Friday, August 1, 2014

Deadly Hexavalent Chromium in Soil

There are three valences of Chromium: 1) Chromium—safe to humans, 2) Trivalent Chromium—safe and an essential element in humans and 3) Hexavalent Chromium—highly carcinogenic to humans. Erin Brockovich’s fame and fortune came from Erin’s dogged and tenacious quest to defeat Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in the poisoning of the residents of Hinckley, CA by its use of Hexavalent Chromium in its Hinckley facility. PG&E stored Hexavalent Chromium in their cooling towers as a coolant and to prevent rust from forming in its natural gas compressors. Then, they discharged and stored the residual Hexavalent Chromium liquid in unlined ponds contaminating soil, subsequently, the Hexavalent Chromium percolated into the water table, which caused life suffering-cancerous diseases to the residents of Hinckley, that would eventually lead to death. Before Erin came along PG&E was buying up homes in Hinckley and paying medical bills for all the sick residents. This was the cheapest way out for PG&E, relieving them of all liabilities. Ultimately, PG&E, a $21 billion company, settled two Hexavalent Chromium lawsuits in Hinckley, CA for $333 million and Kettleman Hills, CA for $335 million (Erin Brokovich, Wikipedia).
Regulating Hexavalent Chromium
Hexavalent Chromium has caused a mired amount of suffering and deadly diseases that range from asthma, liver disease, lung cancer, stomach cancer, skin cancer, cardiovascular disease, as well as many other deadly cancerous effects to external and internal human organs. Hexavalent Chromium cancer clusters can be isolated and identified to specific areas of our environment, such as former Chromium manufacturing sites and those dumping sites, as well as in coal ash and their unlined dumping sites.
Although the EPA has no standard that regulates the cleanup of Hexavalent Chromium, it does regulate the permissible limits for Hexavalent Chromium in soil and Water. The EPA, in order to ensure safe drinking water, has an enforceable drinking water standard of 0.1 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or 100 parts per billion (ppb) for total chromium, which includes Hexavalent chromium and Trivalent Chromium. In fact, California has set its regulatory limit of 10 ppb for Hexchrome, which went into effect July 1st. A national set by EPA won’t be far behind.2 The EPA’s permissible limit for Hexavalent Chromium in soil would have to be detected by a Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP). When tested by TCLP the hazardous contaminant in the soil must be under 5µg/L. 

EPA’s Exposure Limits

Hexavalent Chromium’s allowable permissible exposure limit (PEL) in an eight-hour work period is a Total Weight Average (TWA) of 5 micrograms per cubic meter(µg/m3), meaning that over the course of any 8-hour work shift, the average exposure to the worker cannot exceed 5µg/m3. The Action Level—the level of exposure to a harmful substance or otherhazard present in a work environment or situation at which anemployer must take therequired precautions to protect the workers—is normally one half of the permissible exposure limit. For Hexavalent Chromium the action level is setat 2.5 µg/m3 calculated as an eight-hour TWA. Exposures above the Action Leveltrigger specific requirements, and exposures above          the PEL trigger additionalrequirements. The substantive provisions of Hexavalent Chromium standard aredescribed below.
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Exposure Monitoring andDeterminations

