Veteran Owned and Operated

The Importance of Air Quality

by Frederick E. Simms Ph.D

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been emphasizing the importance of the quality of the air that Michiganders breath. This is for good reason as indicated by a study several years ago by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology using the EPA National Emission Inventory for 2005. People die about a decade earlier than they might have from air pollution and so there are 200,000 early deaths each year in the United States from this cause.

On the worldwide scale the costs of air pollution are enormous. Air pollution deaths cost $225 Billion in lost labor income in 2013 according to the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. That year an estimated 5.5 million lives were lost from diseases associated with outdoor and household pollution causing reduced economic development in addition to human suffering. The aggregate costs of premature deaths were determined to be $5 Trillion worldwide in 2013.

Tis the Season

by Jeannine Grossenbacher

Tis the Season ... for fire. Home, heating, fireplace use, cozy candles, and more indoor cooking can all increase the risk of dangerous fires during the winter months. And while prevention is the best way to protect your home and business, knowing what to do in the event of a fire occurring can save unimaginable heartbreak in terms of time and money lost, and more importantly, could save lives.

It only takes a second for a spark to ignite and become a flame. Within minutes that flame can become a life threatening blaze, which, if not gotten under control immediatly, can quickly destroy your home or business. Unfortunatly, just as not all fires are created equal, neither are all fire extinguisher. And using the wrong type of extinguishers can result in more damage. So make sure you grab the right tool for the job.

Fires are generally considered to fall into one of five categories, combustibles, flammable liquids and gases, flammable metals, electrical, and cooking oils. Below is a description of the classes of fire, and the appropriate way to stop them.

Class A fires contain simple combusitble materials, such as wood, paper, and garbage. These fires respond well to most types of suppression techniques, including water and smothering, and Type A extinguishers.

The Class B fire may comprise either flammable liquids or flammable gases. Adding water to these types of fire can cause the fire to excelerate and possibly spread to other nearby sources of fuel. There are several types of extinguishers rated for this type of fire, including Foam, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and ABC Powder. Each of these is able to smother the fire, while reducing the risk of spreading.

Class C fires are electrical in nature and should only be treated with a dry chemical or carbon dioxide based agent. While many multi-purpose extinguishers are availble, make sure yours is rated for C Class fires before using. If the electricity can be safely turned off, the remaining fire may be treated with a wet method.

Class D is a unique category, made up of flammable metals. Magnesium, lithium, zirconium and many other metals are a potential hazard, particularly when found as shavings or metal sawdust. These fires are most ofetn found in factories. They can react violently to most forms of suppression and should only be attacked with special Type D extinguishers, containing a dry powder.

Class K fires, similar to Class B, contain flammable liquids, but these are usually oils used for cooking. These fires must be suprressed without the use of water and Class K extinguishers accomplish this with the use of an aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). All commercial kitchens are required to have these installed.

No extinguisher exists to handle all fire types, but knowing your risk can help you to choose the correct extinguisher to have on hand. And having the correct one when you need it, can prevent tragedy.

Energy Independence and Economic Growth

by Frederick Simms

President Trump's Executive Order promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth (March, 2017) makes a number of changes that we have all heard about. We though it would be worthwhile to emphasize what we think are important parts of the Order:

"By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1 Policy (a) It is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation's vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation. Moreover, the prudent development of these natural resources is essential to ensuring the nation's geopolitical security.

(b) It is further in the national interest to ensure that the Nation's electricity is affordable, reliable, safe, secure, and clean, and that it can be produced from coal, natural gas, nuclear material, flowing water, and other domestic sources, including renewable sources.

(c) Accordingly, it is the policy of the United States that executive departments and agencies immediately review existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest otherwise comply with the law.

It is further the policy of the United States that, to the extent permitted by law, all agencies should take appropriate actions to promote clean air and clean water for the American people, while also respecting the proper roles of the Congress and the States concerning these matters in our constitutional republic."

Vapor Intrusion in Residences, Commercial and Industrial Properties

by Frederick Simms

Service Environmental Engineering attended the Michigan Association of Environmental Professionals on March 27, 2017. Presentations were made by Matthew Williams, Vapor Intrusion Specialist, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and AbbyHendershott, Assistant District Supervisor, MDEQ. They presented tables of new Action Levels for various common hazardous volatile substances. To give you an example, if the groundwater within 100 feet of a building contains more than 1.5 ug/L of Vinyl Chloride - The building may have to be evacuated! However, it is true that the vapor intrusion can vary excessively over time and it may be necessary to sample the air over time to get a true picture of the potential human exposure levels.

It was stated that 30 or more buildings have been closed down because of vapor inhalation problems. It was also stated that there have been many lawsuits with a variety of companies involved. Additionally, the MDEQ is now sharing their data with the Michigan Health Department, who can come into your site.

The new MDEQ rules are not yet promulgated.

Beware - You Get What You Pay For!!! Substandard ASTM Phase Is and Phase IIs

by Frederick Simms

Service Environmental Engineering recently reviewed a Phase I and a Phase II property assessments that purportedly followed the ASTM E1527-13 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process and the ASTM E1903-11 Phase 11 Environmental Site Assessment Process that were performed by a Michigan environmental consulting firm.

