Posts Tagged ‘Midwest Industrial’

Who’s Responsible for Fixing Damaged Roadways in Ohio?

Anthony/Flickr

Anthony/Flickr

We explore the methodology behind Ohio’s Road Use Maintenance Act and how the agreements within will impact roads, companies and communities. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s Time to Take Control of Dust From Gravel Roads

davebloggs007/Flickr

davebloggs007/Flickr

After much protest, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador will resume its dust control measures. Is this the start of change on a larger scale? Read the rest of this entry »

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West Coast’s Trucks Are a Concern for Coachella Residents

sergejf/Flickr

sergejf/Flickr

The West Coast mine, just north of Coachella, has been granted a permit to continue operations for 55 more years. We investigate the effects that this could have on traffic for the surrounding areas.
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Suppressing Dust on Gravel Roads

davebloggs007/Flickr

davebloggs007/Flickr

After much protest, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador will resume its dust control measures. Is this the start of change on a larger scale?
Read the rest of this entry »

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How to Control Air Pollution…Safely

Reports in recent weeks confirmed that oil sands are adding carcinogens to Canada’s Athabasca River. The good news in the bad news is that the carcinogens are being carried in the air, and air pollution can be controlled.

Given the importance of the oil sands to our economy and our future, the needed solution must absolutely stop dust clouds carrying airborne particulates. Reportedly, the particulates travel 50 kilometers, depositing possible contaminants on melted snow and in the Athabasca River. Dust blowing off the surfaces of big expanses at mines can be controlled – better yet, prevented – but stopping airborne particulates must not create any unintended consequences as those reported about the Athabasca River. That is why it is critical that agencies and businesses trying to control the air pollution that develops at their sites verify the effects the dust suppressants they use can have on the environment.  Today we have certified and verified environmental technologies (EnviroKleen® and EK35®) available that can stop airborne particulars.

Oil sands development located on the west bank of the Athabasca River. 28 February 2008. Photographs courtesy of Erin Kelly, published in Mongabay.com

Oil sands development located on the west bank of the Athabasca River. 28 February 2008. Photographs courtesy of Erin Kelly, published in Mongabay.com.

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The Threat of Unpaved Roads in Afghanistan

This CNN Q&A regarding the war in Afghanistan struck a chord with me.  The environmental difficulties our troops encounter is really unimaginable for most of us. Just reading this list of questions and answers caused me to stop and pause, almost tasting the “choking sandstorms” soldiers weather in the summer. In just a few sentences regarding their challenges, you cannot but be affected by the condition of unpaved roads and the threat they pose to our troops; much is being done and much more needs done to counter these conditions.  Midwest has helped the military in the past with similar dust issues, as illustrated by Major Steven A. Baker in this article published in Engineer - The Professional Bulletin of Army Engineers.

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The Best Choices Will Not Cost, They Will Pay

ReGeneration Productions is a company whose mission is to “create educational media that communicate the ideals and practice of urban sustainability.”  Their first endeavor, Mission:Sustainable, gives a “green” makeover to individuals needing to integrate sustainable practices into their lives. In a recent blog post titled “Working soil so that soil works for us,” ReGeneration states that they believe that "sustainability comes down to knowing that each choice we make has a 'cost.' The true 'cost' is a combination of the economic, social and environmental costs set against the offsetting benefits associated with each choice we make."   This concept has interesting value to the commercial and industrial segment of our earth community.

As stewards of clean air, clean water and human health, our mission is to help make improvements in the work processes used by industrial customers that deliver economic, social and environmental benefits that exceed the cost of those improvements.  The main areas of our work revolve around dust control, especially pm10 and pm2.5 health risks; sediment and erosion control, which pose risks to water and aquatic life; and stabilization that provides the social benefit of smooth, pothole free roadways for area residents while delivering improved business results and operating performance.

The amazing thing is that this is absolutely, positively doable today. There is so much improvement possible with the choices we make in the commercial and industrial arena while providing significant economic and social and environmental returns that we often say, "the best choices will not cost, they will pay."

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How to Be the Steward of Your Ash Pond

There certainly is a lot of attention being devoted to coal ash ponds in the media today from the 60 Minutes broadcast to all the recent print coverage. The media of course uncovers a few bad eggs, but we know that the industry itself has been dealing with ash pond management for decades. At Midwest, we have helped utility customers be stewards of their ash ponds for over 30 years. In our company lore and history, everyone at Midwest recalls the phone call we received from a customer on Super Bowl Sunday, January 31, 1993. The Dallas Cowboys played the Buffalo Bills (Dallas won 52-17!), and our utility customer had major problem; their very large ash pond surface had dried and frozen, resulting in it becoming a major source of dust for the local area. I said “we will be there in six hours with at least one crew and equipment and more will follow. And we will not leave until the pond is secure.” For two weeks in sub-zero conditions, our team sealed the pond surface and stopped any and all dust from blowing from it.

