soup and Chili Cookoff

Encorus Group’s Springville office enjoys the 2019 Soup and Chili Cookoff


Fun Fact Friday: Life Safety Code Evaluations and Assessments

Fun Fact Friday: Life Safety Code Evaluations and Assessments

We hear the term “life safety” often in the architectural and engineering world, but what does it mean to everyday people?

Life safety is all about protecting yourself and others through common sense and engineering design. That may seem like a broad subject to discuss, but think of it in terms of survival. Ask yourself this: if you and your family were at the beach and it said “shark infested waters”, would you go in the water? The same approach should be considered for buildings. The common sense part tells you if there is only one way out of a large building, don’t go in it.

Life safety codes and standards are the result of years of tragedy and disaster. Some may call them lessons learned, but historically, changes to how we design, build, and function in a building are the results of major events that have taken many lives. Even today, these types of tragedies occur simply because people aren’t aware of the hazards that exist in their surroundings.

Life safety impacts every type of structure including homes, office buildings, and industrial facilities. There are many aspects to life safety which most people do not understand, and that is the main reason we have codes and standards to provide us with the best and safest design.

Code evaluations are used in the design process to build or refurbish a building. The evaluation determines what the hazards are, what the fire severity risk is, and how to provide a safe environment should a fire occur. Factors that come in to play include:

• Heat and how fast it rises in temperature
• Smoke and how it travels
• Hazards of how fast they react to fire

Below are examples demonstrating how evaluations are applied:

1. A business with 200 employees requires a lot of space. First, the code looks at the classification of occupancy. From there, the size and shape of the building is considered. If the building is a single floor, exits must be provided so people have the choice of at least two directions to travel. The travel distance to an exit is also regulated, and is impacted by the fire severity factor. The higher that factor is, the faster the fire and smoke are assumed to travel. A business with a low severity factor can have travel distance up to 300 feet. In some cases with a high fire severity risk, the required maximum travel distance of 100 feet may require that more exits be installed in the building.

2. An industrial facility may have hazards which restrict the number of occupants and the travel distance. For example, a facility processing flammable liquids may be restricted to a travel distance of 50 feet, and require fire detection and suppression systems to be installed.

Life safety assessments are performed to ensure that the original design features still provide the level of protection designed for that building. Many times, a commercial building will change ownership and with the change, new hazards will be introduced. How will these changes impact life safety? Have new walls gone up that block an exit or extend the travel distance past the allowable limit? Anyone that owns a business should make it a point to assess their property every year. Sometimes the simplest things can have a major impact on life safety.

To make you think more about life safety in your home, here are some questions to consider:

1. How hot can the ceiling temperature in a living room get when a fire occurs?
A. 100° F
B. 600° F
C. 1500° F

2. How much time do you have to escape a house fire?
A. 17 minutes
B. 3 to 4 minutes
C. 30 minutes

3. Where can you safely store a can of gasoline?
A. In your basement
B. In your garage
C. In your he or she shed

4. How do you put of a kitchen stove top pan fire?
A. Throw water on it
B. Put a lid on the pan
C. Carry the pan outside

If you have any questions about life safety or require a life safety code evaluation or assessment, please contact Encorus Group’s Fire Protection Engineer John Allan at (716) 592-3980, ext. 127, or

The answers to the above questions are: 1. C, 2. B, 3. C, 4. B

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

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 For more information about our Mechanical Integrity Group, please visit

Fun Fact Friday: Non-Destructive Testing Methods for Steel Pipes

Fun Fact Friday: Non-Destructive Testing Methods for Steel Pipes

Non-destructive testing (NDT), also known as non-destructive examination (NDE), is an extremely useful tool for completing inspections without damaging the equipment being inspected. The purpose of these tests is to detect the location, size, shape, and development trend of internal or external defects. One of the types of equipment that benefits greatly from this kind of testing is steel pipe.

Depending on the variety of steel pipe, a variety of different NDT methods can prove useful.

Ultrasonic testing is one of the most popular methods for testing steel pipe. In this method of testing, ultra-high frequency sound is introduced into the part being inspected. If the sound hits any flaws or discontinuities, some of the sound will be reflected at a unique rate. By knowing the speed of the sound through the part and the time required for the sound to return to the sending unit, the flaw or discontinuity can be located.

Radiography, both film and computerized digital, is another popular testing method. Radiographic tests are performed by placing a test object between a source of penetrating radiation and a recording medium such as silver bromide film.

Magnetic Particle Testing is another method of testing, this method is performed by using one or more magnetic fields to locate discontinuities in the surface or near-surface of ferromagnetic materials. The magnetic fields used for testing can be applied by either permanent magnets or electromagnets, and are usually used in conjunction with very fine colored ferromagnetic particles, which are visibly drawn into discontinuities by the magnetic forces acting upon them.

Liquid Penetrant Testing, another popular method of testing, involves the application of a very low viscosity liquid to the surface of the part being tested. Due to the low viscosity of the fluid, it easily penetrates flaws and discontinuities in the pipe, and when the excess penetrant is removed and the penetrant trapped in the imperfections flows back out, and indication has been created that marks the location of the flaw or discontinuity.

Visual testing is frequently used as a method of evaluating imperfections. This method of testing can be performed using unenhanced vision, but also may be performed with the aid of optical instruments such as magnifying glasses, mirrors, boroscopes, charge-coupled devices, and/or computer-assisted viewing systems. Many forms of damage to steel pipes can be detected via visual testing inspections. This form of testing is also used in conjunction with most other forms of testing, as a visual evaluation occurs as a side effect of performing other tests.

If you need non-destructive testing services for steel pipe or other equipment, Encorus can provide the solutions you need. Contact our Director of NDE, Jim Handzlik, at 716.592.3980 ext. 148 or

Encorus Fall Family Picnic 2019

Here at Encorus, we take company culture seriously!  This year marked our 7th annual Fall Family Picnic, where employees and their families are invited to share a meal, play some games, have some fun, and get to know each other outside of work.  We wanted to share some photos with you!

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 For more information about our Testing and Inspection Group, please visit