Each employer who has a workplace or work operation covered by Hexavalent Chromium standards must determine the eight-hour TWA exposure for each worker exposed to Hexavalent Chromium. To comply with this provision, employers can choose between two options for performing exposure determinations:
  • A scheduled monitoring option
  • A performance-oriented option
When monitoring for Hexavalent Chromium, employers must use a method of monitoring and analysis that provides values within plus or minus.
Exceptions
The Hexavalent Chromium standards do not apply in three situations:
  1. Exposures that occur in the application of pesticides
  2. Exposures to Portland cement
  3. Where the employer has objective data demonstrating that a material containing Hexavalent Chromium or a specific process, operation or activity involving Hexavalent Chromium cannot release dusts, fumes or mists of Hexavalent Chromium in concentrations at or above 0.5 µg/m3 of air as an eight-hour TWA under any expected conditions of use
Concern for the Worker
The aforementioned EPA exposure limits and exceptions started to make me think and ask myself the question: what do current chrome plating manufacturers do to protect the worker?
Chrome plating is certainly a thriving industry, just look at a decked out Harley Davidson motorcycle or any other motorcycle with chrome. I’ve owed a number of motorcycles and I believe I’ve spent more time cleaning them and polishing the chrome than riding them. Given the fact that there is still existing chrome plating businesses, I started to call manufactures that dealt with chrome and chrome plating.
The first manufacturer I called was in business for 30 years. His company just ground and made chrome particles, not from Hexavalent Chrome and not from Trivalent Chrome, but the manufacturer used pure Chrome, which is not toxic, without incidence of worker disease. For protection, the manufacturer’s shop workers wore coveralls that were washed on regular basis and respirators for dust protection while either size reducing or grinding the Chrome to specific particle sizes. The manufacturer used all precautionary measures and followed all environmental, health and safety regulations.
The second manufacturer I called said they switched from using Hexavalent Chromium in their chrome plating operations to the safe-nonhazardous Trivalent Chromium.
The third manufacturer I called used Hexavalent chromium in its plating operations. I asked if the workers wore protective clothing and respirators; his answer was no. I asked how the workers were protected; his answer was powerful fume hoods over the plating vats that allowed a safe working environment. He also explained that any sludge left over from the plating operation was sent to be incinerated, therefore, avoiding any cradle-to-grave liability.
If all industry that handled hazardous, toxic and regulated wastes thought to avoid cradle-to-grave liability, our environment and children would thrive in the future and not have to deal with the environmental problems left to them. This brings me to Hexavalent Chromium in soil left to our generation to deal with, as well as the problems with the cleanup processes that have been tested to rid our environment of the deadly chemical compound.
Hexavalent Chromium in Soil
Hexavalent Chromium in soil comes from Chromium ore processing residue that was used as fill, dumped on sites close to or behind the manufacturing processing facility or used as an equipment rust inhibitor that was dumped in unlined ponds. Eventually these sites became Superfund sites that needed to be cleaned up leaving the taxpayer to bare the financial burden.
Hexavalent Chromium has been found on at least 1,127 of the 1,669 National Priorities List sites identified by the EPA. In New Jersey there are 113 sites contaminated with Hexavalent Chromium in soil.
For example, the Port of Baltimore, renamed the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore, is approximately 580 acres of which approximately 148 acres of soil is contaminated with Hexavalent Chromium. It was used as fill generated by Allied Signals chrome plating operation. The Hexavalent Chromium tailings were dumped into the Port to expand the working area.
According to Earth Justice (www.earthjustice.org), “…unlined coal ash dump site’s leachate has Hexavalent Chromium that precipitates into the local water table … The federal government does not currently regulate the disposal of coal ash, the toxic waste created by coal-fired power plants that’s known to contain potentially dangerous levels of heavy metals, combustion byproducts and radioactive elements … The report identifies 28 coal ash dump sites from Massachusetts to Nevada where Hexavalent Chromium has been detected in the groundwater at levels exceeding federal or state standards. Most of the sites are at power plants, though the list also includes landfills and a golf course in Chesapeake, VA that was built on coal ash fill. Given the lack of comprehensive federal monitoring requirements for coal ash disposal facilities, the report says that these 28 sites are likely just ‘the tip of the iceberg.’” Given the above facts, Hexavalent Chromium is a scary and deadly carcinogen that must be treated to a humanly safe state.
Hexavalent Chromium Disposal and Treatment Options
The first option is to send Hexavalent Chromium in soil to a landfill that will take it and is able to treat it to meet the required standard set by the landfill. If it can’t be treated to its required level, the landfill will not take it. The limited amounts of landfills that take Hexavalent Chromium are in remote areas far from the contaminated sites. Trucking and treatment are a huge expense per ton. Also, landfilling does not take the cradle-to-grave liability away.
The Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore has paved over the portion contaminated with Hexavalent Chromium soil with asphalt and cement and has relined its sewer disposal system to minimize the discharge of Hexavalent Chromium into the Bay.
There are problems with paving over the Hexavalent Chromium in soil: the first is that the Hexavalent Chromium in soil has a high pH and tends to be unstable due to the combination of Carbon Dioxide + Calcium Oxide = Calcium Carbonate that causes the reactive tailings to buckle the pavement or rise up through the pavement; the second is wear and tear on the pavement from heavy industrial traffic; the third is digging into the pavement for a new structure placement or an underground repair, disturbing the Hexavalent Chromium soil, causing it to become airborn.
Hexavalent Chromium in soil has many other constituents and contaminates in its matrix.  Many treatments have been tried, but do not attack the complete matrix to transform the Hexavalent Chromium to Trivalent Chromium. These treatments include, but are not limited to, Solidification, In Situ with Calcium Polysulphide, Soil Washing, Electrokinetics, Bioremediation, Electron Energy, Extraction, Calcium Polysulfide Remediation and Sol-Gel Stabilization and a few others.
