Today Oceans 2003 talks to Michael Courouleau about strategies for an environmentally-friendly workplace.
Oceans 2003: Thanks so much for meeting with us today…
Michael Courouleau: It is my pleasure.
Oceans 2003: Isn’t the idea of 100% environmental compliance almost unattainable?
Michael Courouleau: Some would argue for all practical purposes, yes.
Oceans 2003: That doesn’t sound encouraging…
Michael Courouleau: Not necessarily, though. There isn’t a manufacturing industry that doesn’t pollute, even businesses you wouldn’t normally think of, like a fast-food restaurant or a dry cleaners. There will always be compounds and pollutants being released into the water, air and soil.
Oceans 2003: Then it’s a question of severity…
Michael Courouleau: Yes, and how to deal with the sources.
Oceans 2003: Aren’t there ways to clean that up and head it off?
Michael Courouleau: Yes, there are, and the technology for that kind of remediation continues to advance. But there are hurdles like loopholes in laws and regulations, enforcement structures and technology costs.
Oceans 2003: Well, what’s a good approach? A good strategy?
Michael Courouleau: The starting point should be an impartial assessment of what substances are toxic, and where they come along in the manufacturing process.
Oceans 2003: Then what?
Michael Courouleau: From there, it’s time to devise a work-around and determine if there are any other substitutes that could be used that have little or no environmental impact.
Oceans 2003: What’s the regulatory structure for industrial air pollution?
Michael Courouleau: Well, all roads lead back to the Federal Clean Air Act, with a subset of regulations that govern plants that produce pollutants with Maximum Achievable Control Technology in place. Then there are State Implementation Plans, which all have benchmarks that are derived from the FCAA.
Oceans 2003: Aren’t there several regulatory programs, though?
Michael Courouleau: Yes, there’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards, State Implementation Plans, New Source Performance Standards and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.
Oceans 2003: Have those been amended extensively?
Michael Courouleau: Yes, there have been amendments that have added 189 toxic pollutants to those standards.
Oceans 2003: What kinds of technologies are in play for stationary pollution sources?
Michael Courouleau: Wet gas scrubbers, CO boilers, electrostatic precipitators, multistage separators and catalyst additives are all pretty common.
Oceans 2003: I know that huge advances have been made in car emissions…
Michael Courouleau: Oh, absolutely.
Oceans 2003: What are some of the technologies that have turned that around?
Michael Courouleau: Things like electronic ignition, fuel systems, engine temperature controls, catalytic converters, variable valve timing and urea tanks have all gone a long way toward cutting vehicle emissions.
Oceans 2003: Getting away from air pollution and emissions, what are some other big-picture ways of drawing down pollution?
Michael Courouleau: The little things have a way of adding up. Things like reducing unnecessary packaging, using landfill methane gas, and using solar and wind power at the micro level all make a big difference in the long run.
Michael Courouleau is an environmental and safety professional with extensive experience in industrial safety.