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#1 fahrquad

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 05:13 AM

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River Fire.  Although this was the 13th time since 1868 that the heavily polluted river has burned, this particular event caused the creation of new environmental regulations including the Clean Water Act.

 

"The 1969 Cuyahoga River fire helped spur an avalanche of water pollution control activities, resulting in the Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). As a result, large point sources of pollution on the Cuyahoga have received significant attention from the OEPA in recent decades. These events are referred to in Randy Newman's 1972 song "Burn On," R.E.M.'s 1986 song "Cuyahoga," and Adam Again's 1992 song "River on Fire." Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland named its Burning River Pale Ale after the event.

 

In December 1970 a federal grand jury investigation led by U.S. Attorney Robert W. Jones began, of water pollution allegedly being caused by about 12 companies in northeastern Ohio; it was the first grand jury investigation of water pollution in the area.[18] The Attorney General of the United States, John N. Mitchell, gave a Press Conference December 18, 1970 referencing new pollution control litigation, with particular reference to work with the new Environmental Protection Agency, and announcing the filing of a law suit that morning against the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation for discharging substantial quantities of cyanide into the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland.[19] Jones filed the misdemeanor charges in District Court, alleging violations of the 1899 Rivers and Harbors Act.[20] There were multiple other suits filed by Jones.[21][22][23]"

 

https://en.wikipedia.../Cuyahoga_River


Edited by fahrquad, 22 June 2019 - 05:14 AM.


#2 fahrquad

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 05:17 AM

cayuhoga-river-fire.jpg



#3 fahrquad

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 05:19 AM

Cleveland%2BCuyahoga%2BRiver%2B1969.jpg



#4 fahrquad

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 05:27 AM

The photo in post #2 is from the 1952 fire which was the most destructive of the 13 fires.  Officially there are no photos of the 1969 fire since it was extinguished before news crews arrived, but I suspect the unaccredited photo in post #3 is an amateur photo of the 1969 fire.

 

https://www.google.c...Kp4e_MJv7L1eMIA


Edited by fahrquad, 22 June 2019 - 06:18 AM.


#5 fahrquad

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 05:26 PM

Most of you have never had the joy of reviewing an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit in conjunction with a construction project and hopefully you never will.  In addition to the EPA permit, we also had to deal with the regional SC Soil and Water Conservation District.  The purpose of these permit and approval processes was to assure that adequate controls were in place to minimize storm-water runoff and prevent sedimentation and erosion at construction sites.  As far as storm water detention facilities, the Conservation District required detention facilities to be designed to hold the runoff from a "50 year storm", but when I got to the municipality that I left the county for I changed their requirement* to hold the runoff from the "100 year storm".  The purpose for the change was because we (and FEMA) required all structures to be located outside the regulated "100 year" floodplain, and adding storm drainage to the floodplain basin during a flood event would exacerbate flooding and increase the risk to property and life. This did not prove to be a problem for most of the civil engineers we worked with since it fell within the "fudge factor" they built into their drainage calculations.  Since we were not altering the peak volume and flood elevation by delaying the release we did not adversely affect communities downstream of our city limits.

 

* To be more accurate I drafted an amendment to take to City Council and convinced them of the need for the amendment, which frankly was an easy sell.


Edited by fahrquad, 22 June 2019 - 05:46 PM.


#6 fahrquad

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 05:37 PM

A common misconception is that a "100 year storm" means a storm of that size can only happen once every 100 years, but it actually refers to a probability of 1% that the flood elevations will be met or exceeded, while a "50 year storm" has a 2% probability.  While it may sound strange to be talking about probabilities in relation to civil engineering, we are referring to the "National Flood Insurance Program" (NFIP) after all.


Edited by fahrquad, 22 June 2019 - 06:24 PM.


#7 fahrquad

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 06:22 PM

Many years ago I worked for a Tennis Ball manufacturer (whose name shall not be mentioned, but it starts with a W) as a lab technician/engineering aide.  One morning after start-up from a week long plant closure (for vacations and maintenance) I found that the mechanical contractor (whose name also shall not be mentioned due to the subsequent law suit) that had been hired to do some piping work had mixed up the valve position at the solvent tank farm and the recirculating pump was returning the contents from a 20,000 gallon tank to a 9000 gallon tank.  Approximately 3750 gallons of "Textile Spirits" had been spilled before I found the spill and killed the pump. "Textile Spirits" is a blend of toluene, hexane, and heptane which are all volatile petroleum distillates.  Fortunately the tanks were located underground next to the pump and valve station, so they were in a pit excavated into hard red clay, which is relatively impermeable.  The pit was backfilled with coarse river sand, so the majority of the solvent was contained in the pit.  We bored a few wells into the pit and pumped out what solvents we could recover, which if I remember correctly was about 2500 gallons, so roughly 1250 gallons dispersed into the soil.  Obviously DHEC and the EPA were contacted and site remediation began.  All of the contaminated soil was excavated and sent to an incinerator and clean backfill was brought in.  Several monitor wells were drilled around the site and were periodically checked for any residual contamination in the ground water.  Guess who got stuck with that task?