There is one emerging technology that fully attacks the matrix of Hexavalent Chromium in Soil consistently turning into Trivalent Chromium, holds the pH to 7 and does not swell or buckle
Chromium Treatment: Hexavalent Chromium to Trivalent Chromium Test Results
Overview
Samples of Hexavalent Chromium were treated to convert Hexavalent Chromium to Trivalent Chromium. The basis for the treatment is outlined below:
  1. The soil and rocks were crushed through a shredder and mixed together to make a homogeneous sample.
  2. After doing several laboratory tests, different combinations of chemicals in combination were used to treat the homogeneous sample.
  3. pH was checked on each sample of Hexavalent Chromium soil before, pH 12-13, and after conversion of the Hexavalent Chromium to Trivalent Chromium solid, and residual liquids and solids easily adjusted to pH 6-7.
  4. Samples were filtered and the solids sent to the lab for total Chromium content, Trivalent Chromium, and Hexavalent Chromium analyses (7196, 6010B analysis).
  5. A swelling study was also done to test if the treated Chromium soil would swell. Photos of the homogeneous Chromium sample expansion study are exhibited in Attachment A. There was no swelling of the converted Hexavalent Chromium to Trivalent Chromium soil over a six month period, and again, checked approximately a little over two years later 4/2/2014, showed no buckling or swelling of the converted Hexavalent Chromium to Trivalent Chromium soil, covered or uncovered.
All test results analyzed by EMSL Analytical, Inc. proved the conversion of Hexavalent Chromium (none detected in all the results) to Trivalent Chromium.
Results
The 7196, 6010B test result of total calculations of the conversion of Hexavalent Chromium to Trivalent Chromium, bench top samples, are consistent with all previous bench top testing exhibited in Table 1, page 5. The 7196, 6010B test result of total calculations of residual liquid filtered from converted Hexavalent Chromium to Trivalent Chromium treated solids is exhibited in Table 2, page 5. The 7196, 6010B test results of total calculations of the converted Hexavalent Chromium to Trivalent Chromium tested in the Pilot Plant exhibited in Table 3, page 5.
Captions
Table 1
Bench Top Sample Analyzed by 7196, 6010B Test. NOTE: 7196, 6010B calculations are in parts per million.
Sample ID
7196, 6010B
Sample CS
Cr3: 11000, Cr6: ND
Table 2
Filtered Residual Liquid Analyzed by 7196, 6010B Test.
Sample ID
7196, 6010B Calculation
Sample CL
Cr3: ND, Cr6: ND
Table 3
Samples Tested in the Pilot Plant Analyzed by 7196, 6010B Tests. NOTE: 7196, 6010B calculations are in parts per million.
Sample ID
Samples of Hexavalent Chromium
7196, 6010B Calculations
RM1
Test 1
Cr3: 11000, Cr6: ND
RM2
Test 2
Cr3: 9200, Cr6: ND
RM3
Test 3
Cr3: 8200, Cr6: ND
RM4
Test 4
Cr3: 7400, Cr6: ND
Figure 1 – 3
Photos of the Converted Chromium Soil Expansion Study, No Swelling
  • Chromium Soil with Sample FC (Filtered Close Lid) and Sample FO (Filtered Open with No Lid)
Chrom1    
  • Top View of the Chromium Sample with the Closed Lid (No Swelling)
Chrom2
  • Top View of the Chromium Sample with No Lid, Open Top (No Swelling)
Chrom3
Figure 4 – 5
The photos below taken approximate two years later, 4/02/2014 at 8:17PM show no signs of swelling or buckling.
  • Side View of Chromium Soil with Sample FC (Filtered Close Lid) and Sample FO (Filtered Open with No Lid)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Top View of the Chromium Sample with the Closed Lid (No Swelling) and Top View of the Chromium Sample with No Lid, Open Top (No Swelling)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Images courtesy of ABCOV®
Conclusion and Benefits of Changing Hexavalent Chromium in Soil to Trivalent Chromium in Soil:
The results of the aforementioned emerging Hexavalent Chromium in soil to Trivalent Chromium in soil technology will solve a multiple of the problems that may be encountered with other treatments of Hexavalent Chromium in soil to Trivalent Chromium in soil:
  • The process chemicals adjust the pH to a neutral status, therefore stopping any future swelling or buckling of the soil.
  • Once changed from Hexavalent Chromium in soil to Trivalent Chromium in soil it can be put right back into the site, avoiding the cost of buying and trucking fill back into the site.
  • The Hexavalent Chromium in soil to Trivalent Chromium in soil process treatment is done right on site avoiding long distance trucking of Hexavalent Chromium in soil through neighborhoods and over highways, avoiding any possible exposure and possible liability.
  • Using this merging technology will stop all cradle – to – grave liability created by the landfilling of Hexavalent Chromium in soil by insuring the generator from being a Potential Responsible Party under the Superfund Act.
  • Hexavalent Chromium in soil to Trivalent Chromium in soil will stop the Hexavalent Chromium from becoming dangerously air borne or, more deadly, migrating into the water table.
  • The process incorporates the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
  • Most importantly, the aforementioned process attacks the Hexavalent Chromium matrix/binder completely to insure the change from Hexavalent Chromium in soil to Trivalent Chromium in soil.   
Why Treat Hexavalent Chromium in Soil to Trivalent Chromium on Site
Landfills that allow Hexavalent Chromium in soil to be dumped must treat Hexavalent Chromium down to a 3 ppm, “Waste Management Site, Emelle, Al”. If the ppm is too high when entering the landfill and the Hexavalent Chromium in soil cannot be treated, it is sent back to its generator, a costly procedure.
As previously mentioned above there are 113 sites in New Jersey a distance of approximately 1,100 miles or a 16 to 18 hour drive from Jersey City, N.J. to Emelle, Al.
Between the cost of trucking, taxes and gas charges for the trucking of the Hexavalent Chromium in soil to the dump site, as well treatment, if possible, at the dump site and the cradle – to – grave liability carried through perpetuity, it pays to treat the Hexavalent Chromium in soil to Trivalent Chromium in soil on site.
Further, there are a very limited amount of hazardous waste landfills that will take Hexavalent Chromium in soil and they are becoming scarcer and scarcer.
US EPA Report: Valuing Potential Environmental Liabilities for Managerial Decision – Making: “All Landfills and Leachate Systems Will Fail” and “By Definition, All Environmental Liabilities Involve Future Costs.
Given the above quotes by EPA, we are never going to see the end of poisoning ourselves as long as we continue to landfill hazardous, toxic and regulated disease-causing, deadly wastes instead of finding and employing environmental technologies to treat these wastes.

