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WELL-INFORMED ENVIRONMENTAL STAFF CAN HELP SAVE A COMPANY MILLION$


May 1, 1999
By Pulp & Paper Canada

In this day and age of re-structuring and streamlining, mill environmental staff seem to be swamped with responsibilities and overworked. Attending technical courses, conferences and training sessions…

In this day and age of re-structuring and streamlining, mill environmental staff seem to be swamped with responsibilities and overworked. Attending technical courses, conferences and training sessions often have a low priority compared to the critical tasks which need to be continually addressed at the mill. However, the lack of professional development for environmental staff can be costly to mills and corporations.

COST OF IGNORANCE

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Over the years, one of the classic examples of environmental overspending has been the cost of secondary treatment facilities at kraft pulp mills across the country. The range spans from $10 million to $100 million for a typical Canadian mill. According to some industry experts, the main reason is that mills don’t always bother researching the systems or cost of effluent control at other facilities. They may rely solely on the expertise of suppliers or consultants who are selling high-tech systems as opposed to environmental awareness and operator training. In other words, proper in-mill controls and operator training can save millions of dollars in effluent treatment costs.

A classic example of environmental overspending has been the old Boat Harbour treatment facility which treats the effluent from the Kimberly-Clark Nova Scotia kraft pulp mill in Pictou County, NS. The facility has recently been upgraded and is now state-of-the-art, but its history is riddled with operational flaws which have cost the Nova Scotia government (the old operator of the facility) and taxpayers millions of dollars due to treatment system studies, upgrades and lawsuits.

The lack of due diligence and investment in pollution prevention systems has also cost other companies millions, either in environmental clean-up costs and/or legal battles. Had these companies been prepared with good emergency response plans, trained personnel, environmental procedures for mill shutdowns, and effluent toxicity remedial plans, certain problems could have been avoided.

The main message is that the range of actual costs of solving environmental problems is very wide, and well-informed environmental staff can help the company choose cost-effective solutions.

WHERE TO LOOK

There are many courses, workshops, conferences and/or committees, which environmental staff can participate in every year. The events can be ranked in terms of the following criteria:

1. Presence and presentations given by technical experts working in the field (industry, consulting, suppliers), and the opportunity to expand a network of experts for future reference.

2. Mill visits and case studies given or presented.

3. Opportunities to discuss specific issues relating to your mill.

A list of recommended events is presented below:

TAPPI/PAPTAC environmental conference.

PAPTAC annual meeting (PaperWeek).

Conference technologique estivale, Quebec City.

PAPTAC committee meetings.

PAPTAC and TAPPI technical courses.

The key environmental conference for pulp and paper is without doubt the annual environmental conference co-sponsored by TAPPI and PAPTAC. The conference deals with all mill environmental issues and is an excellent source of current information.

PAPTAC committees are an excellent source of up-to-date technical information and links to experts in the field. Meetings are scheduled three times per year, usually in conjunction with pulp and paper environmental conferences that committee members would attend. The PAPTAC committees on environment, pulping and bleaching, and power/recovery boilers regularly deal with environmental matters.

As an example, the PAPTAC Environment Committee meeting held in Nashville on April 18 had the following agenda:

Summary of COD survey at mills;

Two presentations on environmental cost accounting;

Roundtable discussions on relevant issues at mills;

Business items (including mill tour planned for fall 1999, presentation on odor problems at mills, PaperWeek 2000 organization);

Sub-committee reports (ISO 14000, total reduced sulphur, environmental effects monitoring, chemical oxygen demand, activated sludge treatment, environmental cost accounting, filament identification).

The January meeting in Montreal also included an excellent presentation by Michael Innes, corporate environmental director, Abitibi-Consolidated, on A synopsis of environmental issues facing our mills.

More information can be obtained at the following numbers:

PAPTAC, Tel.: 514-392-0265, E-mail: tech@paptac.ca; Web site: www.paptac.ca

TAPPI, Tel: 1-800-446-9431, Web site: www.tappi.org

Process closure and spill control courses, like the ones offered by TAPPI/PAPTAC, can also provide valuable information to companies. TAPPI always organizes several environmental short courses relating to topics such as environmental control, activated sludge plant operations, and environmental management systems.

QMI offers courses on environmental management systems, internal auditing of EMS, and lead auditor training courses (Tel: 1-800-465-3717).

The Major Industrial Accidents Council of Canada (MIACC) offers courses on risk assessment, process safety management, disaster exercises, loss management, and crisis communication (Tel: 613-232-4435; E-mail: miacc@globalx.net).

The Ontario Natural Resources Safety Association (ONRSA) offers courses on WHMIS and safety/emergency topics (Tel: 705-474-7233).

The American Society of Testing and Materials offers courses on EMS and ISO 14000, environmental auditing, environmental liability and risk management, and environmental site assessment practices (Tel: 610-832-9686; E-mail: service@astm.org).

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Maritimes Region) offers a certification course in engineering and aquatic environment which is looked upon very favorably by DFO and other regulatory agencies (Tel: 902-426-2549).

Environmental personnel attending conferences, courses and meetings should have clearly defined expectations and responsibilities for collecting and distributing information within their companies. They should have the following responsibilities:

Distribute copies of relevant technical articles to senior staff within the mill.

Inform mill staff that articles or conference proceedings are available through them.

Write a summary report and give a summary presentation to senior mill personnel on the conference, course or meeting they attended.


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