|Education of industrial users has been a major focus of efforts by NBC's P2 Program. Unlike other states such as Massachusetts, Rhode Island has no licensing or certification program for Industrial Wastewater Operators. Existing educational programs were limited to some theoretically-based college courses in wastewater treatment and contract training seminars that often addressed regulatory issues in a general manner non-specific to Rhode Island requirements. A practical and cost effective source of training was not available.
Based on the experiences of NBC and RI DEM regulatory divisions, manufacturing operator error has often been found to be the major cause of many wastewater discharge violations and hazardous material releases. In many instances, small manufacturing companies have invested significant amounts of money on wastewater pretreatment and pollution control equipment and instrumentation while giving little attention to proper operator training.
In order to address these training needs, the NBC applied for and received a $60,000 matching funds grant award from EPA in September of 1996 to establish an Industrial Wastewater and Pollution Prevention Training course. The course curriculum, developed as part of this project, includes training in up-to-date wastewater treatment, environmental regulations, and pollution prevention/source reduction techniques and methodologies, as well as:
- Wastewater Mathematics - General Chemistry - Fluid Flow Measurement - Environmental Regulations - Industrial Operations Overview - Wastewater Treatment Operations - pH control - Cyanide Destruction - Metals Removal - Pollution Prevention Overview - Ion Exchange - Water Use Reduction - Membrane Separation
The NBC Industrial Wastewater and Pollution Prevention Training Program is offered through the Community College of Rhode Island as a three credit 45 hour college course. The course has been offered five times: Fall 1996, Spring 1997, Spring 1998 and Fall 1998, training a total of more than 60 students. The next offering of this course was scheduled for the fall 1999 semester.
A more industry specific educational effort put forth by the NBC involves the local metal finishing industry. More than 135 metal finishing companies operate within the NBC servicing district and these combined operations discharge large volumes of industrial wastewater to the 2 NBC treatment plants and generate a variety of solid and hazardous wastes. NBC and RI DEM regulatory staff devote a tremendous amount of time and effort monitoring and regulating this industrial sector. In turn, these companies have put forth great effort and have gone to great expense to control waste generation and to become educated in pollution prevention and source reduction practices.
In December of 1996, the Surface Finishing Industry Council published the "Metal Finishing Guidance Manual" as part of the National Common Sense Initiative. This extensive document, written by Eastern Research Group with assistance by GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., focuses on pollution prevention compliance, and safety procedures in the metal finishing industry.
NBC proposed to organize a series of one-day seminars, based on this manual, to help the local metal finishing industry to make the most use of this vital information. In October 1998, NBC received a $25,000 matching fund grant award from EPA to develop and present these seminars. The sessions have taken place at centrally located facilities within Rhode Island and are offered at times that are most convenient for the industrial community to attend. As part of this seminar series, each attendee may purchase a copy of the Metal Finishing Guidance Manual. Grant funds have been used to reduce the Manual's overall cost from $300 to $70. The seminars are free of charge.
The first of these seminars was offered on January 13, 1999 on the topic of Hazardous Waste Management. More than 60 representatives from local metal finishing companies attended. A second seminar on Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know regulations was offered on February 25, 1999. A third was held on June 13, 1999 on Toxic Release Inventory Reporting and a fourth seminar was held on June 17, 1999 on Industrial Wastewater Discharges. Two additional seminars were held during the fall and winter 1999.