“The United States is sinking under a tidal wave of waste with no effective government plan in sight.  It is left for us to act (Zero Waste America)!”

Monday, June 9, 2014

Is Waste Going to be Our Apocalypse Without a Noah’s Ark to Save Us?

The waste industry: landfilling, reduce, recycle, reuse, composting, landfill mining, waste-to-energy facilities, recapturing methane gas and hazardous toxic waste landfill storage. Before moving forward, I want to discuss the difference between price and cost: price is the price we pay, upfront for a product or service. Cost is what the product costs us to maintain that product or service over its life. Therefore, the final price of a product includes the cost. A  simple  example  of  this  is  the  purchase  of  an  automobile. We may purchase   the   automobile   at   $30,000.00,   but   we   must   maintain   that automobile with monthly finance payments; this includes interest, insurance and a maintenance schedule (i.e. oil change, battery replacement, tune-ups, tire replacement, etc.). The end cost that could be double the price, if not more.  We don’t think about the full cost when we buy an item, only the price. Waste disposal is a good example. As long as we can get rid of the waste, the price doesn't matter.

Excess Waste
In the U.S. we landfill 250 million tons of trash each year. How long can we last with this amount of trash being sent to a landfill each year? Think about this: when you buy from McDonalds or any fast food restaurant, you may order any number of meals, along with a drink. If it is a quarter pounder with cheese meal, it would be packaged in a cardboard box the size of the quarter pounder, french fries in another box, depending on the size of the order, medium or large and a waxed container that would hold a drink with a plastic top and a straw with paper wrapped around for sanitary reasons, along with napkins. All of the aforementioned are not recycled, but put into the trash.

There are 33,000 McDonalds locations worldwide, McDonalds sells 75 hamburgers every second; McDonalds consumes 1 billion pound of beef each year, at the cost of five and half million head of cattle (think about the carbon footprint taken up by these cattle).

Although McDonalds has a program for buying recyclable cardboards, recycling its cooking oil and recycling corrugated cardboard behind the counter, the after counter packaging is left for the garbage. The reason that the meal packaging cannot be reused, according to McDonalds’ Web site, “is that food packaging is not widely accepted by recyclers.”

Although McDonalds saves about 35 percent of its waste by recycling corrugated cardboard and cooking oil, it is landfilling 65 percent of its after counter waste. McDonalds and other fast food restaurants must find ways to develop technologies (Noah’s Ark) to help reach 100 percent of a waste recycling program after the waste leaves the counter in order to reduce the use of landfill space. Without question they certainly have the funds and the ability to pay for its development.

Landfill Progress
As we are clearly starting to understand, landfilling is becoming a major issue and public nuisance because of landfill fires, landfill odors, underground water table contamination, methane gas leaks, illegal substance dumping and the eyesore of a high pile of garbage. Granted, landfills are starting to make progress in certain areas, such as:
  • Dumping a load before it is landfilled to check for and remove recyclables and natural resources
  • Landfill mining to capture recyclables and valuable natural resources that can be recycled and reused, realizing that natural resources are starting to dissipate with population growth
  • Realizing the importance of putting waste-to-energy plants on the landfill to reduce waste and produce needed energy while mining the landfill
  • Capturing and reusing methane gas for use in vehicles
  • These landfill efforts ate technologies that continue to improve and support our environment.
Mandatory Recycling
The aforementioned indicate the progression of landfilling, but given the situation and the massive amount of garbage we create each year, recycling must become mandatory in the U.S. at all costs, as it is mandatory in the European Nations.

The price of landfilling garbage is cheap, but the cost to maintain a landfill is very high. Landfills require constant monitoring for methane gas odors and other odors, such as Hydrogen Sulfide, as well as greatly adding to the carbon footprint. A closed landfill and Superfund sites once closed and capped, have to be monitored for at least 30 years partially paid for by the owner, if the owner is not in business, then the taxpayers end up paying.

The aforementioned long-term cost should be an enormous incentive for the taxpayer to participate in and demand mandatory recycling. According to the EPA, all landfills will fail and “By Definition, All Environmental Liabilities Involve Future Costs.” There are mandatory recycling regulations in individual states, but there are no national recycling regulations; however, the European Nations have had mandatory recycling regulations since the early 1990s.

So, why does the U.S. not have mandatory recycling laws? There is certainly a sustainable way of reusing waste, a sustainable cost incentive, provide a great benefit of reducing our carbon footprint and, more importantly, a sustainable way of life. Our future strongly depends on finding better ways to reduce, recycle and reuse by the use of or invention of technologies, creating a circular economy.
If we implement those with the sufficient funding to further develop technologies quickly, it could sustain us for a long time and tremendously cut our carbon footprint. Then there would be two remaining apocalypse scenarios: ocean, lake, river and estuary dumping and hazardous/toxic waste landfilling.

Apocalypse #1
Marine debris, oil spills and ocean acidification are complicated and serious problem for our waters, and most importantly, our marine life and our life. Human beings have been dumping waste in water, including the ocean, since before the Agricultural Age. The Industrial Age brought with it new materials to dump, chemical wastes and by-products. Some materials are dumped into rivers and find their way to the ocean by running downstream. Other materials are dumped directly into the ocean from boats. Plastic is a harmful pollutant that does not break down easily in the ocean. Plastic accounts for 90 percent of all floating materials in the ocean.

The U.S. government has implemented the Ocean Dumping Ban Act of 1988 that makes it unlawful for any person to dump or transport for the purpose of dumping, sewage sludge or industrial waste into ocean waters after December 31, 1991 and provides for the payment of special fees for dumping and any penalties incurred by a dumper to be deposited into certain funds for use in finding alternatives to ocean dumping.

