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Living the Dream

Recently, I had my 11-year anniversary at Environmental Standards.  I started in October 2005 as a temporary employee on the PPL Martins Creek Power Plant Fly Ash Event.  The Martins Creek Power Plant is a coal-fired power production facility that routinely produces fly ash, a residual product of the coal combustion process.  On August 25, 2005, a component of a discharge control structure within an ash basin at the facility failed, allowing an estimated 100 million gallons of fly ash-containing process water to flow out of the ash basin, across PPL-owned property, through the Oughoughton Creek bed, and ultimately into the Delaware River.

It was an all-hands-on-deck event that brought the entire company together working on a common project – then it rained, and rained, and RAINED.  Sampling in the morning, sampling in the evening, sampling all night long.  If we weren’t sampling, then Environmental Standards was developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for sampling surface water, the operation of automated samplers (24-hour aliquot sampler), potable wells, soil sampling, sample and equipment packing, proper sample labeling and shipping, and equipment decontamination.  All aspects of the project, from sample collection to final analytical data package validation, were managed by Environmental Standards.  Everyone had a common rally point – the PPL Martins Creek Project.


With the experience gained from the Martins Creek Project under our belt, Environmental Standards was positioned to grow.  With a wealth of oversight and organizational experience, Environmental Standards landed in Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and then jumped on a shuttle for the Houma, Louisiana Command Center and BAM! – We were suddenly part of the Remediation Team for the biggest oil release in United States history, and the excitement didn’t end until the plane lifted off for the return trip home to Philadelphia.

We worked 10 (sometimes more) 12-hour  days in a row followed by 4 days off (maybe), then right back at it.  It was another all-hands-on-deck event!  Hectic Times!  Long days at the Command Center – longs nights “celebrating” the long days end at the condo!  (Yes – we had our own home-away-from-home – the Condo).  Then the rest on the plane returning back to Philly.  Whew! Wheels Up! Eyes Closed!

Days in Houma were spent traveling to field oversights on islands, inlets, beaches, and ships.  Some days we were at the Command Center (where’s my vest?) – making Sampling Plans, editing SOPs, overseeing sample shipments to laboratories, sample packaging, and Chain-of-Custody Records … did I mention making Sampling Plans?  Some days it was breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Command Center.  Another time there was a Hurricane scare – How to leave?  Who would leave?  Who wouldn’t leave?  Yikes!  Starbucks!

After one long day, two of us sat down to eat 3 pounds of grilled crawfish purchased for $10 from a roadside stand just outside of Cocodrie, Louisiana (we found out 3 pounds of crawfish is a LOT of crawfish).  Other nights it was chicken or someone’s dinner specialty.  Then, Pictionary!  Some of the home without being Home.

These are a few of my moments from the past 11 years.  I’m sure there are more stories ahead that I have yet to get to – so I’m “Moving Forward!”

Environmental Standards Employee Number 00373