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Stormwater Pollution Prevention

What Is Stormwater Management and Why Is It Important?

Stormwater Pollution PreventionStormwater management is the effort to reduce runoff of rainwater or melted snow into streets, lawns and other sites and the improvement of water quality, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

When stormwater is absorbed into the soil, it is filtered and ultimately replenishes aquifers or flows into streams and rivers. However, when heavy rainwater hits, ground saturated by water creates excess moisture that runs across the surface and into storm sewers and road ditches. This water often carries debris, chemicals, bacteria, eroded soil, and other pollutants, and carries them into streams, rivers, lakes, or wetlands.

So, how does stormwater management help?

In urban and developed areas, impervious surfaces such as pavement and roofs prevent precipitation from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, water runs rapidly into storm drains, sewer systems and drainage ditches and can cause flooding, erosion, turbidity (or muddiness), storm and sanitary sewer system overflow, and infrastructure damage. However, stormwater design and “green infrastructure” capture and reuse stormwater to maintain or restore natural hydrologies.

Detaining stormwater and removing pollutants is the primary purpose of stormwater management. Pervious Surfaces that are porous and allow rainfall and snowmelt to soak into the soil, Gray infrastructure, such as culverts, gutters, storm sewers, conventional piped drainage, and Blue/Green infrastructure that protect, restore, or mimic the natural water cycle, all play a part in stormwater management.

How can you help?

Educating yourself on where rainwater and snowmelt flow on your property when it doesn’t get absorbed into the ground is a huge first step. Implementing best management practices to reduce runoff and to make sure that it is clean when it leaves your property is the next step.

Stormwater MS4 InspectionsOur staff at EEC Environmental (EEC) has been specializing in stormwater compliance for more than 20 years. EEC can aid anyone looking to improve stormwater management on their property with our experience in developing stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs), sharing best management practices (BMPs), assisting with design, municipal separate storm and sewer systems (MS4), conducting inspections, and helping clients with Level 1 & 2 ERAs compliance.

Our staff has assisted both MS4 programs and industrial facilities with compliance issues as part of these services. EEC develops Local Implementation Plans (LIPs) that include program management and the inventory, prioritization, and inspection of industrial, commercial, and municipal facilities.

EEC’s Stormwater/National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) group has developed and implemented municipal, industrial, commercial, and construction programs to achieve full compliance with federal, state, and local stormwater regulations.

Successful implementation and management of a stormwater program demand a clear understanding of the NPDES permit requirements and solid teamwork between staff and consultants/contractors. EEC stands poised to support any city or industrial facility with their stormwater compliance needs, having supported other cities and industrial facilities with the development and implementation of their stormwater/NPDES programs, as well as having developed multiple LIPs.

Please click here if you need assistance with stormwater concerns.

OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Found Safety Violations (Infographic)

When it comes to compliance, you can learn a lot by reviewing the safety requirements that OSHA most frequently finds to be in violation. This enables you to review your own operations for similar compliance issues and implement corrective action before OSHA comes calling. View the Infographic below to learn more about OSHA’s top 10 most frequently found safety violations.

 Infographic created by EEC Environmental; Information was taken from OSHA.

1 – Fall Protection in Construction Work: Consider your work area. Are there locations from which someone could fall? What sort of protection is in place to prevent a fall? And is there equipment to stop a fall?

2 – Hazard Communication: You must ensure that the hazards of all chemicals are labeled correctly. The requirements must be consistent with the provisions of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling Chemicals (GHS).

3 – Scaffolding in Construction Work: Inspect and check daily. Take no chances. Scaffolding must be inspected by the scaffolding contractor after erection, and before use. Don’t remove or allow removal of any parts. Leave this to the scaffolding contractor only.

4 – Respiratory Protection: If you use a respirator, you must be cleanly shaven. Facial hair limits the effectiveness of the face-to-facepiece seal. Fit testing is also required prior to respirator use.

5 – Lockout/Tagout: Lockout/tagout is more than just putting a lock on the main electrical disconnect to a machine or part of a machine. You should always follow the lockout/tagout plan and verify that each potential hazard has been “de-energized” before starting a job.

6 – Powered Industrial Trucks: Ensure that a daily lift truck inspection is completed for each lift truck, prior to use. Do not use a lift truck if the checklist shows that maintenance is required.

