environmental protection

Nuclear Power Dangers, Benefits & Environmental Concerns

Nuclear Power Dangers, Benefits & Environmental Concerns

We are into the new era of science and technology where we are being forced to look for new and cleaner sources of energy. Our energy resources of fossil fuels are limited and also harmful for the environment because of the carbon emissions and other consequences associated with it.  The future of energy depends on how safely we use the reusable sources of energy like the sun and the wind. Nuclear power, however, could also play a major role if done safely, and might need more involvement from the government to address the safety issues.

Nuclear power – can it be the answer to our energy crisis?

Nuclear energy could be the future of our energy resource and our answer to energy shortages. Many believe that we will become increasingly reliant on nuclear power in the future to maintain our living standards. It would also minimize our carbon footprint and address the global warming issues by minimizing fossil fuel consumptions and carbon dioxide emission. The nuclear power is a powerful source of energy which does require serious safety regulations and measures for safe operation and maintenance.

Nuclear power and global climate change

We, the humans, are responsible for the sudden climatic changes around the globe. All the sudden climatic disasters that we are facing today are due to changes and damages to the earth’s atmospheric composition, imbalance of temperature, and increase in harmful green house gases such as CO2, CFC, and so on from burning the fossil fuels, industrialization, and unsafe methods of sustainable business practices. Even though many of the major companies are already adapting to the climatic changes and starting to minimize our global impacts, the climatic inertia, such as melting of ice caps and changes in ocean water temperature, and rise in our sea levels make our responses to climatic changes more complicated and challenging.

Global demand for safe and clean source of energy is growing rapidly. For decades, scientists have thought of nuclear power as a safe and clean alternative to fossil fuels and if done safely, it does not negatively affect the environment and leaves no carbon footprint. From the age of rapid industrialization to current era of computer and rapid growth of mobile technology, we have been increasing the amount of carbon we use and emit into the environment. We have also been increasing the global temperature by emitting harmful green house gases that deplete the environment and destroy the ozone layer, that protect us from harmful solar radiation. Nuclear power is a huge powerful source of energy that could substitute all our power generating plants that use fossils or of various forms.

Safety concerns – Are the nuclear power plants perfectly safe?

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atomic energy

  Keeping the nuclear power plants safe

The recent designs of the nuclear power plants are very safe, far safer than what they were in the early 1960s and 1970s. We hear about accidents like the one in the Three-Mile Island, or the accident at Fukushima, which was due to a human error as well as caused by a huge natural disaster. Far more studies have been made ever since to make the nuclear power plants safer. No one expected a 45 foot tsunami that overwhelmed the backup generators.

There has been only three major accidents, the Three Mile Island accident, Fukushima, and the  Chernobyl Accident in Russia, which made large part of Soviet Union unlivable back in 1986, among over 14,500 reactor-years of operation collectively around the world in 33 countries.

·      Managing nuclear generator toxic waste

A recent study shows that release of radiation and release of radio isotopes  from a nuclear power plant is far less dangerous than the radio isotopes released from natural gas at home. The cities do not need to worry about radiation from nuclear power plants.

Nuclear power plants are the only large scale power producing plans that takes responsibility in cleaning their own toxic waste and takes the cleaning costs into their production costs. Compared to the power generation and with other forms of fossil fuel base power plants, radioactive waste is relatively small. It is neither hazardous nor very difficult waste to manage. There are proven technology available today to dispose radioactive waste safely.

Economic Factors for developing nuclear power generators

Building, managing and running the nuclear power plants can be expensive and also require precision in technology and skills. USA has more private sector companies produce power from nuclear energy than anywhere else in the world. However the government of the United States has an active role in setting and monitoring the safety standards and the environmental impacts and setting goals for the nuclear power generation. US government also encourages nuclear powered plants to develop, evolve and grow through government funding. The policy makers of our country need to look into the possibilities and right regulations to develop nuclear powered generators in the USA.

Nuclear energy and the future

Nuclear energy is the promising new source of energy and could become our energy source of the future. Nuclear power generators are able to produce huge amounts of energy using very small amount of fuel. However, they are not easy to set up and could become expensive to build, manage and operate safely. It could also contain potential hazards or dangers if a disaster or accident takes place. How we dispose of the nuclear waste is also another concern for the environmentalists around the world. We need to develop all possible ways to replace fossil fuels with cleaner and sustainable resources such as nuclear power, wind and solar energy. We don’t have a choice but to explore every possibility.