Both of the assessment reports showed many deficiencies and we will not enumerate all of them here. The Phase I report was four pages in length - one page covered definitions from the ASTM standard. The Phase1 did not did not describe the geology, topography or condition of outside surfaces. It did not indicate if there were any water wells in the area. It did not describe the uses of surrounding property even though there was a BEA on the property next door. There were no interviews with neighbouring individuals. It claimed that the offsite BEA was a REC. This is not true according to the ASTM standard.

The Phase II did not enumerate in detail the constituents that were analyzed in soil and ground water. Laboratory analytical results were not included. Mercury was a waste from the facility but it was not indicated that Mercury was analyzed. They did not describe how they collected the ground water samples. Ground water occurred but no potentiometric map was developed and the ground water direction was not determined. This is very important in relation to the BEA property next door. Maybe there is impact on that property that eventually may affect the subject property. I could go on and on. This is not an isolated case.

Service Environmental Engineering recommends that you check out the reputation of the environmental company that you are considering using for your assessment. How long have they been in business? Ask to see some of their reports. Request the resumes of the environmental professionals that will perform the job. And finally, if the price that they quote is substantially below that of other environmental companies it may be too good to be true!

A year End 2016 Update for Solar Power Systems on Old Landfills

by Frederick Simms

After four years of preparation, the solar energy project on a landfill of the City of South Burlington, Vermont will break ground in Q1 or Q2 of 2017. This will save the city of South Burlington as estimated $2.9 million over the life of the project (News release by Coralee Holm, 10/18/2016).

There was a dedication of a new 15 megawatt solar system over a closed landfill at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. It is estimated that the solar system will save $ one million per year in energy costs. (Solar Energy Industries Association News for 2016)

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, there are over 100 waste disposal sites that have the potential to be used for solar power systems. Presently, the county is considering four of these sites for the production of solar power. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)


Solar Earth leased the former town dump of the City of Dudly, Massachusetts for $64,000 per year for 25 years. They intend to place a 27 Megawatt solar system on the old landfill.

April Showers

by Jeannine Grossenbacher

April showers may bring flowers, but they can also bring headaches for those without an appropriate Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). Storm water run-off can pick-up many kinds of pollutants, including grease, oil, sediments, nitrogen, phosphorus, and any number of other chemicals. These can then be carried directly to our local water without first receiving necessary treatment.

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) require many industries to develop and comply with an individualized SWPPP. Service Environmental Engineering, Inc. has storm water certified operators to help you every step of the way, from determining whether your business is required to have an SWPPP to helping you file your annual report. We work with many companies through-out Michigan to protect our precious waterways.

Our pollution prevention team will prepare a site map, locating all buildings and driveways, impervious surfaces, storage areas for potentially hazardous fluids, parts, metals, vehicles, or other materials which may impact our environment, as well as drainage areas and patterns, and established control measures. This is an important first step in preparing your StormWater Pollution Prevention Plan.

Following our site evaluation, we will prepare a site specific SWPPP detailing necessary measures and controls for storm water management. This may include plans for proper management of run-off, sediment and erosion control, proper handling of sediment treatment chemicals (polymers, flocculates, etc.), measures for storage, handling and disposal of hazardous material, solid wastes and other materials. The plan will outline steps for proper future inspection, maintenance, and record keeping.

So don't be caught with out an umbrella, call Service Environmental Engineering to get your Storm Water Pollution Protection Plan today. And enjoy the Spring!

Storm Water Compliance

by Gene Simms

Service Environmental Engineering, Inc. has on staff several Certified Storm Water Operators for Industrial Sites. These Storm Water Operators work with dozens of industrial facilities in South-eastern Michigan by preparing permits, writing, reviewing and updating storm water plans, performing quarterly and annual inspections and sampling storm water as well as being an intermediary between the industrial company and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

A Cool Summer Job

by Jeannine Grossenbacher

At Service Environmental Engineering, Inc., we work year round monitoring and testing. This can be hot work in the summer. But a recent job in Kalamazoo provided us with a cool respite from the summer heat. While testing at four of the local Dairy Queens, we took the opportunity to sample more than just possible contamination sources, we sampled all the flavors.

And while we can't say exactly what our results found we can tell you ....There is nothing better to beat the heat, than a quick trip to DQ, even on a workday.

Environmental News

by Gene Simms

Recently, Service Environmental Engineering, Inc. (SEE) consulted with the purchaser of a large industrial building in Ferndale, Michigan. The purchaser needed a Small Business Administration Loan for the purchase of the building and the property. The SBA required written approval of the Documentation of Due Care Compliance (DDCC) plan by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality prior to approving the financing.

SEE performed a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) and Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment in 2014. Then, as directed by the current property owner, they wanted any impact found on the property, regardless of the source, remediated for the purchaser. Trimethylbenzene was found in the soil below the floor. For many decades the building had been used for the processing of rolls of various metals. The floor of the processing area had deep pits for bending steel.

Service Environmental Engineering, Inc. remediated the soil under the building at designated locations and prepared a Baseline Environmental Assessment and a DDCC for the purchaser of the property and the loan was quickly approved.

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