7 – Ladders in Construction Work: All ladders shall be maintained in a safe condition and inspected regularly, with the intervals between inspections being determined by use and exposure. Those which have developed defects shall be withdrawn from service for repair or destruction and tagged or marked as “Dangerous, Do Not Use.”

8 – Electrical Wiring, Components, Equipment: Is there any exposed wiring in your work area? Are there any open receptacles? Is all the equipment properly grounded?

9 – General Machine Guarding: It is important that everyone working with or around machinery understands that no guard shall be adjusted or removed. No machine should be started without guards in place. If you see that guards are missing or defective, report it to your supervisor immediately.

10 – Electrical General Requirements: It is a violation when employers use equipment in the workplace that has only been labeled and listed for home use. Never use an extension cord as a permanent connection. An extension cord must be put away at the end of each task.

Why Do In-Situ Remediation Projects Fail?

In-Situ remediation refers to the cleanup of contamination in-place without the costly removal/ex-situ treatment of the soil and/or groundwater. In-situ remediation is often a logical choice for remediating a site due to the inherent cost savings; however, in some cases in-situ remediation is ineffective.

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Industrial laundry washing machines in dry cleaner's workshop, PERC

EEC Provides Dry Cleaner Remediation Solutions

Dry Cleaner contamination has become a significant liability for many individuals and retail shopping center owners. The remediation of chlorinated solvents, specifically tetrachloroethene (PCE), from dry cleaning operations can place an extreme financial burden on a company as it can impact not only the existing dry cleaner location but it can also have ramifications for adjacent suites and shopping centers as a whole.

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EEC Helps Clients Recover Millions in Environmental Investigation and Remediation Costs from Old Insurance Policies

Insurance Cost Recovery – Are you staring at a costly site remediation or Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) allocation? Did these releases start before 1985? Did you have a comprehensive general liability (CGL) insurance policy at the time or did you purchase or acquire a property that was contaminated by others, in which the prior owner may have had a CGL policy?

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ABA SEER 46th Annual Spring Conference

EEC exhibited at the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, or  ABA SEER, 46th Annual Spring Conference in Los Angeles, California, in March.

EEC’s extensive litigation support and expert witness experience include:

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So You Want to Build a Safety Culture?

So You Want to Build a Safety Culture? by Pat Karol
Imagine you get a call from your operations manager the Saturday evening of Labor Day weekend. Sue is calling to tell you that Joe, a hardworking employee with 15 years of experience fell 21 feet and is in the hospital. Joe’s lucky—he’s going to make it.

There was an issue with the fall protection gear, and Sue is investigating. This is the third time this year employees have encountered fall protection issues. Usually, that means there wasn’t any protection. No one has been seriously injured though, until today.

“Why can’t they just follow procedures? Why can’t they get it right? Enough is enough,” you think. “I’ve got to get tough!”

You intend to build a strong safety culture and ask Sue to meet you Tuesday morning in your office. In the meantime, you issue an edict that anyone caught not following procedures will be sent home and disciplined.

You know you must improve your safety culture, but is that the best way? Building a safety culture has as much to do with leadership as it does with managing safety. It has to do with creating an environment in which employees are “buying” safety and not being “sold” safety. In this environment, following procedures is second nature.

How do you properly build a safety culture? Continue reading Pat Karol’s article “So You Want to Build a Safety Culture?” in Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) Journal. In it, you’ll find some fundamental but often overlooked steps in creating minimal risk environments.

As EEC’s previous Safety Director, Pat has extensive experience in assessing safety cultures and safety management systems. He spoke at PEI’s conference in October of 2016, an event that brought together thousands of professionals in the gas station/fuel delivery industry. You can check out this article in the link below.

Karol, Patrick J. “So You Want to Build a Safety Culture?” Petroleum Equipment Institute Journal. 4th Quarter 2016: 50-53. Print.

EEC Environmental Welcomes Senior Project Geologist

Jeff Hensel, PG Senior Project Geologist

EEC Environmental (EEC) is proud to announce and welcome Senior Project Geologist, Jeff Hensel, PG. Mr. Hensel’s responsibilities include technical oversight of site investigation and remediation projects, client development, staff mentorship, as well as general management responsibilities.

Mr. Hensel comes to EEC with more than 29 years of site investigation and remediation experience with a proven track record of technical project execution; project, liability and contractor management; project safety; governmental agency interaction; stakeholder engagement; staff mentorship; and customer satisfaction. He has an industry reputation for finding innovative cost-effective solutions for clients, thorough technical data analysis, strong organizational skills, and completing high-quality work.

