Environmental Awards

Judges for the 13th annual Commitment to Environmental Excellence Awards recognized eight ready mixed producers, serving six states and one Canadian province,

Judges for the 13th annual Commitment to Environmental Excellence Awards recognized eight ready mixed producers, serving six states and one Canadian province, as industry leaders in environmental stewardship. In addition to winners for each of three categories, companies that invested significant capital and effort to upgrade an old plant to the level of a model facility were honored with the Comeback Kid award. Program cosponsors Concrete Products magazine and the Environmental Task Group of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s Operations, Environment and Safety Committee commend all of this year’s contestants for their environmental initiatives.

The Environmental Excellence Awards program is open to any NRMCA member company owning a fixed plant in the U.S. or Canada. To be eligible, facilities must have operated in full compliance with federal, state and local environmental regulations for a minimum of two years. Criteria weighed by the judges include compliance, site aesthetics, written plant procedures, training and employee involvement, water/solid waste management, air quality management, community relations, operating challenges, overall management commitment, and environmental delivery awareness. Accordingly, written overviews of each criterion are submitted by contestants with photos illustrating air- and water-pollution control methods, noise abatement measures, and landscaping.

Entries for the Environmental Excellence program are split into three categories based on the plant’s annual production volume: A for plants producing less than 50,000 yd.; B for plants producing between 50,000 and 100,000 yd.; and, C for plants producing more than 100,000 yd.

Award winners will be formally recognized during a ceremony at NRMCA’s Operations, Environmental and Safety (OES) Forum, a training and education program featuring seminars and tours designed specifically for ready mixed fleet, plant, safety and environmental professionals. The Forum will anchor the NRMCA 2007 Fall Conference and Expo, October 28-30 in Phoenix. The Environmental Excellence Awards program is sustained by contestants’ participation, and producers are encouraged to enter their plants later this year for the 2008 competition. Entry forms are available at www.nrmca.org.



Anticipating challenges facing the first industrial occupant in a largely undeveloped area at the edge of an expanding metropolitan region, company personnel cultivated community relations and strategized wisely in establishing the Argo facility. Concerns of local citizens were addressed at neighborhood meetings during plant design and building phases, and a corporate contact was appointed to respond to inquiries. Further preempting any community opposition were precautions taken in site selection as well as plant construction and operation, i.e., locating the facility away from the public roadway; installing a paved and landscaped entrance; designing an efficient, low-maintenance dust-control system; attending to water quality; and, protecting adjacent wetlands. That such measures have been effective was confirmed by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) compliance evaluation conducted a year ago by EPA’s Region IV. An unblemished record, maintained since the Argo Plant began operation in 2004, thus remains intact.


PLANT #2028

While Plant #2028 takes pride in compliance with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) storm water and air quality permits, as well as multiple federal and city regulations, meeting those standards constitutes only the beginning of its commitment to environmental stewardship. Asserting that mere regulatory compliance provides minimal protection of the environment, company officials augment such efforts with tidy, attractive site aesthetics; extensive pavement for dust control; and, a closed-loop water system, including a three-day washout pit and adjacent holding pond for process and storm water containment and recycling.

Best management practices detailed in the Employee Environmental Handbook and Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWP3) ensure that high standards reflected in the plant’s design and technology are maintained on a daily basis. Thus, for example, sediments are removed as necessary from the washout pit by means of a front-end loader, whose operator is also responsible for cleaning spilled aggregate on the pavement, inspecting central dust-collector bags, and routinely watering stockpiles.



Improving upon an already exemplary record Û the Everett Plant has never received a citation or citizen complaint involving environmental noncompliance Û several new measures have been implemented at the dry-batch operation, whose 22 employees include four plant operators and laborers, one mechanic, and 15 mixer truck drivers. Recent improvements include an environmental training program that encompasses all facility employees, including drivers who extend ÎgreenÌ principles to each delivery site, as well as a plant manager who regards compliance as the norm and reinforces best practices.

Now in effect is a zero-tolerance policy for on-site untidiness or spillage from barges, necessitating an upgrade to the barge-unloading conveyor system for effective water and material containment. Additionally, a paved, fully contained water-processing yard treats water with either CO2 or acid to control pH and achieve low turbidity with acceptable total suspended solids (TSS) results. Riverbank landscaping provides an ecosystem friendly to both migrating and native fish species of the Snohomish River Û a salmon-bearing waterway flowing into Puget Sound Û on whose banks the Everett Plant is located.



Since the Durham facility opened in 1983, followed by a second plant built on the same site a year later in anticipation of significant expansion in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park area, operating conditions have changed dramatically. Where no neighbors existed nearly a quarter century ago, several businesses have been established close to the plant. Moreover, the heavily traveled Durham Freeway adjacent to the property brings the facility into plain view of motorists driving from Durham to RTP and Raleigh. Consequently, controlling water runoff, nuisance dust, and noise has become a chief priority to curtail the operation’s local impact and meet more stringent environmental regulations.

Accordingly, Durham Plant #603 has been redesigned to collect and contain all process wastewater and storm water at the site. To accomplish this aim without forcing water to flow uphill, most water-consuming functions were moved up grade near the collection basins, and two concrete settling ponds (augmenting three existing basins) were constructed where the reclaimer was located. A CO2 treatment system now lowers pH of the water, which is recycled to the truck wash area, slump rack, and an underground piping system installed to route water back to the plant. Return concrete is resold, placed in block forms, hauled off as fill material, or used to pave plant drives and parking areas for fugitive dust control. Air quality is further maintained by bag filters on cement and fly ash silos, the cement/fly ash scale, and truck-loading points.



