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Now viewing articles posted in 2014.

  • Is Your SPCC Plan In Place for an Emergency?

    August 12th, 2014 by Eileen Pannetier


    Do you have a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plan? If so, is it up to date with the best available information? If not, you could be subject to penalties and fines. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) recently fined several facilities in New England anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 for failing to have an adequate SPCC Plan in place. In some cases, these fines can exceed the cost to prepare the SPCC Plan itself, not to mention the headaches, legal fees and negative publicity.

    You are required to have an SPCC Plan if your facility stores either more than 1,320 gallons of oil in aboveground containers or more than 42,000 gallons in underground tanks and could potentially discharge oil into waters of the United States. Municipal facilities that are typically subject to these requirements include highway garages, transfer stations and recycling centers, where fueling, maintenance and/or waste oil collection are commonly performed. Plans generally outline where oil is stored, spill prevention practices, and response measures to implement in the event of a release. 

    A successful plan should be written so that information is easy to locate when needed the most - during an emergency. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case and important emergency information often gets buried with the administrative requirements of the plan.

    CEI specializes in creating plans that are comprehensive but functional. Components may include a stand-alone “Action Plan”, focusing on facility inspections and spill response for use by workers in the facility and development of “Emergency Response Cards” or posters designed to hang on the wall near each oil storage location. Cards provide the most pertinent information for each storage area, including what is stored there, emergency response procedures and contacts, inspection and maintenance requirements, and a detailed map of the area showing the locations of oil containers and spill response equipment. These provide an invaluable quick reference in the event of an emergency, avoiding the need to locate and read through a lengthy written plan.

    For more information or examples of any of the materials referenced above, please contact Nick Cristofori, P.E. at 800.725.2550 x303, ncristofori@ceiengineers.com, or Rebecca Balke, P.E. at x308, rbalke@ceiengineers.com or visit www.ceiengineers.com for information on other services we offer.

  • Harmful Algal Blooms, Cyanobacteria and Cyanotoxins

    August 5th, 2014 by Eileen Pannetier


    Most communities deal with harmful algal blooms (HABs) and their impacts on recreational activities through pond and lake warnings and closures. HABs have been known to cause fish kills and pet deaths, as well as making people sick from swimming in cyanobacteria laden water. In some cases, HABs are so extensive that they can cause disruptions to drinking water supply, as occurred in Toledo, Ohio in August 2014. 

    HABs are formed by cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae but are actually photosynthetic bacteria. Their primary season runs from June to September, although they can survive all winter in reduced capacity, returning to thrive in warmer temperatures. Since temperature and nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus, seem to be a driving force for growth, the increasing water temperatures occurring with climate change and higher levels of stormwater runoff from increasing urbanization of water supply watersheds may exacerbate the problem. Cyanobacteria occur in fresh, brackish and marine waters and thrive in nutrient rich warm waters. When cyanobacteria concentrate, they increase to form HABs at which point they cause aesthetic color issues and may produce taste and odor compounds such as geosmin and methyl isoborneol (MIB) and dangerous cyanotoxins.

    Water Supply Disruption in Toledo, August 2014

    The fear in Toledo is that the cyanotoxins, produced by cyanobacteria, may have not been removed by conventional treatment facility including filtration and entered the distribution system. Recent advances in the ability to detect lower levels of cyanotoxins and epidemiological studies examining cyanotoxin effects on human health have heightened concerns. Cyanotoxins can cause a range of human health issues such as liver and kidney damage, neurological damage, gastrointestinal issues, and tissue damage. The risks for drinking water supplies is not well known, but likely depends on the treatment process as well as how “slugs” or mats of the cyanobacteria are handled when they enter the treatment facility. 

