Researchers use Biochar to treat arsenic from mine waste

Written by Erin Matthews, Lightsource.ca

Researchers used synchrotron light to determine that plant waste could be an ideal, cost-effective method for preventing arsenic in mine waste from polluting our water.

The mining industry plays a key role in the North American economy and the wider global market. Precious metals like copper are crucial to several industries, including home construction and vehicle manufacturing. While we rely on precious metals for continued innovation, we also need to find ways to prevent environmental contamination from mining.

A program at the University of Arizona is working to reclaim landscapes that have been impacted by mining waste to create a more sustainable mining industry. Its researchers recently published findings on how reducing environmental impacts through remediation processes that are both efficient and cost effective.

Jon Chorover, a professor and head of the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Arizona, wants to clean up acid mine drainage that contains substantial amounts of heavy metals like arsenic and lead. These top priority pollutants are released when rock materials are exposed to oxygen and rain. The toxic compounds can leak into the ground and contaminate water used for drinking and farming, which can be detrimental to human health.

SM beamline
The SM beamline at the CLS that the team used for scanning transmission X-ray microscopic analyses.

“We have a strong interest in being able to treat acid mine drainage to remove the arsenic with something that’s relatively low cost,” said Chorover.

Using beamlines at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan and the SLAC National Accelerator, Chorover and colleagues analyzed the molecular interactions that occur when biochar is introduced to acid mine drainage.

Created naturally when plant matter is burned, biochar can also be engineered. And it may be the perfect solution for the mining industry if the environmental conditions are just right. It’s also a waste product of the logging industry, made from the woody plant materials that are left behind and it can be used as a remedial tool in the presence of iron.

“Synchrotron based X-ray spectroscopy is essential for being able to get a mechanistic understanding of what we can measure in the lab,” Chorover said. “The only way you can really get a handle on the long-term capacity for the material to retain that arsenic is if you know what bonded structures are formed.”

A man standing over scientific equipment
Co-author Dr. Rob Root conducting synchrotron work at SSRL.

Iron, another mineral found in mine drainage, interacts with the biochar to form a crystal-like structure. As these crystals grow, they attract the arsenic — similar to a magnet — and form very tight bonds. This allows the arsenic to be safely removed from the environment.

Using the SM beamline at the CLS, Chorover and his team were able to visualize the surface chemistry of the biochar and reveal the fine details of these complex interactions.

“We saw that biochar is not a perfectly homogenous material, but it actually has patchy locations that are highly reactive to the growth of these crystals and as those crystals grow, they sequester the arsenic,” Chorover said.

Chorover believes their research will provide companies and regulators with the information necessary to maintain the environment and reduce impact on communities located near mining operations.

Heightening the realism of CBRNe training with PlumeSIM

Written by Steven Pike, Argon Electronics

Providing military and civilian responders with access to realistic hands-on training is crucial in ensuring that they are able to confidently handle the challenges of a diverse range of CBRNe incidents.

A common issue for CBRNe instructors however, is how to deliver a training experience that offers the desired combination of authenticity, consistency and effectiveness.

When it comes to chemical or radiological hazards in particular, many trainers can find themselves having to sacrifice realism in favour of safety, or being constrained by logistical, administrative and regulatory considerations which can limit the scope of their exercises.

New innovations in simulator-based technology are now transforming the CBRNe training environment.

Argon Electronics’ wide-area instrumented training system PlumeSIM enables instructors to create flexible scenarios covering a diverse range of radiological releases, chemical warfare agents and hazardous materials.

In contrast to more traditional methods of CBRNe training, which can often rely on a large degree of ‘make-believe’, PlumeSIM provides trainers with the ability to create exercises that replicate real life.

Crucially too, there is the freedom for instructors to determine the parameters of the exercise ahead of time and then, once the training is underway, to focus their attention on observing the movements and actions of their trainees.

Exploring PlumeSIM

PlumeSIM offers the versatility of being used at every stage of the radiological exercise process, from pre-planning to field exercise mode to After Action Review (AAR).

Planning mode

When using PlumeSIM in planning mode, exercises can be set up on any PC or laptop without the need for any system hardware.

Common file format map images can be quickly uploaded and homemade sketches of the training area can also be easily added.

