A new year; a new “look” for undiscovered sources
The holiday season, just passed, provided a convenient time to pause, at least briefly, to take a fresh look at setting priorities for a more productive 1995. Priorities might have included expanding the list of potential sources for information or guidance in certain special areas of expertise. For example, power plant engineers, who oversee many facets of environmental protection, could gain benefits from research organizations that might not yet be universally known throughout the power generation industry.
One organization worth getting to know is The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Dedicated to environmental research, the Academy (founded in 1812) boasts four divisions–Natural Sciences Museum, Natural History Library, Division of Biodiversity and Evolution, and the Environmental Research Division (ERD). The division (founded in 1947) is of most immediate value to the power generation industry. It operates three laboratories with studies focusing on fresh and saltwater bodies of water, and wetlands and land use in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and other areas of the world. Through ERD`s studies, “the Academy`s internationally recognized staff provides the information necessary for government agencies and industries to formulate policy and improve resource management,” said an Academy spokesman.
One fascinating activity that continues under the guidance of ERD`s Patrick Center for Environmental Research in Philadelphia is the Safety Net Program for Pennsylvania Power & Light Co. (PP&L). This laboratory, which focuses on major rivers and lakes, provides a third party assessment of the radiological effects of PP&L`s Susquehanna Steam Electric Station upon the surrounding environment. ERD, which has conducted Safety Net for 15 years, monitors movement in the environment of man-made and naturally occurring radionuclides, especially those in the food pathways to humans.
Elements to watch: mercury and arsenic
Mercury remains high on environmental engineers` list of materials to watch. The Academy`s Estuarine Research Center has studied mercury in aquatic environments for years under the direction of Dr. Cynthia Gilmour. She finds that inorganic mercury can convert to methyl mercury under the action of bacteria that reduces sulfur in sediment at the bottom of lakes. “Methyl mercury in solution or in the bacteria easily moves up in the food chain.” Gilmour`s work, according to the Academy, required her to develop techniques for measuring mercury at the sub-part per trillion level. Arsenic also has been targeted by the Academy researchers. James Sanders (ERC) found that chronic low levels of arsenic in the Chesapeake Bay did not affect the quality of life of the invertebrates and vertebrates, because they do not ingest or accumulate the element in their tissues. He did learn that whenever arsenic exceeded 3 parts per billion, then phytoplankton (algae) may be affected. These findings have raised concerns and are being evaluated.
Water is a major issue
The proceedings of the Fifth National Conference on Environmental Issues–Water: Our Next Crisis?–provides some illuminating views of the legislative, managerial and societal changes that these speakers see as necessary to cope with future quality and quantity demands. Conference speakers represented the EPA, Worldwatch Institute, the Delaware River Basin Committee and the Center for Competitive, Sustainable Economies. The 347-page proceedings are available from the Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1195. Contact Barry Lewis at (215) 299-1108.
Meanwhile, back at the power plant
EPRI`s Chemical Translator Guidance Manual also can help relate the broad overview of water concerns to immediate power plant concerns for effluent control. The 68-page manual is particularly useful to environmental managers who are responsible for obtaining National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits (refer to EPRI TR-104047, Final Report, June 1994). According to EPRI, the objective of this manual is to help utilities negotiate for the inclusion of translators in state regulations and permitting guidance, and to help utilities develop and apply translators in NPDES permitting. A document worth a second look is Compliance Monitoring Detection and Quantitation Levels for Utility Aqueous Discharges. This 72-page final report helps the user define reasonable pollutant discharge limits to meet effluent monitoring requirements. EPRI`s analytical methods qualification (AMQ) Studies I, II, and III for trace element analysis of wastewaters were used to calculate compliance monitoring detection levels (CMDL) and compliance monitoring quantitation levels (CMQL) in utility matrices. The work involves round robin studies of 17 elements.
AMQ Phase IV is underway analyzing aluminum, beryllium and thallium in river water, ash pond effluent, seawater and treated metal chemical cleaning wastes. Round 2 of this phase involves analysis by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrosopy of arsenic, cadmium and chromium in acid mine drainage, an estuarine, and groundwater with low dissolved solids. Work continues with the EPA and ASTM to achieve consensus on CMDL and CMQL definitions. For more information on EPRI TR-103205, Final Report, December 1993, contact Babu Nott, EPRI, (415) 855-2002. END
Whether the protective coating is submerged in water or not, there now is, for the first time, one source book containing all ASTM Standards for protective coating inspection. The American Society for Testing and Materials` (ASTM) Committee D-33 (Coatings for the Power Generation Industry) developed this indispensable reference for coating inspectors. The book contains 38 published standards on the inspection of surface preparation, wet and dry film thickness, holiday detection, visual examination, and other general inspection topics. Steel Structures Painting Council standards and National Association of Corrosion Engineers` international standards also are referenced. List price for the guide is $59. It is available from S. G. Pinney and Associates Inc. Call (800) 955-0574 for quotes on quantity discounts.