Nuclear energy and the Environmental Professional

Because there has been relatively little new nuclear development in decades, there is a shortage of environmental professionals that are trained properly to deal with many aspects of what could be an emerging nuclear industry.  Generally, the majority of working nuclear environmental professionals are over 40 years old and many are closer to retirement than being in the midst of their careers.  There will be a great opportunity for properly trained new and young nuclear scientists in the future, even if nuclear power does not become a major ongoing energy source.

EPN will be conducting webinars and teaching classes for our members to learn more about the opportunities in the nuclear field.  You should watch for these opportunities as you continue to visit our site and as you advance in your training and in your careers.

nuclear energy

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Network Of Environmental Professionals For Businesses

Network Of Environmental Professionals For Businesses

We often hear about global issues such as global warming, carbon emissions, sea level rise, sudden climatic changes, and so on, being talked about today. These issues are as relevant today as they were a decade ago. But the businesses are taking global issues more seriously now than ever before and there is a good reason for that. The world population today is about 7.13 billion and according to the UNO, it is going to rise up to 8 billion by 2030. The good news is that about 3 billion people will come out of poverty and join the middle class by 2030, making the number of middle class to 5 billion. This would also mean that we will be facing new challenges to tackle the resource scarcity issues.

With industrialization and urbanization there are other issues such as carbon emission and energy shortages associated. More and more people will live their lives based on the cities, and there will be a large number of cities around the world having over a million or more people living in them. It is estimated that the global temperature will rise up to 3 degrees in the next decade, and all the problems that we are having today globally are only due to a one or one and half degree rise in the global temperature.

Considering the global situations and world trend today, sustainability has become a “must do” for all business, and it is no longer an option which was “nice to do” before, for some businesses. What businesses do today is going to have an impact on the sustainability of environment in the future, and it is now a concern for government as well as environmentalists around the world.

sustainable business

Why Sustainable businesses

If you ask the common customers, they will all agree that they care about sustainability, and so, they are already doing their part by shifting towards environmentally safe products and eco-friendly products. The people around the world are more conscious about environmental issues today than ever before, and so, the shift towards sustainable products is not only an option, but has become necessary.

We know that all customers care about sustainability in their everyday activities. They also want sustainability to be easy, attractive, affordable, and beneficial for them. This is where businesses can help. Once the business adapt to sustainable strategies, the demand for sustainable goods and services will only increase.

Companies like IBM and Microsoft, already worked towards sustainability when they produced machines that could save paper. Emailing over the internet and saving data on central databases reduced the need for huge paper based files, and filing cabinets.

Corporate employeeIf you think about the early sustainable products, the most common products that come into your mind would be the eco-friendly detergents, the light bulbs or the recycled toilet papers, and none of them worked very well in their early stages. The recycled toilet paper used to be rough, the light bulb took five minutes to warm up and gave a sickly color, and the detergent made your whites greyer. Sustainable products have come a long way since then, and today, the eco-friendly products work just as great as the products made by conventional method. Businesses can now produce products that are sustainable, attractive, functional, and beautiful all at the same time.

Why Environmental Professionals Network for business?

Businesses today have already recognized the need for sustainability. The Environmental Professionals Network can help businesses have a positive impact on the environment. Some of the companies are already working through the sustainability strategies with the help of EPN.

What will the Environmental Professionals Network do for businesses?

environmental professionals networkThe Environmental Professionals Network are a group of environmentalists with a vast knowledge in the industry to address any environmental issues that any business is faced with today, whether it involves a business facility, that requires a Phase – 1 assessment, an industry that needs government approval to start business, or a farmer with low budget who is looking for ways to minimize cost and maximize profits. The EPN has set new standers for other environmentalists, and worked with ASTM to make these standards global recommendations for assessments and testing.

EPN can also identify and work on the areas where a company needs improvement to reduce global impact. There are many regulations by government agencies as well as legal issues associated with businesses that businesses need to know and comply with. The EPN professionals can help all business to stay in compliance with the legal issues as well as government agencies.

The environmental industry is rapidly evolving and changing the business the way they operate. It is wise for any business to consult the Environmental Professionals Network instead of hiring and training their own employees to tackle the task of the environmentalists on their own.

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Ways we can help our environment

When it comes to saving the environment, both the consumers and producers have an active role towards sustainability. It is not only how the product impacts the environment, but also the raw materials, the production of the products that needs to be taken under consideration.

1. Use energy efficient appliances

Using appliances and products that save energy can reduce the energy consumption, carbon emission, and reduce the energy costs. Shifting towards energy star products, energy saving light bulbs, and so on can significantly save the fossils and address the energy crisis of the world.

2. Use practices that save energy

Using energy saving practices in our daily lives, such as using the public transportation whenever possible, driving smaller cars, checking the emission of the automobiles regularly, turning off lights, heat and air-conditioning whenever we leave the house,  can all add up to sustainability.