The system’s simple menu configuration enables the source type, quantity, location, nature of the release and desired environmental conditions to be set and adjusted as required.

There is the option to define a plume or hotspot based on a specific substance, CWA, radionuclide or compound.

Specific release characteristics such as direction, duration, deposition and persistence can also be readily implemented.

Table-top mode

In table-top mode, trainees can familiarise with their live-field scenario by using standard gamepad controllers to navigate icons of themselves around an on-screen display of their training area.

At the point that the virtual plume scenario is activated, any contact with a simulated agent will trigger the activation of the trainee’s simulation instrument, with all actions able to be monitored from the control base via a short range radio communications link.

Throughout the training session all trainee movement is recorded and can then be played back at the conclusion of the exercise as part of the after action review (AAR) process.

Field exercise mode

When using the PlumeSIM system in field exercise mode, trainees are equipped with GPS enabled player units that can be monitored from the control base with the use of a long range radio communications link.

Once the virtual plume has been activated, any contact with the simulated source will be indicated on the display of the simulator instrument.

In environments where the conditions may impede the ability to obtain or maintain continuous long range communication, the scenario can also be pre-loaded onto the player unit and activated when required.

After Action Review (AAR)

Capturing trainee error is a vital element of radiological training, but it is an aspect that can be easily overlooked if the instructor’s attention is focused on administering the exercise rather than on observing the student.

With PlumeSIM, trainers are able to record every aspect of their trainees’ movements and play it back at the conclusion of the exercise as part of the AAR process.

Enhanced Live Training provision

In an exciting development for the provision of Live Training, Argon has partnered with Swedish military defence solutions provider Saab AB to integrate PlumeSIM into SaaB’s Gamer interface.

While the initial applications of the enhanced PlumeSIM training system have focused on the detection of CWAs, radiological simulation is also able to be readily supported and can be used in combination with Argon’s wide range of simulated portable survey meters and personal dosimeters.

If you would like to learn more about how PlumeSIM can enhance your existing programmes of CBRNe instruction please download a copy of the PlumeSIM Product Sheet.

 


About the Author

Steven Pike is the Founder and Managing Director of Argon Electronics, a leader in the development and manufacture of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) and hazardous material (HazMat) detector simulators. He is interested in liaising with CBRN professionals and detector manufacturers to develop training simulators as well as CBRN trainers and exercise planners to enhance their capability and improve the quality of CBRN and Hazmat training.

 

Canadian Government Invests $5.1 million of Great Lakes Clean-up Efforts

The Government of Canada recently announced $5.1 million in funding for 46 new projects to protect and restore the Great Lakes through the Great Lakes Protection Initiative in 2020–21.

The Great Lakes Protection Initiative supports projects that address key Great Lakes priorities such as restoring areas of concern, preventing toxic and nuisance algae, reducing releases of harmful chemicals, engaging Indigenous Peoples on Great Lakes issues, and increasing public engagement through citizen science.

Some of the projects include those listed below.

 

Project: Niagara River Remedial Action Plan Coordinator

Proponent: Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $140,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will facilitate inter-agency collaboration, and stakeholder and Indigenous involvement to support the clean up of the Niagara River Area of Concern.

Project: Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan Governance

Proponent: Lower Trent Region Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $190,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will support activities to address water quality issues in the Bay of Quinte Area of Concern and advance work under the Bay of Quinte Phosphorus Management Plan.

Project: Detroit River Remedial Action Plan Governance

Proponent: Essex Region Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $165,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will support inter-agency collaboration, and stakeholder and Indigenous involvement to support the clean up of the Detroit River Area of Concern.

Project: Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan Governance

Proponent: Halton Region Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $205,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will facilitate inter-agency collaboration, and stakeholder and Indigenous involvement to support the clean up of the Hamilton Harbour Area of Concern. It will coordinate actions to address issues such as the decline of wildlife populations, fish, bird and animal deformities, as well as beach closings.

Project: Toronto and Region Remedial Action Plan Governance

Proponent: Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $290,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will facilitate inter-agency collaboration, and stakeholder and Indigenous involvement to support the clean up of the Toronto and Region Area of Concern.

