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!


EPA Finalizes Updates to Air Standards for Future Wood Heaters

February 4, 2015

Phased-in updates will ensure a smooth transition to cleaner and more efficient wood heaters

 WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing standards to limit the amount of pollution that wood heaters, which will be manufactured and sold in the future, can emit. These standards, which were last updated in 1988, reflect the significantly improved technology that is now available to make a range of models cleaner burning and more efficient. Today’s final rule will provide important health benefits to communities across the country and will be phased in over a five-year period, giving manufacturers time to adapt their product lines to develop the best next-generation models to meet these new standards. The final rule does not affect current heaters already in use in homes today. It also does not replace state or local requirements governing wood heater use. Instead, it ensures that consumers buying wood heaters anywhere in the United States in the future will be able to choose from cleaner-burning models.

Wood heaters, which are used around the clock in some areas, can increase particle pollution, sometimes called soot to levels that pose serious health concerns. Particle pollution is linked to a wide range of serious health effects, including heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks. People with heart, vascular or lung disease, older adults and children are the most at risk from particle pollution exposure. Smoke from wood heaters also includes volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and air toxics. EPA’s updated standards will build on the work that states and local communities have done to improve air quality in these communities and are based on significant improvements in technology.  Continue reading EPA Finalizes Updates to Air Standards for Future Wood Heaters

Burn Better: Burnwise

Posted: January 14, 2015

Whether you’re using a woodstove, pellet stove, or fireplace, smoke from your chimney means your fire isn’t burning as efficiently or cleanly as it could. Burn only dry, seasoned wood, and start a fire with dry kindling. Never burn painted or treated wood, which releases toxic chemicals . Get more tips for safe, efficient (and enjoyable!) wood burning.
See also — videos about drying firewood and reducing wood smoke and asthma triggers.

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.

Report: Vampire equipment sucking power and draining wallets

Posted on July 2, 2014
Source: Fuel

WASHINGTON — The price people pay for always-on, around-the-clock Internet connections with modems, cell phones and laptops may be higher than they think.

According to a new report from the International Energy Agency, all of those networked electronic devices are sucking up a whole lot of electricity — mostly just to maintain their Internet connections — generating $80 billion worth of wasted power in 2013.

For the average household, the bill runs to “many tens of dollars per year, per device,” said Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the Paris-based IEA. “This may not sound like much, but in 2013, the cumulative impact of 14 billion such devices was … unnecessary operation of over 130 mid-sized coal plants producing around 400 terawatt hours of electricity and all the pollution and carbon emissions that goes with it.”

Power vampires: Household items draining power
Continue reading Report: Vampire equipment sucking power and draining wallets