Technical areas of expertise include Phase I ESAs; soil, soil gas, and groundwater investigations; and site remediation.  Jeff has experience with monitored natural attenuation, SVE systems, groundwater pump & treat systems, product recovery, chemical oxidation, enhanced bioremediation, air sparging, chemical fixation, and soil washing remedial technologies.

Mr. Hensel is a Professional Registered Geologist in California, Kentucky, and Wyoming.

Read more about EEC’s dedicated staff here.

EEC Honored To Host Chinese Delegation of Mayors

EEC hosts Chinese delegation of mayors

EEC Environmental (EEC) was honored to host a delegation of mayors representing 12 cities from the province of Shangdong, China.  The purpose of the visit was to observe state-of-the-art technologies for soil and groundwater remediation and industrial wastewater treatment.

The visit included tours of an operating soil and groundwater remediation system installed and operated by EEC and an industrial laundry facility using ceramic microfiltration to treat and recycle their wastewater.  The field visit was followed by two presentations at EEC’s Orange County office.

The first, an in-depth presentation of hydrogeologic processes, site investigation techniques and the latest soil and groundwater remediation techniques that would be applicable to pollution issues in the Shandong province.  The second, a presentation of the latest advanced wastewater treatment technologies that could be used by industries to improve Shangdong surface water quality.

EEC  provides an array of industrial pretreatment consulting services for wastewater agencies and private industries utilizing experienced engineers and chemists that are uniquely skilled in industrial wastewater issues. For agencies, EEC conducts local limits evaluations, develops industrial pretreatment ordinances and enforcement response plans, and assists in industrial user permitting. For industries, EEC designs and builds wastewater pretreatment systems and performs pretreatment system evaluations for flows up to 2.5 millions of gallons per day (MGD). EEC has unique expertise in developing technically based local limits and ensuring that industrial users have reasonable discharge permits.

EEC has also created and conducts an operator training program for industrial wastewater dischargers and assists industries in achieving compliance with their wastewater discharge requirements.

EEC also has significant experience with the evaluation of industrial laundry facilities that have been impacted by petroleum, chlorinated solvents, and other contaminants. EEC performs a wide range of activities for the laundry industry, including Phase I Environmental Site Assessments‎ (ESAs), compliance services, Phase II subsurface investigations, insurance cost-recovery, remedial services, regulatory negotiations, and litigation support.

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EEC Vice President Spoke At Oil Extraction Symposium

A panel of scientists
Photo by Paul Rodriguez, OC Register Staff Photographer

EEC Environmental (EEC) Vice President, and Principal Hydrogeologist, Mark Zeko spoke at California State University, Fullerton’s campus as a panelist on Symposium on the Impact of Oil Extraction in North Orange County. The panel was comprised of distinguished scientists and industry representatives with expertise in hydraulic fracturing and its environmental impact.

Mr. Zeko addressed the environmental impact questions. EEC’s Vice President is a registered professional geologist/hydrogeologist who is licensed in 14 states and specializes in the remediation of groundwater, soil, and soil vapor impacted by industrial and commercial land use.

Mr. Zeko who is an expert in the field of hydrogeology and environmental geology spoke to the potential impact of oil pumping – including fracking – on groundwater and water quality.

Representatives of the local oil industry also presented information about ongoing oil drilling in north Orange County. Representatives of the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Energy Resources – the government entity responsible for overseeing oil production in California – was also on hand to discuss regulatory and policy aspects of oil drilling.

Click the following link for more information: http://nsm.fullerton.edu/fracking/panelists

Updated: Highlight of last nights conference on the Orange County Register.


EEC’s Mark Zeko Honored With CSUF Alumni of the Year Award

EEC Environmental (EEC) Vice President and Principal Hydrogeologist, Mark Zeko, was presented with the 2014 Geological Sciences Alumni of the Year Award at Cal State Fullerton’s Department of Geological Sciences’ 5th Annual Geology Research Day. Mark was honored for his continued commitment to the Department as well as his ongoing contributions to the environmental industry.

Mark graduated from C.S.U.F. with a Bachelor of Science in Geology in 1987 and a Master of Science in Environmental Science / Hydrogeology in 1994. Since then, Mark has built a career as a renowned professional in the environmental industry specializing in the remediation of groundwater, soil, and soil vapor impacted by industrial and commercial land uses.