3. Minimize energy wastage

Wasting energy is one of the worst crimes that we are guilty of. By minimizing waste, we can all save a lot of energy together in the long run. We can minimize waste by insulating our houses better, replacing our old windows and doors with energy star doors and windows that save energy, replacing appliances that use too much energy or that are faulty or that has leakage with new energy efficient appliances, changing your old thermostat with digital programmable thermostat can all add up and save you energy.

4. Recycle

Using recycled products and using recycled materials to produce new goods and services can also contribute to saving energy and resources. Not only the producers, but we, as the consumers need to look into using more products with recycled materials. The same goes for products of our everyday use, products such as glass, metal goods, plastic, paper, all can be recycled and can add up the savings. Instead of throwing away in the garbage, we can save and recycle them to minimize mining and cutting down trees.

There are many people who still need to be convinced about the benefits of sustainability. We see people using illegal practices, like negative forestry, or using environmentally hazardous practices to profit from their business. We would like to inform all of them that the practices that impact the globe negatively are the ones that tend to destroy our own existence and sustainability for the future, in a way; we are destroying ourselves, if we do not become aware now and act towards sustainability together by making a simple choice.

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Renewable And Clean Sources Of Energy To Tackle Global Energy Crisis

Renewable And Clean Sources Of Energy To Tackle Global Energy Crisis

The future of our civilizations depend a great deal on whether or not we find clean sources of reusable energy to replace the fossil fuels. It is very important that we have clean supply of energy and reduce our dependency on fossils like gas, coal and oil. In many countries of the world, it is already a problem to cope with the recent rise in utility prices and many consumers are feeling that they are unfairly charged for huge amount of energy bills.

clean energy source

Energy sources such as the sun and the wind are reusable because the supply of solar energy and wind powered turbines are not limited. Unlike fossil fuels like oil and gas, It does not get used up as we consume them. The other benefit of using energy from solar and wind powered plants is that it is clean and does not pollute the environment as we use them.

Fossil fuels take thousands of years to form and regenerate, and therefore we cannot consider them as a source of reusable energy. Burning fossil fuels leaves harmful gases in the atmosphere and in the long run can cause even more serious consequences, including severe global climatic changes, global warming, sea level rise, ice cap melting, determination of the ozone layer, acid rain and so on.

One new source of energy being considered recently is called the biodiesel. It is derived from the lipids or fat of algae, and can be a great new source for reusable energy. The lipids form algae is processed and converted into diesel, and the rest of the plant can be used as feed for other plants or animals. Even though algae burn a lot cleaner than other fossils, it still has carbon emission. However, many people would rather have algae in their gas tanks than in their pools.

Solar Pane;

When it comes to ultimate source of clean energy, nothing beats the power of the sun. It is the ultimate source of clean and reusable energy, which can be used in both large scales as well as small scales in public places and buildings. Directly or indirectly, we get all our energy from the sun. Any kind of energy source you can think of, such as the wind powered plants, the hydroelectric power plants, or fossil powered plants; they all use power from the sun. The sun makes the wind blow, the ocean currents go around the world, even the energy in the fossil came from the energy of the sun. Therefore, there is no denying that the sun is the ultimate source of clean, reusable energy.

Finding clean sources of energy is also important because economy of a country depend upon how they use their energy sources. The production and economic growth of a country depends on finding a uninterrupted supply of clean energy. It is important that we preserve our environment, and so is finding a clean source of reusable energy. Many countries of the world spend thousands of dollars because they import fuels form other countries. They also pay for the consequences such as climatic changes, environmental damages and health related issues which are related to burning fuel and environmental pollution.

Countries like China, Germany and India are already showing that they are taking the environmental issues seriously by increasing their spending on finding and using reusable clean source of energy. China spent an impressive $65 million dollars on reusable energy, which is 85% more than what the US spent last year. China is also imposing higher taxes on carbon emission to regulate the industries and to make their environment safer.

Most people in America, regardless of their political views, are already aware that renewable energy sources should be used more for the future civilization. Most Americans also prefer clean sources of energy for the future generations and believe that finding clean sources of energy is the only way to leave a cleaner earth for our children and grand children.

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Taking all aspects of energy sources into consideration, it would be only in our best interest to utilize all available sources for increasing productivity, securing our future, and having a great competitive economy as well as becoming the world leaders and examples for other nations to follow.