Ocean dumping, sewage system, road and field run-off into our waters has become a disaster and is very difficult and time consuming to clean up, but the biggest problem in the ocean is dumped plastics that take a long period of time to break down. Plastics are killing our birds and our sea life because as the plastics break down into microplastics that the birds and fish believe are food. Eating these plastics will eventually clog-up the birds and fish’s digestive system, causing death.

The Ocean contains four large garbage patches, the Western Garbage patch, the Subtropical Coverage Zone, the Eastern Garbage Patch and other Gyres with Marine Debris. With the polluted oceans and water ways being a massive cleanup project, the question I have is when we bring the waste out of these oceans and water ways what are we going to do with it, i.e. landfill it, or incinerate it? We certainly do not have enough landfill space for all the debris. This cleanup project is a herculean task that will take years and the development of multiple new technologies.

Apocalypse #2:
The second apocalypse scenario and the one we are going to concentrate on in this article is the fact that hazardous/toxic wastes are materials that are ignitable, reactive, corrosive or toxic to human health. Treatment of hazardous waste is stabilization and solidification, recycling, disposal in isolated areas of landfills, incineration and pyrolysis. The latter two require very high temperatures. The above covers the treatment and/or storage of most hazardous wastes. Please keep in mind that if the hazardous waste cannot be recycled, such as lead and acids from batteries, they are sent to a regulated landfill.  The generator or owner who is storing the waste owns it under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), revised as Superfund. CERCLA requires a treatment that permanently and significantly reduces: volume, mobility of hazardous substance and stops toxicity.
One such hazardous material is asbestos. Asbestos lawsuits permeate our courts and have created a multimillion dollar industry for the legal firms. Unfortunately, there are billions of tons of asbestos that will permeate into our environment for century’s to come. 125 million people are exposed to asbestos in the work place each year, around the world someone dies of an asbestos related disease every five minutes and more people die from asbestos illnesses each year then are killed in road accidents. Given all that is known about the deadly dangers of asbestos, the generators/owners keep landfilling it because the price is cheaper than permanently destroying it and removing any future liability.

Climate change has become obvious, causing massive forest fires, droughts, high winds, floods, mudslides, hurricanes and tornadoes. It is only a matter of time before a fluid, hurricane and/or a tornado rips through a landfill cell with toxic waste or asbestos, spreading these toxins for miles. Industry leaders must constantly and consistently seek out or invest in ways to rid our environment of these dangerous toxins.

Destroying Asbestos
There are two families of asbestos mineral: Serpentine, which is Chrysotile, and Amphibole—Amosite, Crocidolite, Actinolite, Anthophylite and Actinolite (see Figure 1). There are several destruction technologies that destroy asbestos. Two are high temperature and one is non-thermal. The high temperature processes destroys the asbestos at 2500 degrees F. They are Vitrification and Hearth Oven. They require complicated scrubber systems to limit emissions and a great amount of electrical energy to operate, requiring highly skilled labor to operate these plants. Two other issues are the waste reduction volume is not great and if the treated asbestos is not totally destroyed at the end of the throughput, it must cool down before it can be checked for complete asbestos destruction. If asbestos is found not destroyed in a batch, that batch must be run through the process again. Both of these processes are EPA approved.

The third process, which is a non-thermal process, is EPA approved, simple to operate, does not require high electrical use and is operated by accredited asbestos workers and one lab technician who can read a polarized microscope.  This process, unlike the high temperature processes is built mobile, transportable and sized to meet the client’s needs. It also reduces waste volume by 30 to 50 percent; most importantly, asbestos destruction is verified through process, therefore no asbestos leaves the process undestroyed.
All three asbestos destruction processes require shredding of asbestos containing material. Not all asbestos containing material can be put through a shredder to be treated asbestos free. The thermal processes leaves an asbestos containing   material   untreated like pipe or any other materials that cannot be put through the shredder, because they will do harm to the shredder. Whereas the non- thermal process proprietary chemical formulas was granted EPA approval to wash any asbestos containing material asbestos free that could not be shredded.

The non-thermal process is first shredded through the primary enclosed   shredder   and   then   screw conveyed in an enclosed screw conveyor into a finer secondary shredder for further size reduction up to a ¼ inch (note: both shredders are equipped with aerating water spray nozzles to keep the asbestos wet at all times). From the secondary shredder, the asbestos containing material is slowly fed by enclosed screw conveyor into the specially designed primary mixer that has been pre-charged with the proprietary conversion chemical. The primary mixer is equipped with an inverter and amperage meter to properly operate the speed of the mixer. The asbestos is kept in an aqueous solution at all times.  The primary mixer has a special blade tolerance to avoid jamming, because of the inconsistencies of the asbestos containing material.

The primary mixer is started at a slow inverter speed while the allowable amount of asbestos is fed into the primary mixer. Once the asbestos containing material is 95 to 98 percent destroyed in the primary mixer, it is pumped into the secondary mixer. When the asbestos containing material is verified to be completely destroyed, it is pumped into a settling tank to allow the solids to settle out and the proprietary chemicals to be siphoned off and reused. The remaining solids are pumped into a specially built cement mixer for neutralization and recycling.