Mark is a registered professional geologist/hydrogeologist in 14 states whose distinguished career in geology has led him throughout the United States and abroad. During his career, he has presented numerous lectures at both scientific and trade association conferences.

He is currently pursuing expansion opportunities in California’s emerging and hotly debated hydraulic fracturing, or fracking industry where he seeks to help devise regulations and guidelines for the safe and environmentally responsible extraction of natural resources using this method. The issue is now at the forefront of policymaking efforts, especially in California, which is expected to set a precedent for regulation of the American energy industry. Mark currently speaks throughout the country on the emerging policies, risks, and opportunities that will give shape to the fracking industry in the coming years.

Mark has employed many C.S.U.F. alumni at EEC and generously volunteers his knowledge and time to mentor C.S.U.F. undergraduates in developing successful careers. Through his and his wife, Janet’s (also a C.S.U.F. alum), donations the C.S.U.F. Department of Geological Sciences was able to hold its first annual alumni event this past fall 2013.

For his professional accomplishments and personal commitment to the C.S.U.F. Department of Geological Sciences, Mark is a prime example to the CSUF community, and the professional community at large, of the value of a C.S.U.F. education and therefore deserves to be named the Geological Sciences Alumni of the Year in 2014.

Read the original post by Cal State University, Fullerton here.

EEC Covers Hydraulic Fracturing At 16th Annual CUPA Training Conference

EEC Environmental Vice President and Principal Hydrogeologist, Mark Zeko, spoke at the 16th Annual California CUPA Training Conference at the San Francisco Hyatt in Burlingame, CA.

Mark covered Hydraulic Fracturing during a session at the conference and participated, along with other regulatory inspectors and industry professionals, in some of the training offered by Local, State, and Federal environmental agencies. Some of the topics covered included hazardous materials risk management, hazardous waste, regulatory enforcement, emergency response, and environmental administration and management.

The California CUPA Forum is a statewide alliance of Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPAs) and Participating Agencies (collectively known as Unified Program Agencies-UPAs) that implement the Unified Program under California Health and Safety Code Division 20, Chapter 6.11. The organization works to update and continuously improve the Unified Program for the agencies, businesses, and communities served.

This conference provides training in subjects related to enhancing the Unified Program implementation and improving consistency and coordination between the 84 CUPAs and 32 participating agencies (PAs) throughout California.

Other topics such as counting universal waste in California, new requirements for hazardous materials business plans, land disposal restrictions, documentation of outside training, and California-specific hazardous waste training were also covered at the conference.

Soil Vapor Extraction: A Proven Method of Reducing VOCs in Environmental Media

Soil vapor extractionSoil vapor extraction (SVE) is a proven in-situ technology used to remediate various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from soil and soil vapor within the vadose zone. Vapor extraction involves applying a vacuum throughout the area of soil that has been impacted by VOCs. Through the pressure differential created between the extraction wells and the surrounding soil, VOCs are stripped from the soil by moving air through the vadose soil zone. The applied vacuum, contaminant characteristics, soil type, and the volume of air passing through the soil dictate the time required to remediate a site using SVE.

SVE is most effective for sites with (1) permeable soils where the wells are screened within distinct units and the site is capped or paved, and (2) on VOCs, such as many chlorinated solvents and hydrocarbons, that have high vapor pressures. Therefore, EEC strongly recommends that a pilot test is performed to evaluate and confirm the applicability of this or any remediation method. SVE also has the added advantage of mitigating the potential for soil vapor intrusion by removing vapor-phase VOCs trapped in the subsurface beneath buildings. SVE will remove the potential pathway for vapor migration to indoor air by creating and sustaining an applied vacuum to the subsurface, thereby creating a negative pressure gradient beneath the structure.

A generic SVE system is composed primarily of subsurface wells, remediation piping, a blower that exerts the vacuum, and the remediation equipment. The equipment needed will be determined based on the contaminant of concern. The two most commonly employed remediation equipment are thermal oxidizers and vessels filled with carbon-absorbent material. In an SVE system targeting chlorinated solvents, generally, two or three vessels are fitted together in series and filled with granular activated carbon. As the constituents of concern flow through the vessels they are absorbed into the carbon, thereby decreasing in concentration. In an SVE system targeting hydrocarbon contaminants of concern, a thermal oxidizer is used to fuel an incinerator that decomposes the hazardous gases then releases them into the atmosphere.

