Wednesday, March 29, 2017

PACNY's Environmental Conference - Day 1 - And So It Begins!

This year's Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) 21st Annual Environmental Conference was definitely more technical then previous years.  The first day of the PACNY environmental conference started with the Proficiency Workshop for Trainers.  The Proficiency Workshop speakers consisted of Mr. Kevin Malone, Director of New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH); Mr. Don Pierce of New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL); and Mr. Kevin Hutton of Eastcoast Resources; and Mr. Ed Smith of NYSDOL Engineering Services Unit.

It was a modest Day One which started with networking during lunch. Mr. Malone started the presentations by providing us with an update on the statistics of the asbestos training program.  As we have come to expect the number of individuals attending asbestos courses shrinks every year.  The 2016 stats were 26,734 total certs issued broken done 21,642 refresher certs and 5,092 initial certs issued at 3,349 total classes held.  Those numbers are down from the 2015 stats that were 27,731 total certificates issued with 22,074 refresher certs and 5,657 initial certs issued at 3,436 training courses.
Mr. Kevin Malone of NYSDOH
The next presenter was Mr. Pierce discussing the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) auditing update.  For those of you who don't know, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been providing New York State (NYS) with a grant to perform audits of public and private school's AHERA required management plans.  The presentation included a discussion on the process of selecting schools to be audited (randomly selected and/or based upon cause {complaint}), how the data is collected and how the information is provided back to EPA.  In addition, Mr. Pierce discussed several issues the audits have found:
  • EPA accepts electronic record-keeping, but hard copies of the original survey and asbestos management plan must be maintained at the Local Education Agency (LEA) office.
  • The LEA must assign and train a designated person to oversee asbestos activities and ensure compliance with AHERA requirements.  The designated person must be trained but does not require them to be accredited and does not list a specific course or specific number of hours. It does list specific training topics which include - health effects; detection, identification, & assessment of asbestos; options for controlling asbestos; asbestos management plan topics; and relevant Federal, State, and local regulations for asbestos.  As a side note: Future Environment Designs (FEDTC) recommends designated persons take the asbestos inspector (3 day) and management planner (2 day) initial courses to meet the AHERA requirements.
  • EPA allows two methods for new additions to existing buildings.  An architect or project engineer responsible for the construction of a new school building after October 12, 1988 or an accredited inspector to:
    • to sign a statement that no asbestos containing building materials (ACBM) was specified as a building material in any construction document for the building, or
    • to the best of his or her knowledge, no ACBM was used in any building material in the building.
    • The LEA must submit a copy of this statement to the EPA Regional Office and shall include the statement in the management plan of the school.
  • Deficiencies found by the audit included:
    • Periodic surveillances were missing or weren't well documented
    • Documentation of notifications not included or well documented
    • ACBM removal not updated in the management plan
    • Clearance air monitoring records not available per AHERA
Mr. Don Pierce of NYSDOL
After a short break, the Variance Writing Workshop with Mr. Hutton and Mr. Smith was up next.  This nearly two-hour presentation, got into the details of submitting and writing variances that Mr. Smith's Engineering Services Unit (ESU) reviews for approval, disapproval, or modification. Some of the points discussed:
Mr. Kevin Hutton of Eastcoast Resources
  • According to the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Re-authorization Act (ASHARA) an asbestos project designer is required on Public and Commercial Building asbestos projects (including residential buildings with 10 or more dwellings).
  • When writing a variance consider your audience: DOL ESU; Abatement Contractor, Project Monitor; Asbestos Control Bureau (ACB) Inspector; Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Inspector (Compliance Safety Officer); and the Courts.
  • Mr. Smith discussed that his department handles between 1400-1500 variances a year.  About 25% are then reopened, with another 5% reopened a second time and another 5% reopened a third time.  Mr. Smith also provided us with a list of Pet Peeves regarding variance applications which included:
    • Failing to explicitly list what code sections you are requesting relief from
    • Don't be lazy and simply submit someone else's variance and state you want to do what is in that variance.  Own your work, your client is paying you to apply for a variance on their behalf.
    • "State-Wide" emergencies
    • Try to limit your write-up to the hardship and proposed steps to be taken to work around the hardship.
Mr. Ed Smith of NYSDOL Engineering Services Unit
Variance workshop ended the first day of the Conference.  That evening we celebrated & networked at the President's Reception featuring Dan the Magic Man!
John of TS Steakhouse at Turning Stone Casino

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