Tag Archives: awards

DHEC Team and Partner Cited in National Engineering Competition for Chemical Contamination Cleanup

DHEC’s South Carolina Drycleaning Facility Restoration Trust Fund (DFRTF) team with engineering services provided WSP USA Inc. (WSP, formerly Ecology & Environment, Inc.) earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 54th annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) for performing environmental assessment and contamination remediation statewide at former dry cleaning facility sites enrolled in the DFRTF program.

Konstantine Akhvlediani, Robert Hodges, and LaJoyce Perkins-Alexander compose the agency team and their mission is to clean up contaminated dry-cleaning sites using state contractors, all of which is paid for from the trust fund. The team administers the fund and directs and oversees the cleanup activities.

Preliminary assessment (PA) was performed at 420 former dry-cleaning facility sites to determine the magnitude of environmental contamination resulting from the use of various chemicals. Of these, 100 sites were closed where no impact was found and more than 300 sites had chemical residue that posed a risk to private and public drinking water wells. Following the PA risk-based ranking of sites, comprehensive remedial investigations beginning with sites exhibiting with the highest potential risks to drinking water sources was initiated.

Dry-cleaning solvent impacts to groundwater and soil were evaluated by identifying source areas and delineating the extent of dissolved contaminants using rapid vertical profiling techniques for sample collection combined with a highly effective and innovative field-based colorimetric screening method for low-level detection of chlorinated compounds. WSP specifically developed this screening method to facilitate real-time decision making and strengthened overall data quality resulting in significantly accelerated process of source identification and dissolved contaminant delineation.

Once fully characterized with contaminant fate and transport determined, each site was reprioritized. Sites presenting the greatest risk were addressed through design and implementation of various remedial actions including source removal, in-situ chemical oxidation, in-situ biostimulation, and/or monitored natural attenuation.

A special approach was designed to rapidly evaluate the Vapor Intrusion Potential (VIP) of contaminant impacts to the sub-slab soil gas and indoor air facilities currently occupied by non-dry cleaning-related businesses. At sites with indoor air concentrations exceeding target cleanup concentrations, the team designed and implemented an approach to mitigate the indoor air impacts using a modified Sub-Slab Depressurization System (SSDS). Originally designed for radon mitigation, this system requires minimal design modifications and utilizes readily available system components.

This significantly minimized design and construction costs. Most SSDS systems achieved target Vapor Intrusion Screening Levels for drycleaning related compounds within 30 days of startup. The SSDS systems also provide significant removal of chlorinated solvent mass from the sub-slab soils. To date, the systems have collectively removed over 800 pounds of tetrachloroethylene from beneath former DC facilities.

The project also received the additional honor of Diamond Award from ACEC New York this year representing engineering excellence from throughout the nation and the world. Judging for the awards program—known industry-wide as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry”– took place in February and was conducted by a national 20-member panel of built-environment leaders, along with experts from government, media, and academia. Award criteria focused on uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value, and generating excitement for the engineering profession.

Recognition of all award winners including top winners—20 Honor Awards, 16 Grand Awards, and the prestigious “Grand Conceptor Award” for the year’s most outstanding overall engineering achievement—took place during the 2021 Virtual EEA Gala, held Thursday, June 17, 2021.

DHEC Employees Win Big at the 2019 Palmetto Gold Nurse Awards and Gala: 12 Employees Honored

In its 18th year, the Palmetto Gold Nurse Awards Gala recognizes exemplary Registered Nurses throughout South Carolina who are constantly raising the bar in healthcare.  Through a nomination and selection process, 100 nurses are chosen each year and honored at the Gala.  To date, over 1400 nurses have been honored with this award.  This year, DHEC is proud to have 12 of our own recognized.

The gala was held on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.  Join us as we congratulate our 2019 Palmetto Gold Recipients!

DHEC in the News: Flu, park wins national environmental award

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

SC flu deaths more than double in the new year

South Carolina health officials say 15 people have died of the flu so far this season, more than double the number of deaths at this time last year.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Friday the 15 deaths occurred through Jan. 6.