#8 Deepwater6

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 07:45 PM

Ahhhh Fahrquad, The fun and fond memories I have had with NPDES sites at my water plants and my operators who collect the samples are near and dear to my heart. The comments they add to the official test data log about the samples has put me on a first name basis with everyone who works for DEP in southeastern PA.

 

We draw from surface rivers and creeks to supply the plants. Since introducing residual and plant wastewater back to the front of the process has proved more difficult than it's worth, we don't attempt it anymore. We have 3 large settling lagoons to help, where we add So2 and polymer to de-chlorinate and settle particulates out before returning it to the streams.

 

99% of the time we are returning the water back to the stream better than it was received, however with any industrial facility we have equipment failures and chemical feed system malfunctions. 

 

We take a daily sample and once a week a composite sample is collected. Operators are to test for Ph, Cl2, turbidity, Aluminum, Iron, and Manganese. It is their responsibility to make sure each sample is within the parameters of the NPDES. 

 

Before I call the DEP to report a possible violation I get great satisfaction out of reading the operators log comments. They include:

 

9.8 Ph? "WOW that's high."

"Cl2 was really high so I turned the So2 down."

"Didn't get NPDES sample today, lot of black stuff in the water."

 

I used to always ask the operators the same question, "Did you investigate why the sample was different this time from the other 500 times you collected it?" But I've learned over the years that the only answer that question ever gets me is, "you just told me to get the sample."

 

So I just nod my head with a confused look on my face and say, yes.......... yes,I did...........


Edited by Deepwater6, 22 June 2019 - 07:56 PM.


#9 fahrquad

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 04:32 AM

Deepwater, I fondly recall the joys of supervising humans and how it made me appreciate the company of machines so much more. Before I was retired I was regulating the construction trades as a local public official.  I greatly preferred commercial/industrial construction work where the site manager and workers actually had experience and qualifications as opposed to residential construction where the only qualifications were having a pulse and knowing which end of a hammer to hold. 

 

If I may ask, what industry are you in?  I assume your process water is used for cooling.  Petroleum refining perhaps?  When I was still in the manufacturing sector our process water from the chillers was recirculated as was the steam/condensate from the boilers.  The two main air compressors for process air used chilled water for the rotary screws while the smaller Ingersoll piston compressor (for instrument controls) had its own radiator.  The only water that left the facility other than the sanitary sewer line was evaporation from the cooling towers. 


Edited by fahrquad, 23 June 2019 - 04:33 AM.


#10 Deepwater6

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 07:28 PM

My industry is drinking water, my company is a publically traded water utility. Traded on the NYSE under WTR. 

 

I can't agree more about the experience, we have experienced a wave of retirements recently and it's been a challenge to get our new personnel up to speed. I've been at it 30 yrs.and actually enjoy working with new employees that are willing to learn.

 

One of the biggest obstacles is convincing them that not all problems and solutions can be found through the computer. When I started years ago there were no computers and much less regulation. When a filter needed to be washed an operator walked up to it and operated the valves. Now it's all automated and although we have installed as many computer alarms as possible to warn operators of compliance issues, it has also served to lull them into a sense of dependency on computers.

 

I'm all for automation, it's been a great tool, but I say it at least 20 times a day to my operators. "Are you sure that number on the computer is correct?" Usually followed by "You must get out of the chair to operate the plant" Cl2 analyzers are only as good as the sample pump that supplies them, level probes can fail and continue to give valid numbers. More times than I can remember I've walked past a overflowing water storage or chemical tanks and into the control room or one of our labs and ask the operator to pull up the tank on our SCADA system and it shows the tank level right where it's supposed to be. (ahhh another teaching moment)

 

We have a good group of young guys right now though. They are plenty bright enough to do the job they just desperately need experience.

 

When I started, all that was needed was for an entry level person was to get a CDL license with HAZMAT endorsement within 3 month's of hire.

 

Entry level employees must now have class A water license with all modules, at least an associates degree in a related field and many other credentials. The entry level employees walk in with much more knowledge these days which is good, but experience will take knowledge any day in my book.

 

Then again I'm an analog guy living in a digital age. :help:


Edited by Deepwater6, 23 June 2019 - 07:38 PM.