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Why Improving The Quality Of Our Cities Is An Environmental Issue

Why Improving The Quality Of Our Cities Is An Environmental Issue

It might appear that there is no real connection between urban life and the environmental awareness. However, if you look closely, you will find that every bit of improvement in the cities, issues like reducing crime, increasing the number of affordable housing, increasing jobs and businesses, finding alternate source of energy for motor vehicles and residences, and controlling traffic congestion, all have impact on the environment and global sustainability.

 

Environmental issues and sustainability do not always have to be related to issues like reducing energy consumption, or pollution. Although these are the most common environmental issues, improving the quality of our urban lives has also a profound effect on the environment and sustainability. The reason is, if we do not have a suitable place to work, play or enjoy our lives, we are not going to feel motivated to improve our planet.

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To work towards building our cities beautiful, we need to make our cities safe, grow less dependency on fossils and automobiles that burn more fuel, use less energy, and use products that are environmentally friendly. People from all walks of life can contribute towards building our cities beautifully. For example, if we think about using less energy and protect nature by checking the emission from our vehicles regularly, it would be a great step towards building a sustainable environment. It also includes the way we dispose our waste, and how we add toxic and disturb our surroundings with adding chemicals and synthetic products.

 

The environmental protection issues have become one of the global issues today. Anything that we do in one part of the world today affects us all globally. The world does not confine us with political boundaries and there is no way to have a sustainable society without addressing the issues related to pollution in the cities, industries, energy consumption and preservation of the environment because it affects us all. Not only does it affect the city life, but also in the fields of agriculture, and preservation of natural resources.

 

Another major concern of the families that live in the cities is the pesticides used on gardens and grass. It is important that we minimize the exposure to these harmful chemicals, especially if we go to the parks and playgrounds with our children. There are signs beurban parking used in many places today, where the pesticides are sprayed in public places. It is not easy to keep the children away from the contaminated soil of the playground and parks. Ingesting these chemicals can become a major health issue with children. The other big concern with children today is the air pollution due to smog and other pollutants in the air.

 

In addition to increasing our awareness towards saving the environment, using environmentally friendly products can also contribute to significantly improve the quality of the cities.

 

There are many groups and environmental professionals networks being formed today to help Mother Nature recover, not only locally, but also globally, because there are no political boundaries when it comes to caring for our environment. We can all join forces and work towards making this world a better place for all of us.

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EPN Phase – 1 Site Assessment And The Report Process

EPN Phase – 1 Site Assessment And The Report Process

EPN – A brief introduction

Environmental Professionals Network (EPN) was founded in the northern Colorado in 2013 by a team of environmental professionals, who sensed a shift in the paradigm of the environmental industry. They also felt that it was right time to form a new environmental professional group to meet the requirements of the growing industry, which was rapidly evolving with the global changes and the latest growth in technology.

The team began with a noticeably diverse group of environmental professionals, who shared the same passion about the industry, including expert and highly experienced environmentalists as well as relatively younger and aspiring professionals. However, they all had the same goal in mind, and that was to build a platform for the environmental professionals who would build a successful and sustainable business.

One of the founder members of the team, Dr. Wayne Dorband, has been an environmentalist for over 35 years. He, as a young Ph. D professor sknox-waybur-update-2437159-htarted the environmental studies program at Augustana College, when this course of study was very rare among other institutions. Today, hundreds and thousands of students around the world graduate with environmental protection degree.

 

About the “EPN Phase 1 Interview”

In this video interview, Dr. Wayne Dorband  about various aspects of the phase -1 assessment process by answering several questions of Justin Lichter, one of  the principals of the Environmental Professionals Network (EPN). Through these questions, many important issues related to the phase 1 assessment become clear. Questions related to the ASTM standards and guidelines, how are they changed and many more. Many of these questions are very common among most property owners or even young environmentalists who are new to the industry. Through these questions, Dr. Dorband explains in clear terms, why would someone need a phase -1 assessment, what guidelines to follow, what to looking for before and during an inspection, and what goes on in the report after visiting a property and  making an assessment.

What is a phase 1 site assessment process?

The Phase -1 Environmental Site Assessment, which is also referred to as Phase -1 ESA, is a report given by an environmental assessors, which summarizes the condition in which the property and the surrounding area is in, based on his visit and inspection. It describes if the condition of the property, if there are any potential environmental hazards or risks associated with the identified property, and if it requires any further investigation or assessments to fully understand the potential risks.

 

Why is a phase 1 site assessment needed?

Phase 1 site assessment was traditionally contracted by banks or lending agencies when a lending or financing was involved. The purpose of the assessment was to protect the banks from being involved in any financial agreements with a piece of contaminated property, and they wanted to make sure that property in question was safe from environmental risks.

