EarthCon News


Enjoy a Safe Holiday Season

Holiday safety is an issue that is on our minds from late November to mid-January, when families gather, folks take vacations, parties are scheduled, and travel increases. Taking some basic precautions can ensure that you and your family remain safe and injury-free throughout the season.

Traveling? Be Prepared!
Many people choose to travel via automobile during the holidays. Automobile travel has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). According to Injury Facts 2017, in 2015, 355 people died on New Year’s Day, 386 on Thanksgiving Day, and 273 on Christmas Day. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represent about 1/3 of the totals.

Follow these tips to help get you and your family where they need to go safely:
  • Use a designated driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a holiday party; alcohol, prescription, over-the-counter, and/or illegal drugs can all cause impairment.
  • Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up, no matter how long or short the distance traveled. If children are in car seats, make sure the seats are installed properly and children are not wearing puffy clothing, which decrease the effectiveness of the harness systems in the event of an accident.
  • Put those cell phones away – many distractions can occur while driving, but cell phones are a major culprit.
  • Properly maintain your vehicle and keep an emergency kit with you (your safety bags w/ reflective vests are perfect to keep in your trunks … hint hint).
  • Be prepared for heavy traffic and inclement weather.
Decorations can Hurt!
Decorating is one of the best ways to get in a holiday mood, but emergency rooms see thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating every season! Follow these tips to help get you and your family where they need to go safely:
  • Artificial snow sprays can be pretty, but can irritate your lungs if inhaled. Make sure to follow usage instructions carefully.
  • Decorate the tree with kids and pets in mind – move breakable ornaments and metal hooks to the top so they don’t fall and injure little ones.
  • Always use a proper step ladder when putting up decorations – NOT chairs, the couch, a table, etc. And make sure the ladder is opened completely before climbing.
  • Keep your lights in good repair making sure there aren’t any exposed or frayed wires, loose connections, or broken sockets. Make sure not to overload your electrical circuits.
  • Keep plants that may be poisonous (including some poinsettias) out of reach of children or pets – the national Poison Control Center can be reached at 800-222-1222 – keep the number handy!
  • Make sure paths are kept clear so no one trips on wrapping paper, decorations, lights, etc. Good housekeeping is just as important at home as it is at the office!
Watch out for Fire Starters!
Thousands of deaths are caused by fires, burns, and other fire-related injuries every year, and 12% of home candle fires occur in December, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Increased use of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations present in many homes increases the fire risk.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle.
  • Keep candles on stable surfaces, out of reach of children and pets.
  • Do not burn candles near trees, curtains, or any other flammable items.
  • Do not burn trees, wreaths, or wrapping paper in the fireplace – make sure you dispose of those items appropriately.
  • Make sure you check and clean your chimney and fireplace area at least once a year.
  • If you’re using the fireplace, keep the area clear of children or pet toys, and keep the kids and pets away from the area until the fire is completely out and the area is cooled down and cleaned of debris.
More information on holiday safety is available on the National Safety Council website, as well as the National Fire Protection Association website. Have a safe and happy holiday!
Julia Wilson, 12/21/2017, Houston



AGU Presentation

Last week, Dr. Charles Thibault of EarthCon’s Memphis office attended and presented a poster at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in New Orleans, LA. The AGU meeting is the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world with a myriad of presentations and poster sessions available.

The poster presented was entitled “Ground Truthing Hurricane Nate to Validate Bathtub Models of Inundation in Coastal Harrison County, MS.” It was submitted in the “Late-Breaking Research Related to the 2017 Hurricane Season in the Americas.” The poster was the only entry to evaluate the unusually high surge associated with Nate, a category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, and it received a lot of interest at the meeting. The results presented in the poster are preliminary, and the finalized results are currently being prepared for journal submittal.




