Confident Compliance

Confident Compliance

March 30, 2015

By Roland Fornoff

Compliance CheckFor over ten years, I have worked in environmental management.  During that time, one thing that has remained constant is the disillusion of business owners and managers that they are in compliance with regards to hazardous waste.  They have identified their waste as hazardous and have hired a company to haul the waste away and dispose of it.  In their minds, they have done the “right thing”. Continue reading Confident Compliance

To Water or Not to Water

April 9, 2015

By Ken Trankle

DSC00439On Wednesday April 8, 2015 at Washoe Lake State Park, Governor Sandoval signed Executive Order 2015-03 establishing the Nevada Drought Forum.  The order mandates a full water audit and water conservation strategies for the State of Nevada and at all State facilities. The Governor made it clear that “We’re not in the same position as California. It isn’t an emergency. It isn’t meant to panic anyone. We’re all used to living in the desert and all of Nevadans are used to conserving water.”

Living in Washoe Valley for the past 20 years I have seen droughts come and go, but standing there and listening to the Governor’s speech while looking out at the dried up Washoe Lake in the background it really hit home.  Our state is in a real time drought! While there are no statewide mandatory water restrictions in place at this point, we can all do our part in reducing our water use. Washoe County is conserving water by reducing use by 10 percent at parks, buildings and golf courses. The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) Board of Directors asked the community in 2010 to reduce their water use by 25 percent and now have asked the community to reduce its average water consumption by an additional 20 percent by 2035.

The Forum will provide an opportunity for all Nevadans-urban & rural, north & south-to come together and help address this critical challenge. By taking simple steps, Nevada businesses can reduce water use and save money. Below are some links to learn more about conserving water voluntarily.

Learn how Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) and Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) make saving water and money easier with free water audits and other water conservation programs and rebates.

Biochar–Black is the new Green

Biochar—Black is the new Green

“Carbon farming”—adding a form of charcoal to the mix of soil amendments is currently being tested in laboratories, test plots and field demonstrations across the nation.  The carbon is called “biochar”.  Biochar registers in the 80 percent organic carbon range and can be produced from a wide range of forest and agriculture wastes. Why biochar? There are a wide stream of environmental and economic benefits but, most significantly, biochar increases water and fertilizer use efficiency for improved plant growth and greater yields.

There is a unique, symbiotic relationship between the potential markets for biochar and the raw material sources (known as biomass).  In Nevada, there are millions of tons of Pinyon/Juniper, a non-timber forest type.  This material is frequently located adjacent to farming regions and, in some areas, is encroaching on those lands.  The very presence of Pinyon/Juniper threatens the ground water sources for the forage crops grown thereon.  Removing those trees frequently results in springs and other water resources to begin flowing again.  Converting the removed biomass to biochar and using that biochar on the fields as a soil amendment completes the cycle.  Plant quality and yield improves, water resources are used more efficiently, and carbon is sequestered—all great outcomes for Nevada.

For an in-depth look at biochar–what it is, how it is made, how to use it—and, the who—the potential markets for biochar, see the Business Environmental Program’s Biochar Technical paper at: (additional information is also available on the International Biochar Initiative website,

Register for our upcoming Biochar workshop on February 18, 2015!


$2 billion in funds headed for cleanups in Nevada and on the Navajo Nation from historic Anadarko settlement with U.S. EPA, States

$2 billion in funds headed for cleanups in Nevada and on the Navajo Nation from historic Anadarko settlement with U.S. EPA, States

Release Date: 01/23/2015

Contacts: Margot Perez-Sullivan,, 415-947-4149 or Suzanne Skadowski,, 415-972-3165

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced the settlement reached with Anadarko and Kerr-McGee is now final, allowing funds to be disbursed for cleanups across the country.

The settlement secures payments of $5.15 billion to resolve claims that the defendants fraudulently transferred assets in part to evade their liability for contamination at toxic sites around the country. Of this total, approximately $4.4 billion will be used to clean the environment. This is the largest sum ever awarded in this type of a bankruptcy-related environmental settlement with the federal government.  Continue reading $2 billion in funds headed for cleanups in Nevada and on the Navajo Nation from historic Anadarko settlement with U.S. EPA, States

Put a Lid on it

HWWhy are closed containers for hazardous waste so important?