Because no asbestos containing material leaves the non-thermal process before it is verified non-asbestos, the non-thermal process is time saving, electrical cost saving, environmentally friendly and the verification that no asbestos has left the process before destroyed. It meets the EPA required final testing for conformation of asbestos destruction by Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) as required by 40 CFR 61.155—Standard for Operations that Convert Asbestos-Containing Waste Material into Non—Asbestos (Asbestos—Free) Material.

Making the Effort
As human beings, every day we are becoming more and more aware of the damage we have done and are doing to our environment by not recycling and by not practicing conservation.  I will leave you with this thought from a Wall Street Journal Salt and Pepper cartoon from 16 years ago: The scene is of a father sitting on a couch and his son standing in front of him. The father is looking at the son’s report card with great despair and disappointment, obviously expressing his opinion about the report card to the son. The son could not have given a better answer to his father for not receiving better grades. His answer: “If your generation doesn't learn to save the planet, it won’t matter if my generation can’t read or write.

Sixteen years later has become truer and truer. It is up to all who have the power to develop technologies and/ or implement waste solving technologies to make the effort no matter what the price, because we cannot afford the cost.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Eliminating the Threat

While asbestos dangers are well documented, history has long avoided eliminating the threat it poses to human health.

We are starting to progress in our waste habits by recycling different streams of waste and using closed landfills constructively. Composting food waste and recycling plastics, glass, metals, cardboard and newspapers is our way of life. We are realizing the importance of installing waste-to-energy(WTE) plans on closed and active landfills to capture energy.

Separating recyclables from municipal waste before it is dumped in landfills, as well as landfill mining for recyclables are now prominent trends.

We create 250 million tons of waste per year. By practicing reduce, reuse and recycle, we are taking the right steps to minimize waste to landfills.

Sustainability Liability
Many companies are touting zero-waste-to-landfill from their manufacturing operations, however, when the actual facility is taken into account, that may be a false claim.

Companies are hiring or internally promoting sustainability officers who are responsible for complying with all environmental regulations, such as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). CERCLA requires treatments that permanently and significantly reduce volume, mobility of hazardous substances and most importantly, toxicity.

While companies like General Motors, Ford and Chrysler tout sustainability achievements, over the past five years these companies have closed or sold approximately 180 manufacturing facilities. Most of these facilities were built before 1979 and all had to have asbestos-containing material installed in them when they were built.

Asbestos permeates most facilities built before 1979: utilities, military bases, government buildings, refineries, factories, homes and landfills: collectively known as our “built environment.”

Asbestos has been documented in archaeological diggings found in pottery and chinking of homes in Scandinavia from 300 B.C.

History Lessons
The use of asbestos has a long history. Asbestos has been used for more than 2,000 years, called by the ancient Greeks “inextinguishable,” because of superior resistance to fire.

The Greek, Strabo, as well as the Roman, Pliny the Elder, noticed the sickness of the lungs and the early deaths of slaves who worked in the asbestos mines, and also in slaves who wove asbestos table clothes, napkins, burial garments and asbestos into wicks for the Eternal Flame of the Vestal Virgins.

Little known to Strabo and Pliny the Elder, their observations of slaves contracting lung illness would become a fatal, proven fact almost 2,000 years later.

Strabo and Pliny never could have realized or predicted the lung disease caused by asbestos would become the world’s greatest industrial disaster ever known to man and the largest class action law suits ever to swamp the court system. As right as their observations were on the fact that asbestos caused “sickness of the lungs in those who worked with it,” they also could not have predicted that more than 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Mesothelioma each year, 125 million people worldwide encounter asbestos in the home or workplace; every five minutes someone in the world dies from asbestos-related illnesses.

This number amounts to 100,000 people per year and is expected to increase to 5 to 10 million people by 2030. It is a fact that every year there are more people killed by asbestos than in road accidents. Although used through the centuries, the use of asbestos flourished at the onset of the industrial revolution in the 18th century when factories boomed and asbestos was seen as miracle mineral due to its fire resistant, chemical resistant and tinsel strength. Industry created many different products that included asbestos.

In the railroad industry it was used to line refrigeration units, boxcars, and cabosses, and the material was found to be especially useful as insulation for pipes, boilers and fireboxes in stream locomotives and as refractory brick in the coal-fired engines and furnaces. The automobile industry used asbestos in brake linings and clutches, as well as in wiring necessary for lighting and ignitions.

The construction industry found many uses of asbestos for factory and home building products: roofing material (both felt and cement board with asbestos embedded in it), pipe and boiler covering, floor tile, taping, acoustical ceiling tiles, Transite furnace flu, and most dangerously as vermiculite in attic insulation and plant soil additive. Vermiculite was manufactured in Libby, Mont., by W.R. Grace who also manufactured asbestos-containing spray-on fireproofing known as Monokote. Monokote was widely used in thousands of buildings throughout the world. One well known site being the World Trade Center, which still had asbestos containing material when it was attacked.

Referred to as “Transite in the United States,” the material permeates Australia and many other warm climate countries.

The construction industry, by far, gave asbestos-containing material products a great deal of uses, as did the shipbuilding industry. Because of the widespread commercial uses of asbestos, the cases of asbestos and mesothelioma started to come to light.

In 1899, British physician, Dr. H. Montague Murray, discovered the first case of asbestos and recorded an abstract named “Curious Bodies.” In 1906, French factory inspector, Auribolt, discovered the first asbestos lung disease, mesothelioma in 50 people. The use of asbestos and its dangers became so common that by 1918 life insurance companies started to charge higher premiums for asbestos workers.