EarthCon completed the field work associated with a floor trench clean-out in the basement of a former paper mill for a national wood products company using the services of a trusted local environmental remediation contractor. Approximately 3 tons of solids containing asbestos, PCB, and dioxin were removed for proper off-site disposal. The waste removal was conducted in accordance with applicable asbestos remediation procedures. The floor trenches were power-washed after waste removal. Approximately 300 gallons of wash water was contained for proper off-site disposal. This project is the second phase of floor trench clean-out conducted at this site. The first phase of work was a larger project which resulted in the proper off-site disposal of 23 tons of waste pulp, 12.5 tons of waste solids and 11,700 gallons of wastewater in 2014. For these projects, EarthCon conducted the waste characterization testing, prepared the waste cleanout engineering specifications, conducted the bidding process, recommended and subcontracted the chosen remediation contractor, provided full-time field oversight, and prepared a summary report with field work and waste disposal documentation for our client. EarthCon worked successfully with the 3rd-party property owner and our client to manage groundwater inflow into the degraded trench system while conducting the waste removal work. The remediation specifications were prepared in sufficient detail and the remediation contractor was closely managed so as to avoid change orders. The only approved change orders had to do with unforeseen actual site conditions. The total project costs to date are approximately $320,000.
Douglas Seeley, 11/6/2017, Boston



Successful Groundwater Monitoring Reduction

Recently, EarthCon successfully petitioned the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) to substantially reduce the semiannual groundwater monitoring program at a closed solid waste landfill in southeastern Virginia. In accordance with the Virginia Solid Waste Management Regulations, certain constituents are eligible for elimination from the groundwater monitoring program if they have not detected for a period of two years. EarthCon identified 22 constituents eligible for elimination from the monitoring program, including sulfide, mercury, pesticides, herbicides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and cyanide. In May 2017, VDEQ concurred and approved the elimination of those 22 constituents from the semiannual monitoring program. This reduction provided a substantial cost savings for the client in both laboratory fees and field sampling time. Creating environmental solutions that support and fulfill our clients’ business goals is our main focus in every project—that means identifying potential cost-saving opportunities in each project when possible. If your groundwater monitoring program has not been recently optimized, we at EarthCon would like to hear from you. We can likely identify sampling reduction opportunities that will reduce your project costs and liability. Please contact us at 770-973-2100.
Keaton Henry, P.G. and Jessica Turner, P.G., 10/17/2017, Georgia



Proposed HSRA Rule Revisions in Georgia

Currently, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is in the process of proposing revisions to the Rules for the Hazardous Site Response Act (HSRA). The HSRA Rule outlines the obligations for Georgia property owners regarding notifications of hazardous substance releases, environmental investigation requirements, and cleanup standards, also known as risk reduction standards (RRS). The purpose of the proposed Rule change is to update and standardize the methodology used to calculate the HSRA RRS. Over the past several months, two representatives from EarthCon’s Atlanta Diamond have participated in a series of stakeholder meetings to provide feedback and recommendations for the forthcoming rule changes. Once the final draft of the proposed Rule change has been generally accepted by participating stakeholders, EPD plans to present the proposed Rule change to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Board for consideration.
Jessica Turner, 9/5/2017, Georgia



EarthCon’s Nonie McKnight at the Mississippi Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association

The Mississippi Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association convention was held from July 20 through July 21 with Nonie McKnight attending. The petroleum marketers and convenience store operators meet annually to discuss the organization’s National platform and bills introduced into the State legislation which may have an impact on their business, as well as discussing any business concerns of the members. There were also social events to mingle and further their working relationships. Many of the Gulf’s clients are Petroleum Marketers and it was a great opportunity to spend time clients and potential clients.
Nonie McKnight, 8/3/2017, Mississippi



EarthCon’s Madison Office at the Breakfast with the Regulators

On July 19, 2017, Nonie McKnight, Jason McIlwain, Roy Hill, and Annie McIlwain (all Gulf Coast) attended the Breakfast with the Regulators meeting at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The meeting consisted of learning the new organizational structure of MDEQ and potential changes at MDEQ due to the new administration, new regulations, and retirement of managers at MDEQ. EarthCon was able to touch base with several MDEQ employees, fellow consultants, and HSE managers from Mississippi industries at the meeting.
Nonie McKnight, 7/20/2017, Mississippi



EarthCon at the MLMA Convention!

On July 7, 2017, Kirk Giessinger (Gulf Coast), Christine Justice (Houston), and Annie McIlwain (Gulf Coast) attended and manned the booth at the Mississippi Lumber Manufacturers Association (MLMA) Annual Convention at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi. EarthCon was one of two environmental and health & safety consultants at the convention. The convention was well attended by lumber manufacturers throughout the South. EarthCon made valuable contacts with these lumber manufacturers as well as vendors, and we were proud to support such an active industry in our state.
Kirk Giessinger, 7/11/2017, Mississippi