Project: Community Engagement of Aamjiwnaang First Nation in the Restoration of Beneficial Uses and Decision Making for the St. Clair and Detroit River Areas of Concern

Proponent: Aamjiwnaang First Nation

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $45,000 over 3 years

Project description: This project will support community engagement in decision making  on the status of phyto- and zooplankton populations, drinking water as well as fish and wildlife populations, habitat and restrictions on their consumption, in the St. Clair and Detroit River Areas of Concern.

 

Project: St. Lawrence River (Cornwall) Remedial Action Plan Governance

Proponent: St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $86,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will facilitate interagency collaboration, and stakeholder and Indigenous engagement on the clean up of the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern, as well as advance work under the Cornwall Sediment Strategy.

Project: Community Engagement on the Assessment of Fish Consumption Restrictions

Proponent: Mohawk Council of Akwesasne

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $60,167 over 2 years

Project description: This project will engage Mohawks of Akwesasne community members in assessing restrictions on fish consumption in the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern.

 

 

 

 

 

Project: Soil Water Assessment Tool to Determine Best Management Practices in Wilton Creek and Hay Bay Watersheds

Proponent: The Governing Council of the University of Toronto

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $108,000 over 3 years

Project description: This project will develop a model to assess best management practices and determine which will be most effective in reducing phosphorus runoff, part of the Bay of Quinte Area of Concern remediation effort.

Project: St. Clair River Contaminated Sediment Management Develop Engineering Design

Proponent: St. Clair Region Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $250,000 over 3 years

Project description: This project will engage local partners in the development of the detailed engineering design for addressing mercury contaminated sediment in three areas of the St. Clair River, part of the St. Clair River Area of Concern remediation effort.

 

Reducing releases of harmful chemicals

Project: Removing Sources of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Chemicals of Mutual Concern from the Great Lakes

Proponent: The Governing Council of the University of Toronto

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $99,918 over 2 years

Project description: This project aims to reduce Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and Long-chain Perfluorocarboxylic Acids (LC-PFCAs), designated as Chemicals of Mutual Concern under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, from entering the Great Lakes through consumer products. This project will identify consumer products containing these chemicals, estimate the amount of these chemicals that could enter the lakes through these products, and engage stakeholders on impacts.

Project: Feasibility Study of Granular Activated Carbon to Reduce Perfluorooctanoic Acid and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid Emissions from Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants

Proponent: The Governing Council of the University of Toronto

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $97,440 over 2 years

Project description: This project will assess the use of activated carbon in municipal wastewater treatment plants to prevent Perfluorooctanesulfonic and Perfluorooctanoic acids from entering the Great Lakes.

Project: Mitigating the Release of Long-chain Perfluorocarboxylic Acids in Leachates: Analysis, Removal, Fate and Transport

Proponent: York University

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $91,450 over 2 years

Project description: This project will advance efforts to reduce the release of Long-chain Perfluorocarboxylic Acids in landfills.

 

 

Soil and Groundwater Remediation Technologies: A Practical Guide

This book offers various soil and water treatment technologies due to increasing global soil and water pollution. In many countries, the management of contaminated land has matured, and it is developing in many others. Topics covered include chemical and ecological risk assessment of contaminated sites; phytomanagement of contaminants; arsenic removal; selection and technology diffusion; technologies and socio-environmental management; post-remediation long-term management; soil and groundwater laws and regulations; and trace element regulation limits in soil. Future prospects of soil and groundwater remediation are critically discussed in this book. Hence, readers will learn to understand the future prospects of soil and groundwater contaminants and remediation measures.

Key Features:

  • Discusses conventional and novel aspects of soil and groundwater remediation technologies
  • Includes new monitoring/sensing technologies for soil and groundwater pollution
  • Features a case study of remediation of contaminated sites in the old, industrial, Ruhr area in Germany
  • Highlights soil washing, soil flushing, and stabilization/solidification
  • Presents information on emerging contaminants that exhibit new challenges

This book is designed for undergraduate and graduate courses and can be used as a handbook for researchers, policy makers, and local governmental institutes. Soil and Groundwater Remediation Technologies: A Practical Guide is written by a team of leading global experts in the field.

About the Book’s Authors

Yong Sik Ok, PhD, is a Full Professor at and Global Research Director of Korea University in Seoul, Korea. He currently serves as Director of the Sustainable Waste Management Program for the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU).