 

The purpose of phase 1 assessments

Today, phase 1 assessment is an essential part of any property transaction associated with industrial or commercial property. The purpose of the phase 1 assessment is to carry out a systematic consistent method which may identify any environmental conditions that the piece of property may be in or may affect any property under scrutiny.

 

The components of a phase 1 ESA

Record and review before the inspection:  By doing a researchon the property before the inspections, an environmentalist is actually be able to prepare himself to better manage his time and be more efficient during the inspection. An interview with the property owners or anyone involved with the property is also vital before the phase 1 inspection. Any kind of information including advertisement materials, a website, a brochure or catalog being used for the advertisement for the property might help to make the assessment.

EPN Phase 1Most of the records and documents are available from the property owners and clients and that is the first place an environmentalist should start gathering information from. Some governmental agencies and commercial entities who sell this information may also provide you with what you need. By reviewing the records of the past titles, an environmentalist will try to figure out what the property was being used for in the past. It also helps the environmentalist to figure out if the surrounding area was safe from contamination, if it was used by any agencies like fire department and so forth in the past. The timeline in which the property was built also plays an important role.

Site inspection:  When visiting a site, an assessor is looking for potential risks for the client. It is very important to use personal judgments while inspecting a site visually. There are several aspects of the building that the assessor may look. They are as follows:

 

REC –Recognized Environmental Condition

These are the elements that an environmentalist can see visually by visiting a site. Most of the elements are associated with the building materials that affect the site including the soils, ground water and surface water on the property and the surrounding or from the adjacent property.

 

Some of the major concerns are given below.

1. Asbestos: should it be a concern?EPN Inspection

If the property was built prior to the 1980s, it is more than likely to contain asbestos of some sort. It could be on any kinds of coating or surface such as walls, ceilings, siding or flooring. Asbestos could also be on thermal insulation such as pipes, boilers; and so on, anything that has to do with heat absorbing or insulating the house. Any masking materials such as caulking or any adhesive materials could also be potentially dangerous. Mostly, stuff that are exposed or could be exposed if there were any renovations done on the building, including roofing materials such as flashing or roofing materials themselves.  However, containing asbestos does not always make the property hazardous. The asbestos would only be dangerous if it was friable or brittle or breaking apart.

2. Lead: is lead a major hazard to environment?

Lead is not a major concern if the materials containing lead are not deteriorating. Most of the older buildings, built before the 1980s, used lead as a soldering material on pipes. So if the building has a lot of pipes especially pipes of drinking water or waiter fountains containing lead joints that would be a concern.  However, the major concern would be if there were any signs of peeling paints or broken pipes with lead. Any structure that is intact or concealed does not concern the assessor.

3.  Mold: is mold a concern for phase 1?

If a building has obvious signs of mildew buildup, it is possible signs of water damage, and should be investigated further.

 4. Should Electrical equipments major issue?

Overhauling 50-year-old generators

Old electrical equipments or any motor like equipments could be a concern if there are indications of oil leakage. PCBs were widely used in the dielectric and coolant fluids prior to 1980s, so if motor containing equipment such as a power generator, transformer or elevator has leakage, there could be potential risk of BCBs.

5. Can Redon be a problem?

Radon and any other radioactive material would be a great concern for environmentalists if the area where the property is located is in the radon alert zone. The government documents can help you to determine whether the property is in the danger area. The EPA database characterizes the potential danger areas of every county in the United States, so it is important to follow the EPA guidelines. Radon is only a problem if it is coming into the building from the soil below, therefore if a building is located in the radon risk area that has a basement; it is something to be mentioned in the phase 1 reports.

It requires knowledge and experience to become an expert assessor, to know which specific areas to look for and to find suspicious materials. The EPN is going to provide a checklist for environmentalists to go through, making sure that everything is covered.

 

ASTM Standards assessment

EPN Inspection

ASTM or the American Standard Testing Methods is an organization formed to create standards for different kinds of testing. In 1990, ASTM looked at the assessment process and they decided that there has to be a standardized process on a nationwide basis. Dr. Wayne Dorban, the founder of EPN was asked to be on the committee which put together the standards. The ASTM standards have changed the way the phase 1 assessments were done. They are a lot more precise and accurate and systematic process.

ASTM sets the guidelines which environmental professionals can use

The standards of the phase 1 testing were guidelines or recommended protocol for conducting a phase 1 testing by any environmental professional nationwide. These guidelines are very important for any environmentalists to follow because all the major entities and businesses, including the US Justice Departments agree that if a phase 1 was not done in compliance with these standard guidelines, it would not be acceptable. So being in compliance with the ASTM would meet both the requirements of lenders, government agencies and they would also meet the legal standards.

 

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