Predictably, for a five-acre facility located in Arizona’s Pinal County, water management is the plant’s greatest operating challenge, while fugitive-dust control runs a close second. Water containment and recycling systems eliminate all process and storm water discharges from the site, as they conserve a valuable resource. Contour paving, concrete curbing, and block walls along property lines facilitate water management. Collected in containment structures is water recycled for use in slump adjustments, truck washing and rinsing, as well as dust suppression. Also contributing to air quality are baghouse dust collectors on the silos and a grizzly that provides controlled unloading of aggregates from belly dump trucks before material transfer to storage areas.

A consistent, high level of environmental stewardship is promoted by comprehensive quarterly inspections, which rate each operation on a scale up to 100 on scorecards submitted to upper management. Since implementation of the program, the Apache Junction Plant has invariably achieved a score exceeding 96.



In operation since 1917, the Granville Island Plant has evolved over nearly a century to meet the growing demands of a competitive business, including stricter environmental regulations, as it represents part of the history of a tourist destination drawing eight million visitors annually. The facility’s status as a community asset and good neighbor rests largely on its strict adherence to several principles.

The first of these Û no waste product will be removed from the site Û is implemented by means of two reclaimers that facilitate truck washout and extraction of aggregate from concrete unsuitable for reuse in nonspec mixes or the operation’s block program. All process water from rinsing out mixer trucks, recycling concrete, or washing the central mixed plant is contained in a 40,000-gal. closed-loop system. Its automated density-measurement regulates the blending of reclaim water and storm water in three tanks to achieve 1.05 specific gravity in a fourth tank, thereby enabling process water to be reused in certain orders. Thus, the plant recycles 100 percent of all waste concrete and process water with no solid waste transported off site.

Application of the second principle Û water conservation Û is evident in trenching around the plant-site perimeter to capture all storm water, which is treated with CO2 to bring pH to an appropriate level for discharge as needed into the municipal sewer system. Additionally, running water through a Stormceptor oil/water/suspended solids separator ensures the discharged water is clean. Air quality is maintained by dust collectors placed at strategic points, i.e., weigh hoppers, mixer-charging station, and silo baghouses, plus pavement covering the entire site.

Further enhancing its ÎgreenÌ status, the plant supports Ocean’s participation in the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s (GVRD) EcoSmart program, developed to promote the use of fly ash as a supplementary cementitious material in ready mixed. Ocean has advanced the EcoSmart initiative by helping to establish research parameters for local high volume fly ash (HVFA) trials and supplying concrete for EcoSmart’s first major HVFA project, the Lui Center for the Study of Global Issues at the University of British Columbia. Its parent company, Lehigh Northwest Cement Ltd., provided fly ash cement for studies conducted in Canmet’s Ottawa research lab and funded the cost of an industry consultant to GVRD. Ocean’s continued ÎgreenÌ concrete promotion includes working with local engineers, architects, and builders to change concrete strength specifications for mass footings, parking slabs, and vertical walls (from 28 days to 56 or 91 days) on several commercial high rises, thereby permitting substantially higher fly ash usage.



Located 16 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, the dual-alley, dry-batch Sun Valley Plant Û now more than half a century in operation Û has been extensively reconfigured to meet current environmental regulations. When the facility was built in the early 1950s, concrete-plant grading specifications dictated that the center of the yard be the highest point to ensure flow of water off site. Consequently, the plant’s reconstruction entailed sloping of the yard and installation of concrete berms, curbs, and V-ditches to help contain and redirect process water into concrete-lined settling ponds, whose clarified contents are pumped to dual 10,000-gal. holding tanks that feed the production process.

Given its proximity to Los Angeles, the operation caters to contractors whose work spans the range of backyard patios to major freeway interchanges, plus concrete specialty work. Thus, trucks returning with concrete from customers who have over ordered are not uncommon, generating as much as 4,000 yd. of excess concrete annually. Adding to that quantity 2,000 yd. of washout-pond residue, the plant handles an average of 6,000 yd. of solid waste per year. To facilitate recycling of the material, recent yard improvements included renovation of the washout pits and the storage area for drying pit sediment in preparation for transport to a crushing facility, as well as upgrading the station where mixers drop off their excess concrete.


PLANT 9?10

Prior to the installation of a reclaimer and storm water treatment and filtration system, the bowl-like yard of Plant 9-10 often would be submerged in up to three feet of water at various points. Site flooding, especially during the rainy season, exacerbated attendant truck-maintenance issues as mixers routinely drove through the water. Today, the facility operates safely throughout the wet season and fully complies with all environmental regulations in a state noted for stringent standards.

A 10,000-gal. storage tank in combination with a collection pond provides a process-water management system capable of storing approximately 50,000 gallons. All water at the reclaimer site Û where an Enviro-Port unit allows up to four mixers to discharge returned concrete and wash out simultaneously Û drains to the process water collection pond, from which it is pumped into reclaimer tanks for clarification and reuse in the batching process. At the central mix and dry batch plants, process water is directed into sumps adjacent to mixer loading areas for pumping to the reclaimer for treatment. Overhead, 4-in., vinyl hose lines accomplish process water transfer to the reclaimer and carry clarified water from the reclaimer to the batch plants.

All storm water on site drains into a concrete-lined collection pond, featuring a shallow section tapering to a deeper end to facilitate cleaning with a wheel loader. A removable gate allows sediment to settle in the front third of the pond as storm water flows over the partition to the deeper end. A sufficient water level in the pond actuates an automatic pump, forcing water to a collection tank, where pH level is recorded and modified by the addition of acid to attain a proper reading. Once pH is lowered to an acceptable range, the storm water is discharged through a 250-ft. filtration system consisting of 6-in. rock and cobblestone, as well as planted vegetation, to filter out remaining sediment before the water exits through a storm drain equipped with a filter whose acid-impregnated media provides further treatment.