Too Little, Too Late
Unfortunately 1918 was too late, because as the years went on and asbestos diseases became more prevalent and obvious, many financially solid white glove insurance companies were forced into bankruptcy by asbestos lawsuits, as were myriad of companies who manufactured asbestos-containing material.

By 1930 it was well known to manufactures that asbestos-containing products were a cause of lung disease with death to follow, but many chose to not expose the truth.

The U.S. Public Health Service recognized the effects asbestos has on human health and recommended guidelines for asbestos exposure as early as 1938, but with the onset of World War II, the Public Health Service recommendations were ignored.

The expansion of existing military bases, the building of new military bases, amplified shipbuilding, and new government buildings, such as the Pentagon, all used asbestos.

The Defense Logistics Agency during World War II bought and stored in silos around the country raw asbestos in case asbestos did not become available.

With so much asbestos in our built environment around the world and the never-ending and ongoing illnesses caused by asbestos, coupled with the landfill shortage, why are we not destroying the asbestos to prevent the harm to humans?

Methods of Destruction
There are U.S.-Environmental-Protection-Agency-approved technologies that destroy asbestos by high temperature: plasma torch, vitrification and hearth oven, and a non-thermal process, ABCOV®, which works by a chemical-physical reaction.

With the ABCOV® process, asbestos destruction is followed through the process until the asbestos is destroyed. In high-temperature processes, asbestos has to run through the process, be cooled down and be tested for asbestos. If asbestos is found in the batch that was run through the high temperature units, it must be put back through the unit until destroyed.

Asbestos is and will be a killer as long as it remains in our built environment. A Wall Street Journal “Pepper … and Salt” cartoon that has sat on my desk for at least 17 years says it best: A father sitting on the couch looking at his son’s report card with great disappointment and letting his son know how he felt. The son replied: “If your generation doesn’t learn to save the planet, it won’t matter if my generation can’t read or write.” 

Tony Nocito, Managing Member of the ABCOV® Companies, LLC, has developed, commercialized and markets the ABCOV asbestos destruction process. He has 25 years asbestos abatement experience and 26 years construction/demolition industry experience. Visit ABCOV® Blog. Guest Blogger Featured in Construction & Demolition Recycling

Friday, November 15, 2013

Warren Buffett Trades Mesothelioma Death for Money

It is not for the victims of asbestos diseases, but for the lawyer's self-interest that asbestos litigation occurs, and the self-interest of Mr. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway's group of Insurance companies that are responsible for asbestos liabilities.

The asbestos litigation industry is a multibillion dollar industry that spends more on advertising than Coca-Cola. Asbestos litigation provides substantial- steady income to asbestos litigation firms and their litigators as long as payments are made to the victims.

We know Mr. Buffett as the Oracle of Omaha, a highly praised investor and a seemingly a nice guy who plays a Ukulele and sings at the conventions of the companies he owns.

Mr. Buffett has proven to make the right investments at the right time, because he sees the future and has the cash to buy it. With cash and enough time, time being the key word, you can make yourself one of the wealthiest men in the world, as Mr. Buffet.

Mr. Buffett's, Berkshire Hathaway, has recently purchased a litany of insurance companies that are directly responsible for asbestos and/or hazardous/toxic liabilities, which Mr. Buffett agreed to take on with this purchase.

So why would the world's wisest investor buy such portentous liability?

The answer: along with that liability comes tons of billions in cash, known as the float, which is invested at great returns, as long as Mr. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway insurance companies can deny, delay or not pay plaintiffs' (victims) claims. The float is money held by the insurance companies to pay the victims of asbestos and/or hazardous/toxic diseases.

Asbestos and /or hazardous/toxic diseases are a death sentence. In litigation, the defending law firms are always looking for angels to hold off payments, pay as little as possible or nothing at all to the plaintiffs, which buys time.

It is estimated by A.M. Best, an insurance company rating firm, that asbestos claim losses will surge to $121 billion dollars with no end in sight.

A.M. Best also estimates insurers are incurring $2 billion in asbestos claims each year, as well as paying out $2.5 billion to victims each year.


According to Ajit Jain Berkshire Hathaway's insurance companies paid out $1.4billion dollars in asbestos and /or hazardous/toxic claims last year. Do the math: that leaves Berkshire, according to A.M. Best, $1.1 billion to invest while fending off the losses of $2 billion a year being held in the float and invested while the cases are being detained or slowly litigated.

Also, Berkshire Hathaway's insurance company corporate-maneuvers left litigators puzzled, not knowing who to sue, payments are not being made to the plaintiffs while Berkshire's defense litigator's buy time to allow the float money to make required target profits, instead of paying the victims.

According to the Fox Business News, "Berkshire said its insurance and other revenue jumped 14% to $35.92 billion.

Mr. Buffett quote: "We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful".

If you are dying from asbestos or hazardous/toxic diseases, you will certainly be fearful of dying, but more so for the future of your loved ones.

Fear and/or desire are the greatest motivators. If you fear you will die broke from asbestos or a hazardous/toxic disease, leaving your family with nothing, you will quickly have the desire, for peace of mind before dying, to settle for a lesser amount that may be paid sometime in the future to your loved ones.

But if the Berkshire Hathaway insurance companies outright refuse to pay, because Berkshire Hathaway has to make its targeted bottom-line profits ----- what are your choices? - suffer more and die broke!