    Current Regulatory Status

    Cyanobacteria produce numerous types of cyanotoxins. The cyanotoxins are produced and contained within growing cyanobacteria cells. Generally, release of cyanotoxins occurs during cell death and lysis, however, some types of cyanobacteria release cyanotoxins as a soluble exotoxin in the raw water during growth if light conditions are poor. Research into the frequency and effects of these toxins is ongoing. However, it is generally thought that microcystin-LR is the most frequent and probably most toxic of the microcystins. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) now encourages awareness of cyanobacteria in drinking water, and has funded studies examining cyanobacteria and associated health effects caused by cyanotoxins. As a result, the USEPA currently lists three cyanotoxins on the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Contaminant Candidate List (CCL3) and Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rules (Anatoxin-a, Microcystin-LR, and Cylindrospermopsin).

    New England Cyanobacteria Assessment

    Although some water systems are all too familiar with the challenges associated with taste and odor issues caused by some cyanobacteria, concerns about human health effects are more recently coming to light. In an effort to determine the magnitude of the cyanobacteria and cyanotoxin presence in New England drinking water supplies, Comprehensive Environmental Inc. (CEI) conducted an initial assessment on cyanobacteria and microcystins removal at four New England water treatment facilities. CEI is a progressive civil and environmental engineering consulting firm, striving to stay ahead of issues affecting our industry. Through these efforts, we provide our clients with the highest level of service and potentially pass on new information to the drinking water community. For this initial assessment, CEI collaborated with the University of New Hampshire, Center for Freshwater Biology and four New England drinking water systems to determine (for the first time) whether cyanobacteria and microcystins (liver toxins produced by many species of cyanobacteria commonly found in New England) are effectively removed through water treatment processes.

    The most effective approach to keeping cyanotoxins out of the water supply is watershed protection and management. Water suppliers are encouraged to develop a monitoring plan for cyanobacteria as well as preventative actions. By preventing cyanobacteria growth within the drinking water supply, operators will not need to rely on treatment removal methods. Water resource protection and management methods involve limitation of nutrient loading from surface runoff and erosion, stormwater discharge and wastewater discharge.

    CEI is a leader in the fields of watershed management and water treatment. For more information on HABs, cyanobacteria, cyanotoxins and their control, download the report on our study Cyanobacteria: Initial Assessment of New England Water Supplies or contact Kristen Berger, P.E., Project Manager at 1-800-725-2550 x399 or kberger@ceiengineers.com.

  • What is a Downgradient Property Status?

    July 11th, 2014 by Rick Cote, P.E., LSP


    Downgradient Property Status is a provision in the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) for people whose property has been impacted by contamination from an upgradient or upstream property. In most of these situations, the property owner does not control the source of the contamination and therefore may not be able to meet the requirements of the MCP. A Downgradient Property Status submittal allows the property owner to submit information to MassDEP showing the source of contamination is coming from an offsite, upgradient source. Once the Downgradient Property Status becomes effective, the deadlines associated with Tier Classification and Comprehensive Response Actions and associated fees are suspended. This allows time for the property owner to communicate with the upgradient source owner, allow for site access, assess the contamination issues and move through the MCP remediation process.

    For more information about CEI’s site assessment and remediation services please contact Rick Cote, P.E., LSP directly at 800.725.2550x302 or rcote@ceiengineers.com or Rebecca Balke, P.E. at rbalke@ceiengineers.com.

  • Staying Ahead of Stormwater Phase II

    April 16th, 2014 by Eileen Pannetier


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  • Arsenic In Drinking Water

    April 7th, 2014 by Eileen Pannetier


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  • ASTM Phase I vs. MCP Phase I

    March 28th, 2014 by Stephanie Hanson


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  • Happy Spring!

    March 21st, 2014 by Eileen Pannetier


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  • Keep Your Trees – They’re BMPs!

    March 17th, 2014 by Eileen Pannetier


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  • I Reported a Spill to MassDEP – Now What?

    March 16th, 2014 by Rick Cote, P.E., LSP


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  • National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

    March 7th, 2014 by Eileen Pannetier


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