Ashpond Puzzle

So what does it take to continually manage and monitor your ash pond to avoid emergencies like this and those mentioned in the media?

-Spray a surface sealant on the pond that penetrates to the desired depth, creating a bonded matrix consisting of the sealant and the ash.

-This bonded matrix locks all fines and particles into the surface matrix and eliminates the root cause, free particles,  from becoming airborne and a nuisance or hazard to the local area.

-Maintain this application cycle on a yearly basis.

We can provide product and guidance for coal ash pond issues or do a complete turnkey installation.


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Buyer Beware

I would like to share an interesting story with you. It represents an example of why I believe independent testing of company claims is very important for the purchasers of products from companies within our industry – during the bidding stage, and then again during the delivery stage.

For many years we have been supplying a customer with their requirements for a dust palliative and soil stabilizer. Our multi-year contract just expired and the user has issued a notice of solicitation for current bids to fulfill their requirements. Their solicitation included a detailed performance requirement for the product to pass CBR lab testing for a specific soil type to meet the standards for the customer’s needs. The specification matched our specific product, which they have been using for many years.

In the bidding, a competitor quoted a price approximately 20% below our quoted price. Part of the competitive vendor’s bid information included marketing and test data to prove that their product was equal to the product called for in the specification.

Shortly after the competitor was awarded the new multi-year contract for the delivery and installation of their brand name product, based on being the low bidder, they began communicating with producers of the basic raw materials stating they had just received a multi-year contract and needed to source significant volumes of a non-prime polymer emulsion. Within these communications there was no product chemistry specification that might indicate that what they were trying to source would meet the requirements as called for by the purchaser’s specification.

So here is the issue; since testing and documentation for the specification requirements is typically only required at the bidding stage, and product sampling is NOT required at the delivery stage to assure the exact product specified in the bid is being delivered, the bait and switch can take place and the customer will never know.

It will take due diligence on the part of the customer to catch this bait and switch activity. It will also take significant due diligence to confirm that the environmental soundness of whatever is actually delivered and installed on public roadways is in fact what was represented.

We know that price is an issue and customers need to assure their constituencies that they have done everything possible to obtain the best product solution for the lowest price. We also know customers do not want to “buy price” and close their eyes to product deficiency and possible environmental issues.

This is why it is in the best interest of both the community of users and principled industry leaders to expose such bait and switch activities. This is needed for both the protection of people and the environment in which these products might be used.

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What is an Environmental Service?

We are proud to once again be listed among the country’s top privately-owned environmental services companies on the Inc. 5000 released recently. Being in environmental services not only means we focus on doing things that are best for the planet, but we also help sustain life and health. Being in environmental services means contributing to the health and welfare of the communities in which our customers operate.

Below is a press release regarding this honor.

Midwest Moves Up Inc. 5000’s List of Top 100 Privately-Owned

Environmental Services Companies

And What is an Environmental Service Anyway?

Canton, Ohio – October 12, 2009 – Call the products and programs environmental services or call them by what they accomplish – dust suppression, erosion control, ice control – and the fact remains the same:

“Those of us in environmental services focus on doing things that are best for the planet, which in turn helps sustain life and health. It is an area that delivers the unique reward of knowing that the work you do for customers is also contributing to the health and welfare of our whole community,” said Midwest founder Bob Vitale.

Doing so has been the philosophy of Midwest, one of the largest dust control companies in the market, since it was founded 34 years ago when the word green conjured up images of grass and Crayola colors and Kermit the frog, not the environment. It is this commitment, Vitale believes, that helped Midwest land on the Inc. 5000’s list of the Top 100 in Environmental Services, moving up 18 places to 78th from the prior listing in 2007.

Always seeking new ways to serve the needs of its clients and the environment Midwest is currently working:

-With the ERDC U.S. Army Corps  of Engineers to test the performance and safety of two new products

-With the Environmental Protection Agency and their public efforts about its ETV Certification so buyers can be more discerning about choosing products

-On a new conceptual method to evaluate and compare the environmental soundness and safety of products used on roads as dust palliatives

-Implementing  Fines Preservation Programs™ with no eco-toxicological impact across Alaska and Canada, going beyond dust control to bind unpaved surfaces into uniformly strong and durable structures that will not lose gravel, resulting in a life cycle cost reduction of  at least a 50%

-As part of a consortium of university research departments,  the Federal Highway Administration, USDA Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and a handful of other manufacturers to identify current best practices for road dust control and stabilization and their evolution to future improvements

-Participating in community air quality conferences which are particularly valuable forums for community managers to share their road dust issues with industry experts who will in turn share best practices.

“It is not easy to grow and develop as individuals and as a business,” Vitale said “We know that success depends on the choices we make in each of those areas every day. We are proud of Inc.’s recognition because it is a statement that we have chosen well,” Vitale said.

Midwest lives in, manufactures for, and delivers Earth-conscious solutions to clients in the quarry, mining, construction, iron/steel and other industries whose success depends on overcoming dust, erosion, ice, soil stabilization and other operating issues.

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