The "EPI" perspective on the Demo Day with Peak Environmental
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to our friend Ken Nieuwenhuis, LSRP and founder of PEAKEnvironmental LLC, for their successful company relocation to a new building in East Brunswick, NJ.Peak is a full service environmental consultant firm established in 1997 and now employs over 40 employees.
Tom Widmeier had just started EPI in 1994 when he crossed paths with Ken when EPI was demonstrating the newest drilling technology, a Geoprobe(!), at a large NJ petroleum refinery and Ken was a project manager with a national consulting company. A respectful relationship started when EPI was hired to utilize the new “Direct Push Technologies” over traditional drilling methods.
Fast forward 25 years and hundreds of Peak/EPI jobs later...EPI conducted a safety meeting with thePeak employees in the front yard of their new office. First, the EPI Geophysics crew located and marked buried water, gas, sewer, and electric lines using both line tracing and ground penetrating radar while explaining the equipment’s capabilities. Then, an EPI drilling crew used a VacMaster machine “daylighting” the gas line by excavating a cylindrical hole approximately 10” wide and 2.5’ deep to expose the gas line.
Both of us called the NJ One Call system, two sets of mark outs ~ double the protection, right? Wrong!
The EPI GPR team located a private underground water drainage system and private underground electrical lines for the outside lighting. Neither was MARKED-OUT by the NJ One call contractors!!Private utilities are not the responsibility of One Call contractors. The NJ One Call system is required for all site excavations, but it does not tell the whole story.
This was a great example to all about “doing your homework” and having complete field awareness and a safe operating environment.
The PEAK perspective on EPI’s Demo Day by Ken Nieuwenhuis
As the owner of an environmental consulting company since 1997, one of the lessons I learned early and that I reinforced when developing project managers, is “liability avoidance, liability avoidance, liability avoidance”. Why? Simply because the cost of not avoiding liability is asignificant, if not an existential threat to a company.
Liability is present in some form in almost every facet of the work environmental consultants do. However, it is most obvious and has the most immediate consequences when human health and safety risks overwhelm the obvious cost liabilities associated with accidently damaging subsurface utilities in the field.
It has been my experience, that even with mark-outs appropriately called in and property owners with substantial knowledge of their site the mark-out can be wrong or compromised, and property owners can have incomplete information regarding the location of subsurface utilities. Two vivid memories are a water line that was broken just feet from the blue mark-out on the curb line, completed just the day before a large snowfall was plowed over the curb and frozen in place, and a second water line struck ten feet below grade in a location cleared by the property owner as safe, only to have a site representative run out of the office with a “just found” utility map in hand as water gushed from the boring. [Neither of these were life threatening, but could just as easily have been. Both were repairable at a manageable cost to the company, but could have been crippling.]
Fortunately, the industry and remote sensing technology has matured significantly in the time Peak has been in existence, and recently we were fortunate to have EPI visit our new East Brunswick office and demonstrate their state of the art utility locating and clearing technologies for our staff.
It was a bit of a self-serving event, as I traded on my 25-year friendship with Tom Widmeier to have a marked-out gas line in the middle of our new outdoor lunch area daylighted for our landscape contractor. Tom and the EPI crew demonstrated ground penetrating radar (GPR), induced current utility tracing, and soft digging technologies. I commented to Tom after his team finished that we had recently called four public mark-outs in for this area; one for a temporary sign, one for a permanent sign, one for landscape construction and one for the soft-dig demo. None of those mark-outs identified the electric line or roof drainage running through the work area that his team did.
I have found that the cost of a focused utility identification and clearance event prior to, or concurrent with, an environmental investigation is money and time well spent for all parties involved, and is an easy recommendation to make to a client.
Peak employees benefitted from the demonstration and were able to ask direct questions to EPI crews. EPI benefits because we hope to persuade that our methods and procedures are both safe and efficient.
Peak benefits because they gain a better understanding of how and why we do our job, and this allows Peak’s environmental scientists to create a better, safer, and more efficientproduct for their clients.
1. If you're interested in our Ground Penetrating Radar services, please visit us at https://www.epi-geophysics.com/. and 2, if you’re interested in having your employees receive the above safety information and Spotlighting your company in a future EPI newsletter please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.