In life our true character shows through at one point or another. If we are lucky to live long enough, we will have enough time to adjust flaws in our character for the better.

Mr. Buffet is running out of time, but the aforementioned proves his strong ties to the belief of Gordon Gekko: Greed is good. 

I would make a suggestion that Mr. Buffett please put a good portion of the money he makes from the float in scientific and medical research that cure diseases caused by asbestos and other hazardous/toxic substances and invest in environmental technologies that permanently remove asbestos and other hazardous/toxic substances from our environment in order to save lives.

Instead of the beliefs of Gordon Gekko, I recommend Mr. Buffet follow the beliefs of Oscar Schindler, "To save one life is to save the world". 

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Ugly, The Bad and The Good of Waste Disposal

I know, I know it is supposed to be The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, but I don’t personally know Clint Eastwood and this blog, in my opinion, works better backwards.
The Ugly: recycler uses recycle operation as landfill; construction supervisor mishandles asbestos, landfill fires, landfill odors and landfill toxic fumes, landfill leachate run-off, illegal E-Waste disposal, manufacturers who knew and know that the products, such as Lead, Chromium, Asbestos were and are lethal to human beings, but manufacture for profit anyway, asbestos companies that dumped asbestos illegally in upstate New York, the asbestos truck that purposely dumped asbestos in the street in front of a grammar school, violators who do not safely handle and dispose toxins, the companies that are not precautious enough to stop environmental disasters, oil companies, the corporations that have toxic, hazardous or regulated waste that can be treated on site, but landfill them for our future generations to deal with, the list goes on and most received prison time, all except the executives that are politically connected, like W.R. Grace, but a Swiss billionaire asbestos manufacturer was sentenced to 18 years in prison for asbestos deaths – in Italy – no less! There is something wrong with the U.S., because no one received prison time for killing a town of people in Libby, Montana. Now that is really UGLY!
The Bad: The bad are the people who care, but only occasionally, the bad are the people who find it difficult to go out of their way to recycle and only recycle when convenient, the bad are the people who throw everything into one garbage bin, the bad are the people who throw waste in the street instead of carrying it to a garbage bin or a recycle bin.
The Good: The good ardently believe the more we recycle the better we will become as humans, the better our children will be as they grow, the less future pollution our children will have to deal with and the less pollution will enter the environment, the less garbage will be handled and dumped in a landfill or put through an incinerator, believe in conserving our natural resources, support global climate change and will continue to create new industries and jobs though innovation of recycling products.
The good believe in a circular economy: what comes out of the manufacturing product, after its end of life’s cycle, is able to go back into the manufacturing the same or similar product. The good understand the importance of buying products that are recyclable and/or are made from recycled material. The good don’t take shopping bags from the grocery store, but they bring their own non-disposable shopping bags to the grocery store.
The good understand the importance of the separation of recyclables, they buy and use designated recycles bins. They believe in composting, paper, cardboard, bottle, and can recycling.
Hell! The good believe in recycling everything they can possibly recycle to save our planet.
Now ask yourself: Which one am I?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Similarities Between the Waste and Death Industry

In a blog recently published on Waste & Recycling News, Maria Kirch writes about being environmentally responsible in death.

The blog discusses the new eco-friendly coffins that can be decorated to your desires and biodegradable corporate clothing line known as the first 100% environmentally responsible tailored funeral wear.

It started me to think about death, population, garbage, landfilling and burial plots.

Let's take death and population first. Currently approximately 150,000 people die each day and it is expected that 40% of these people will opt for cremation (incineration). Some who die unforeseen deaths and are healthy at death will hopefully donate their organs to medical institutions for reuse to better the life of humans who need them, i.e. human organ recycling.

Cemetery space is becoming like landfill space, diminishing greatly. Presently, in the United States, 230 million tons of solid waste is landfilled each year. The population growth of 19.5% for every 1,000 people will not only create a vast increase in garbage disposal, but also create a vast increase in burial ground requirements.

Will land be used for garbage, for cemetery plots or for food? Statistics point out that one has to realize the future of the earth's limitations and the future use of its land do to population growth. The siting of new landfills, as well as the need for burial space, will forcibly make our earth's livable ground disappear in a short time.

One thought might be, can we use old landfills for burial grounds? Just the thought of being buried in a garbage dump makes me cringe.

Landfill mining is starting to be become a trend by digging out the recyclables to create more landfill space. Now done in the Netherlands, the reality will that all landfills will install onsite waste-to-energy units to incinerate or cremate the remaining landfill waste after the recyclable are mined. They are starting to remove the recyclables before landfilled and incinerate (cremate) the rest of the garbage for energy without putting it in a landfill.

Incineration or cremation of anything leaves a minimal amount of ash that can be disposed of or recycled, and when a human is cremated, the ash can be kept in an urn or spread over the person's favorite spot.
The aforementioned will give us back our natural resources found in the recyclables, and eliminate a great portion of our solid waste by creating much needed energy and land space.

As hard as it is we humans have to start to think seriously about our environmental impact while we are busy resting in peace. Each and every one of us must think about organ donation, i.e. recycling, land space, cremation as opposed to cemetery plots, while at the same time taking advantage of the eco-friendly coffins, and biodegradable corporate clothing.

If the waste industry can do it -- so can us humans!