Upstate businesses combating flu season

As flu season continues to attack the Upstate, workplaces in Spartanburg County are working on ways to keep employees healthy and productivity high.

Sky Foster, BMW Manufacturing Co. Spartanburg’s department manager of corporate communications, said the company plans for flu and cold season months in advance in an effort to keep as many employees as healthy as possible.

Lake Conestee Nature Park wins national environmental award

Lake Conestee Nature Park has been awarded a 2017 Phoenix Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for excellence in brownfield redevelopment.

The award was created in 1997 to honor individuals and groups who are working to solve the critical environmental challenge of transforming blighted and contaminated areas into productive new uses, according to a press release.

 

Champions of the Environment: Solar Power Shines at Leaphart Elementary School

by
Ms. Heather Reitenga
Leaphart Elementary School

 

This is the fourth of a series of blog posts recognizing winners of the 2016 Champions of the Environment awards.

Our students are very excited about our solar panel project for our school greenhouse.  They are having the opportunity to learn about renewable energy options that are very attainable for us right now.  They are learning about the kind of energy that the sun provides, how this energy can be used as a renewable resource, about energy flow and how energy affects us. One thing that has helped us out is to feel good about starting out small. Our first project is using the solar power for the irrigation in the greenhouse. This isn’t a critical need and requires a small amount of energy. This low stakes approach has made us more comfortable about experimenting and learning. Because this is not high stakes energy consumption, we can have students be the designers and engineers of the systems.  Although we are starting out smaller, our panels and inverter have the ability for higher output. This project will definitely have impacts on our school for years to come because we were able to purchase a high capacity system. We will be able to continue to add to this system until we are giving out students a clear picture of the maximum capacity of these panels.

Our advice for teachers and classes that want to start their own environmental education project is to team up with experts!  We really had no one in our school that knew very much about solar energy.  We learned from Grape Solar about what type of system we needed, and then we got some great on-site information from Patrick Smallwood, one of our district’s Clean Energy Technology Instructors.  Having Patrick come out has led to a great partnership, and Patrick’s students are excited about coming out to our school for Earth Day to help us learn even more about solar energy! Environmental education is so very important for our future. We need to show our students that science, clean energy, and a clean environment are important, fun, and can impact our lives in a very positive way.

Champions of the Environment: Dent Middle School Mitigates Stormwater Runoff

by
Dr. Rachel Tustin
Dent Middle School

This is the first of series of blog posts recognizing winners of the 2016 Champions of the Environment awards.

Environmental education has been an important part of my life since I was a small child. I grew up in the Midwest, and my grandfather was a chemical engineer at a refinery. When he started out in his career, there weren’t a lot of regulations to protect the environment from what they were doing. He was a pioneer in fighting for protecting the environment in the oil industry. I spent a lot of time with him growing up working on various environmental projects, such as building gardens on vacant lots in our community. He said protecting the earth was a way to show your respect to whichever creator you believe in, and that is something I have carried with me for many years.

The October 2015 flood was the inspiration for our rain garden project. We have an enormous number of storm drains on our campus, that all drain into Carys Lake. At the end of last year, my students had to propose solutions to the issues they saw from our lake studies. Creating a rain garden was one of their ideas to mitigate our campus run off. I think one of the key lessons my students are learning from this project is that protecting our lake environment is an important part of their campus and community legacy. As responsible citizens, it’s not enough to just understand the lake ecosystem. They need to use that information to improve the situation for our community.

I think my favorite part of the project is getting students to apply science in a hands-on way. In designing their rain gardens, it hasn’t just been about research and coming up with a plan. Rather, it has been about applying science and engineering skills to solve a problem they identified in the community. A lot of students are taking huge pride in the fact that their design will be on our campus long after they have graduated and moved on. They are embracing it as their legacy to Dent.

The most challenging part of any project is funding and execution. We have been fortunate that the community embraced our project and we have been extremely well funded. For any teachers who are considering an environment project in their classroom, you always want to identify some funding sources. It can be granted, but it may also be donations or fundraisers. If your students are passionate about the idea, and it is worthwhile to your community, people will help you find the resources to make it happen.