EEC Environmental currently operates and maintains six SVE systems within Southern California and is scheduled to start up a seventh SVE system in Northern California in early 2014. For more information about this or other effective remediation methods, please e-mail contact@eecenvironmental.com to contact a remediation expert.

EEC Attended State Bar of CA Environmental Law Conference Covering Environmental Issues

2013 Environmental Law ConferenceEEC Environmental continued its sponsorship and attendance at the State Bar of California 2013 Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite on October 24–27, 2013.

EEC’s booth provided information about the firm’s litigation support services, including contaminant investigations, remediation, hydraulic fracturing environmental support, industrial wastewater, NPDES compliance, and stormwater.

The Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite is nationally recognized as the largest and most prestigious gathering in California of leaders in environmental, land use, and natural resources law.

The following staff represented our firm at the 2013 conference:

  • John Shaffer, President, and Strategic Advisor
  • Mark Zeko, CHG, PG, Vice President and Principal Hydrogeologist
  • Greg Arthur, PE, Senior Project Engineer and 30-Year Veteran of EPA Clean Water Act Compliance Office
  • Emily Vavricka, MS, Environmental Forensics and Litigation Support Specialist

For more information about the State Bar of California Environmental Law Conference, please visit the State Bar website at http://environmental.calbar.ca.gov/Education/Yosemite.aspx


A Brief History of Hydraulic Fracturing


Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a stimulation process used to extract natural gas (and in some cases oil) from deep reserves 5,000-8,000 feet below the ground surface.  This process allows energy companies to access previously unavailable energy sources in California and other states.

The fracking process involves pumping water, chemicals, and sand (proppant) slurry at high pressure into a well, which fractures the surrounding rock formation and props open passages, allowing natural gas to more freely flow from rock fractures to the production well.  The chemicals used in this process include but are not limited to benzene, gelling agents, crosslinkers, friction reducers, corrosion inhibitors, scale inhibitors, biocides and, in some cases, diesel fuel.

Once the well is developed, the carrying fluid can then flow back to the ground surface along with the gas. However, in most cases, only 20-40% of the carrying fluid flows back to the surface and the rest remains deep in the ground. Initially, the technology used 20,000 to 80,000 gallons of water per well, but today’s advanced fracturing techniques can use up to 8 million gallons of water and 75,000 to 320,000 pounds of sand (proppant) per well.


Despite a history that can be traced back to the 1940s, hydraulic fracturing had not been utilized on a massive scale until 2003, when energy companies began actively expanding natural gas exploration with an emphasis in shale formations in Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wyoming, Utah, and Maryland.

The expansion was aided by a landmark study conducted by the EPA in 2004 which found that hydraulic fracturing posed no threat to underground drinking water supplies.  Shortly afterward, hydraulic fracturing was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act by the Bush administration in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

As the utilization of hydraulic fracturing grows, so does the level of controversy over the practice within the media and neighboring communities. Chief concerns include the high consumption of water resources, the generation of large volumes of wastewater, the irreversible injection of chemicals deep underground and their potential impact on drinking water and surface water resources.

In 2010 the Awareness of Chemicals Act, a bill to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act, was presented to legislators to repeal the 2005 exemption for hydraulic fracturing.  In addition, the EPA asked the companies that perform hydraulic fracturing to turn over data related to their procedures and information on the chemical composition of the fracking fluid and its effects on human health and the environment.

Furthermore, the EPA’s Office of Research and Development began conducting a scientific study to investigate the possible relationships between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water, with the intent to identify potential risks associated with hydraulic fracturing in order to continue protecting national resources and neighboring communities.  The final study results are expected to be released in 2012.

Although fracturing has long been used by California oil operators in drilling operations, to date, hydraulic fracturing has not received the same level of media and regulatory attention that it has in New York and Pennsylvania. Despite this, new state regulations are being drafted to further investigate this issue.

On June 1st, 2011, the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 591, which would impose a number of new public disclosure requirements on operators conducting hydraulic fracturing operations in California. On June 14th, the bill passed the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee but was referred back to the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.  As of now, a date for further review of the bill has not yet been determined.

Hydraulic fracturing has become a key element of natural gas development worldwide, and countries such as Canada, India, England, and China are actively pursuing implementation of this technology to tap into this new source of energy.  Nationally, hydraulic fracturing has brought jobs and revenue to remote rural areas and increased revenues in several states.  However, like any advanced technology, it has also raised questions about its long-term impact on the environment.   We expect research and debate to continue well into the future and we will follow up with new and upcoming regulations.

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