Jörg Rinklebe, PhD, is Professor for Soil and Groundwater Management at the University of Wuppertal, Germany. Recently, Professor Rinklebe was elected as Vice President of the International Society of Trace Element Biogeochemistry (ISTEB).

Deyi Hou, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the School of Environment of Tsinghua University.

Daniel C.W. Tsang, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Queensland.

Filip M.G. Tack, PhD, is Professor in Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements at the Department of Green Chemistry and Technology at Ghent University. He is Head of the Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry and Applied Ecochemistry of Ghent University.

How CBRN training programmes can benefit from lessons learned

Written by Bryan W Sommers, Argon Electronics

As major incidents such as the 2018 Novichok nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury have demonstrated, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) emergencies can push national and international response capabilities to their very limits.

Conversely though, these types of challenging CBRN events can also provide a powerful learning opportunity by highlighting the core skills, resources and training that most effectively support and underpin emergency response.

Salisbury poisonings prompt chemical attack questions

In an article published by the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), Retired Col. Liam Collins, former director of the Modern War Institute at West Point, explores some of the key lessons learned from the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

He also discusses how this knowledge might best be applied in order to strengthen military readiness in the chemical environment, to identify readiness shortfalls and to improve proficiency.

Among Collins’ key observations is the importance of increasing the focus on CBRN training within the military operational force.

In particular, he emphasises the value of staging “operational-level war games” that incorporate not just disaster response but the full spectrum of CBRN operations.

Combat operations in a CBRN environment

As commander of a Special Forces detachment in the 1990s, Collins says, he routinely conducted close-quarters battle training with live ammunition while wearing protective masks and, on occasion, with full protective equipment.

But with the decision to minimise CBRN training during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he believes the Army’s expertise in the CBRN environment underwent a period of “atrophy.”

The challenge now, says Collins, is to refocus military efforts on the conducting of combat operations in a CBRN environment, including decontamination training.

He also emphasises the importance of having access to sufficient stocks of equipment and PPE is vital in ensuring that personnel are able to operate for extended periods of time in environmentally challenging conditions.

“Taking a timeout, unfortunately, is not an option in a true chemical environment,” he says, “(and) even the most mundane of tasks can pose severe challenges.”

A joint-agency approach to CBRN response

Another factor that the Salisbury attack highlights is the diverse variety of individuals and teams that can be called on to respond to a CBRN emergency – from police, ambulance, the fire service and the military to healthcare organisations, crisis management institutions and detection/verification specialists.

How well these different groups are able to work with and alongside each other can be a hugely significant factor in the effectiveness of emergency response.

What is important is that CBRN training offers a sufficient degree of flexibility and adaptability in order to accommodate individual learning outcomes and to acknowledge differences in emergency management structures.

Enhancing CBRN training with real-world capability

Realistic exercises can provide an invaluable training ground for testing the effectiveness of response to a CBRN incident.

Through the provision of realistic scenarios there is the opportunity for personnel to hone their practical skills, strengthen their knowledge and enhance their decision-making abilities within a safe, immersive and controlled environment.

Incorporating the use of simulator detector equipment into military CBRN training continues to provide instructors with a flexible, scaleable and safe training solution.

In addition there is now also the option to take realistic CBRN instruction to a new level through the use of new software that interacts directly with actual operational detector equipment.

With the introduction of the new Radiation Field Training Simulator (RaFTS) for example, there is the opportunity to extend CBRN training capability beyond the realm of radiological training to encompass a much wider variety of hazardous substances, even more complex virtual scenarios and multiple instrument types.

The security environment in which CBRN responders are required to operate is in a state of continuing evolution – fuelled in no small part by the growth of international free trade, increased cross-border movement, globalisation, fundamentalism and the information-sharing capabilities of the internet.

In this challenging and ever-changing CBRN environment, a commitment to hands-on, realistic training has a vital role to play in ensuring a common knowledge base, a minimum level of best practice and the highest possible standard of operational readiness.


About the Author

Sergeant Major Bryan W Sommers has forged a distinguished career in the fields of CBRNe and HazMat training. He recently retired after twenty-two years service in the US Army, with fourteen years spent operating specifically in Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) environments. In 2020 he was appointed as Argon Electronics’ North American business development manager.