January 13, 2015

By Ken Trankle

One of the most common RCRA violations I run across is the failure to “put a lid on it”.  If you are storing hazardous wastes, the container must be closed at all times unless you’re adding or removing waste from a container.  Mismanaged facilities will often leave drums open, allowing fumes to escape into the area and risking spills.  Other examples of poor hazardous waste management include using plastic wrap and aluminum foil coverings over containers or a piece of plywood across the top of a drum.

So, what is the definition of closed container?  First, use containers and lids that are leak proof, compatible with the wastes, and in good condition.  Next, closed means using a lid with a vapor tight seal – shut tightly enough that the contents cannot spill if tipped over and chemical vapors cannot escape into the air.  Make sure that:

  • Lids are on
  • Lids are screwed tight
  • Snap rings are latched and tightened
  • Bungholes are securely capped
  • Funnels, if used, are closed and screwed into the container
  • Containers and lids are compatible with the waste.

Make sure all the employees that work with hazardous waste containers are trained properly on how to close them the right way, and why it’s important.  As an owner or manager, you should regularly check to make sure hazardous waste containers are closed.

As Benjamin Franklin used to say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  While closed containers are absolutely critical, secondary containment systems prevent accidental leaks or spills from becoming environmental hazards.  Secondary containment systems – such as a (sealed) concrete pad, a pan or tub underneath the containers – inexpensively catch any release or spill that could occur when filling or emptying a container, or if a container leaks.

Additional information on this subject and waste storage requirements can be found at the following link:!1011.pdf,

It’s Not Too Early to Begin Planning for 2015 RCRA Hazardous Waste Biennial Reporting

December 29, 2014

By John HandzoRCRA

Now is a good time to prepare for the 2015 RCRA hazardous waste reporting year (also known as the RCRA Biennial Generator Report).  All facilities that generate 2,200 or more pounds of hazardous waste, or 2.2 or more pounds of acutely hazardous waste, in any calendar month during 2015 will be required to complete a Biennial Generator Report in early 2016.  A one-time clean-up, spill, or malfunction of equipment can result in the generation of more than 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste, or more than 2.2 pounds of acutely hazardous waste, in a calendar month.  Just one such event can subject a facility to Biennial Generator Reporting requirements; the current registered generator status of a facility (large quantity generator, small quantity generator, or conditionally-exempt small quantity generator) is not the determining factor.

The Nevada Business Environmental Program (BEP) recommends that facilities develop a waste minimization strategy to remain below the reporting thresholds.  For those facilities that are unable to stay below the regulatory reporting thresholds, however, the use of a tracking calendar is an easy and convenient tool that will come in handy when reports are due in early 2016.  The Nevada BEP offers a free and downloadable calendar just for this purpose.

Look for announcements in late 2015 for our next round of training on Biennial Generator Reporting.  In the meantime, to develop waste management and minimization strategies for 2015 that can keep your facility under the large quantity generator reporting threshold, thus saving valuable time and effort, contact the Nevada BEP toll free at 1.800.882.3233 to request a free and confidential site assessment by our team of experts.

EPA to Hold Public Hearings in California, Texas and Washington, D.C. on Proposed Smog Standards

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold three public hearings on the proposed updates to the national air quality standards for ground-level ozone, also known as smog. EPA has proposed to strengthen the standards to a level within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comment on a level down to 60 ppb. The agency estimates that the benefits of meeting the proposed standards will significantly outweigh the costs, preventing asthma attacks, heart attacks, missed school days and premature deaths, among other health effects. Continue reading EPA to Hold Public Hearings in California, Texas and Washington, D.C. on Proposed Smog Standards

U.S. EPA honors Calif. companies Amyris and Solazyme for using green chemistry to create renewable and sustainable plant-based fuels

SAN FRANCISCO – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Amyris Inc. in Emeryville and Solazyme, Inc., in South San Francisco, Calif. with Presidential Green Chemistry Awards for creating renewable and sustainable plant-based fuels and other products. The Calif. companies are among five organizations nationwide honored for developing safer chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances.

“Green chemistry technologies have real world results — reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions while saving water and other scarce resources,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Amyris and Solazyme are on the cutting edge, creating sustainable solutions for our most challenging energy issues and helping to grow California’s economy.”

The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards were presented in five categories: academic, small business, greener synthetic pathways, greener reaction conditions and designing greener chemicals.