Canadian Company wins $17 million contract to supply environmental response equipment to the Coast Guard

Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of the Canadian Coast Guard, recently announced that it has awarded a $1.7 million contract to Can-Ross Environmental Services Ltd. of Oakville, Ontario for the acquisition of 10,000 feet of environmental response equipment known as Tidal Seal Boom. The contract includes options for an additional 8,200 feet.  The award was granted following an open and competitive bid process.

The purchase of additional environmental response equipment by the Canadian Coast Guard is an effort to ensure it has modern equipment needed to respond to environmental spills quickly and effectively. The Coast Guard is striving to go beyond current standards regarding environmental spill response and is utilizing innovations and advancements in technology to do so.

Tidal Seal Boom acts as a barrier to protect coastal areas from spills and helps to contain pollution during active shoreline cleanup operations. The boom protects the shore by automatically adjusting to changing water levels, such as high and low tides, helping to ensure pollution doesn’t reach the shoreline while cleanup crews are at work.

The purchase of equipment from Can-Ross Environmental is part of the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan being undertaken by the government of Canada.  It is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways.  Since the Oceans Protection Plan started in November 2016, over 50 initiatives have been announced in the areas of marine safety, research and ecosystem protection that span all of Canada’s coasts

In a media release, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, stated:  “Under the Oceans Protection Plan, we are providing our dedicated Canadian Coast Guard members across Canada with the best equipment possible. The Tidal Boom will ensure the Coast Guard can continue to respond quickly and efficiently in the event of an environmental emergency. These investments will help strengthen the Coast Guard and ensure it remains a world-leader in ocean protection and marine environmental response.”

Under the contract, new equipment will be delivered to Canadian Coast Guard facilities in Hay River, Northwest TerritoriesParry Sound and Prescott, Ontario, and Saanichton, British Columbia.

4 ways simulator technology can aid CBRN training

Written by Bryan W Sommers – SGM U.S. Army, Ret., Argon Electronics

A commitment to ongoing education and training is a vital factor in ensuring that military personnel are prepared and equipped for the full spectrum of combat operations that they may encounter.

The U.S. Marine Corps’ individual training standards focus on marines’ competence in recognizing chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN)-related incidents and in taking the required protective measures to achieve their mission objectives.

Key training goals include: being able to recognise CBRN hazards or attack indicators; the checking, donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE); recognizing CBRN alarms, markers and signals; employing detection equipment and relaying CBRN signals, alarms and reports.

Typically this training will comprise a combination of classroom, teaching, practical application and/or field training as appropriate.

The challenging nature of many CBRN environments however can often difficult, or in many cases impossible, to successfully replicate using traditional training methods.

Over the past decade there has been increasing recognition of the potential of live simulations and simulator training in being able to plug this crucial training gap.

While the laptop based Deployable Virtual Training Environment (DVTE) simulator has been a staple of the Marine Corps’ training programme for more than a decade, the integration of CBRN-specific simulator training is still a relatively new area.

But it is one that offers many opportunities.

In this article we examine four of the primary benefits of integrating an element of simulator-based training into an existing CBRN programme of instruction.

1. Enhanced realism

A key benefit of utilising simulator detector technology is the enhanced degree of realism and authenticity that it provides.

With the help of simulators, it is possible to place Marines in life-like scenarios that mirror the hazards of real events – but where there is zero risk of harm.

The use of simulator detectors also enables trainees to experience for themselves those extreme incidents that never occur outside of normal use.

Recreating the presence of a blood agent for example, is something that is otherwise impossible to achieve using traditional training methods.

With the use of a simulator however, trainees are able to see and hear for themselves exactly how their actual detectors will react in response to a real blood agent.

2. Increased trainee empowerment

A secondary benefit is the extent to which greater responsibility for training and learning can be handed over to the trainees.

Simulator detectors enable more of the decision-making to be placed in the hands of the students, removing the necessity for the instructor to have to drip-feed information to his or her students.

In shifting the onus onto the trainee there is more opportunity for them to make sense of the information they receive and to formulate appropriate responses based on that information.

3. Trust in the functionality of equipment

Simulators can also be invaluable in enabling trainees to receive realistic feedback and establish greater trust in their real-world systems.

In training with a simulator that mirrors every aspect of their real device – from the weight of the detector, to the position of the buttons, to the sound of the alarms – students are able to better rely on themselves and on the functionality of their equipment.

3. A better learning experience

Simulator-based training provides trainers with the capability to have eyes on all aspects of the training process, and for all errors to recorded even if they may not spot those errors themselves.

This information can then provide a valuable learning point when it comes to post-exercise evaluation.

Crucially too, the use of simulator detector equipment provides CBRN trainees with the freedom to not only be able to safely make mistakes, but to recognise when they make those mistakes and to adapt their actions accordingly.

The growing interest in CBRN technologies

The U.S. Marine Corps is committed to “innovation, education enhancement and investment in the resources, and technologies that facilitate learning.”

Those investments, it says, include the continued modernisation of its “training ranges, training devices, and infrastructure,” as well as the leveraging of “advanced technologies and simulation systems to create realistic, fully immersive training environments.”

The ability to achieve objectives and maintain freedom of action in a CBRN environment are vital factors in achieving mission success.

As the diversity, complexity and unpredictability of CBRN incidents continues to grow, the interest and investment in simulator technologies is only likely to increase as more organisations recognise their value in improving safety, heightening realism and enhancing learning outcomes.


About the Author

Sergeant Major Bryan W Sommers has forged a distinguished career in the fields of CBRNe and HazMat training. He recently retired after twenty-two years service in the US Army, with fourteen years spent operating specifically in Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) environments. In 2020 he was appointed as Argon Electronics’ North American business development manager.

EHS software market to reach $2 billion in 2025

According to a market research report prepared by Verdantix, the global market for Environmental, Health & Safety Software is expected to grow from $1.35 billion in 2020 to $2.2 billion in 2025.  Verdantix forecasts that the 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years will be driven by private equity and consumer demand for innovation.  North America will contribute over half (51%) of overall global spend on EHS software at $691 million in 2020.​​​​​​

The report states that there are twelve vendors that lead the EHS software market as follows: Enablon, Intelex, Cority, Velocity EHS, Sphera, UL, Gensuite, SAI Global, ETQ, Enviance, IsoMetrix and Quentic.  Verdantix assessed the capabilities of the 23 most prominent vendors in the market on their ability to meet customer demands to manage risks and improve business performance across EHS impact areas.

“Industry-leading firms are looking to the EHS function to guide digital transformation within their operations, and this benchmark illustrates how digital solutions in the market differ in terms of capabilities and momentum,” commented Yaowen Jean Ma, Senior Analyst, Verdantix. “As a result, we are seeing a surge in mergers, acquisitions and investments in the EHS software market, as vendors look to create advantage in this market, which is set to be worth $1.9bn in 2024.”

The Verdantix 2019 Green Quadrant EHS Software is the only independent benchmark of EHS software vendors available. The study findings are based on a 383-point questionnaire, live product demonstrations and a survey of 411 customers.

Leading vendors are demonstrating various competitive advantages within specific modular categories, such as, ETQ for quality and document management, Enviance for air emissions management, IsoMetrix and SAI Global for contractor safety management, Sphera and VelocityEHS for chemicals compliance management, and UL for GHG emissions and sustainability management.

The need to align Operational Risk and EHS functions is a key success factor for new entrants from an Operational Risk management software background, such as INX Software, TenForce and VisiumKMS.

“The EHS software market is entering a new phase of growth where cloud-hosted deployment, configurability and vendors offering mobile applications are becoming the new normal,” added Yaowen. “Vendors will face increasing pressure to rapidly expand market share and strengthen profitability, which will lead to an increase in vendors investment in technology integrations that expand their capabilities beyond their core competencies.”

Verdantix Senior Analyst Bill Pennington provided insight on the drivers for the growth in EHS software sales: “With EHS functions increasingly focusing on innovation, such as the continued shift from on-premise to SaaS deployment and an increased presence of dedicated IoT safety platforms, this is driving the appetite for spending on EHS technologies.”

 

U.S. EPA awards EPA Awards $2.3 Million in Funding for Businesses to Develop Innovative Environmental Technologies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently announced that it had awarded $2.3 million in funding for 23 contracts with small businesses through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to develop technologies that will help protect human health and the environment. This year’s funded technologies are focused on clean and safe water, air quality monitoring, land revitalization, homeland security, sustainable materials management, and safer chemicals.

“EPA’s Small Business funding supports our economy and opens doors to further environmental protection by fostering and encouraging small businesses to bring groundbreaking technologies to market,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “With EPA funding, these entrepreneurs will be able to develop their ideas to address priority EPA issues ranging from cleaning up PFAS contamination to reducing food waste.”

These small businesses are receiving Phase I funding of up to $100,000 from EPA’s SBIR program, which awards contracts annually through a two-phase competition. After receiving a Phase I award, companies are eligible to compete for a Phase II award of up to $400,000 to further develop and commercialize the technology.

SBIR Phase I recipients include:

  • Aerodyne Research, Inc., Billerica, Mass., to develop an ethylene oxide monitor with an ultra-low limit of detection.
  • AirLift Environmental LLC, Lincoln, Neb., to develop a remedial treatment to remove PFAS and associated co-contaminants from soil and groundwater.
  • Creare LLC, Hanover, N.H., to develop a hydrodynamic cavitation technology to destroy PFAS in drinking water.
  • CTI and Associates, Inc., Novi, Mich., to test and evaluate a novel technology for the concentration and destruction of PFAS in landfill leachate.
  • Hedin Environmental, Pittsburgh, Pa., to create a treatment process for contaminated waters at coal and metal mines.
  • Mesa Photonics, LLC, Santa Fe, N.M., to create a compact, fast, sensitive and selective optical sulfur dioxide monitor.
  • Onvector LLC, King of Prussia, Pa., to develop a technology that destroys PFAS in water and wastewater utilizing a plasma arc reactor.
  • Physical Optics Corporation, Torrance, Calif., to create a 3D mapping and visual system to detect radiation contamination for homeland security applications.
  • RemWell, LLC, Potsdam, N.Y., to design a remediation technology using sonolysis for PFAS contaminated groundwater.

The U.S. EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program, enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal research and development, create jobs, and promote U.S. technical innovation. To be eligible, a company must be an organized, for-profit U.S. business and have fewer than 500 employees.

Use of Drones in Environmental/Engineering Services

Written by Walter Wright Jr, Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C

The use and functions of unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e, drones) in service industries is rapidly evolving.

Environmental services and/or environmental monitoring/enforcement is an example of an area in which the usefulness of drones is being recognized.

By way of example, as noted in a previous post (see post here), the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality as early as 2018 added drones as a tool in the agency’s environmental protection missions. The three drones employed by the agency are used for activities such as:

  • Surveillance
  • Enforcement
  • Permit Support Documentation
  • Waste and Landfill Inspections
  • Legal Dumping of Chemicals, Oil or Waste Tires
  • General Emergency Response Functions Involving Facility Discharges, Train Derailments, Truck Accidents, Oil Spills
  • Investigations of Unusual Events

An example in the environmental services area is the Little Rock/Springdale firm of Pollution Management, Inc., (“PMI”) which operates a drone for certain environmental/engineering services.

The company states it uses a drone in the engineering area for activities such as:

  • aerial imagery (i.e., dam/levee inspections, slope failures, structure layout, etc.)
  • Topographic data (civil site layout, flood studies, landfills, industrial site design)

In the environmental area the drone is stated to be utilized for aerial site reconnaissance for areas that are:

  • Large areas of land
  • Not easily accessible by foot or vehicle
  • May not be easily observable due to thick vegetation or other impediments

In other words, drones apparently have certain potential inherent advantages when it comes to their ability to cost effectively observe for environmental assessment purposes larger or relatively inaccessible areas.

Note that the utilization of drones for income-producing purposes is subject to Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) rules and restrictions. PMI indicates that Professional Engineer Brad Wingfield recently passed his FAA Part 107 aviation exam. As a result, he is certified to pilot drones for commercial purposes.


About the Author

Walter Wright practices Environmental and Energy Law in the Little Rock, Arkansas, office of Mitchell Williams Law Firm.  He has taught Environmental Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law since 1989.  Mr. Wright is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and the George Washington University National Law Center in Washington, D.C.