On March 15th, 2019, Puerto Rico's Professional College of Chemists celebrated their Annual Spring Conference. A concurrent section dedicated to Solid Waste Management on the island was prepared, where agency representatives as well as representatives from the consulting sector presented their version of Puerto Rico's waste management situation.
Among the speakers, Mr. Fernando L. Rodríguez, PE, President of our company as well as of the SWANA Caribbean-PR Chapter, presented an educated third-party perspective on the Solid Waste Industry. Among other important topics, such as Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR), the session provided the audience well-rounded perspectives on the issues our island is currently facing.
The main focus of Mr. Rodríguez was not only to continue educating and promoting an Integrated Solid Waste Management System-type of decision-making but also to contrast the so-called "waste management crisis" as it stood prior and after the 2017 Hurricane Season.
Conclusions he presented to the audience involved the call to move to truly promoting waste reduction as well as the following actions as part of a post landfill-era. Actions such as:
The IEMES, PSC (CHES) team experienced the rippling effect from the weather systems that developed in the Caribbean Region last year’s hurricane season. Aside from the necessary business shut down with very limited communication with our team and clients for a couple of weeks, the team experienced external logistical frustrations as our clients begun requesting a wide variety of services needed to attend the aftermath of the hurricanes.
At the time, our lead project engineers, Carmen and Hanna, had help from three (3) amazing ladies that exposed their maturity and professional side in the worst of times. Aurimar Rodríguez (as accountant, administrator & part-time field worker), Natalia Marrero and Rebeca Cintrón (both as Environmental Engineering Interns at the time) were essential to starting up and maintain our services after the hardest hit to our island, Hurricane Maria, came through.
The administrative team was able to accomodate amenities for them to begin working as promptly as possible by initially equipping an external facility used as an office and storage, located closer to their residences; and, to the best of our ability, providing meals and other provisions throughout the day and for them to take back home. It was all possible thanks to a strong team effort strengthened by each of the members’ enviable psychological health and strength, as well as good safety culture, sincere trust, and respect.
Some examples of services provided during this period include:
On behalf of the administrative team, we appreciate our client’s patience during this time but most of all, their trust in our presence and quality of services.
Lastly, but not less important, our sincere appreciation to the team members that pulled through during those difficult months, regardless of their personal complications and responsibilities. Our office continues to provide the quality services our clients deserves to this day thanks to your professional contribution.
On August 11th, 2018, the Psychology Association of PR (PAPR) held their Second Career Development Congress attended by Hanna Rodríguez, PE, SC. A number of insightful presentations and workshops were provided by Psychologists, Counselors, Authors, and more.
The expertise in your area of study will not necessarily give you job security or be conclusive about your professional life. It is not enough to have diplomas; it is necessary to know how to communicate in order to advance professionally.
Presenters provided innovative ways of thinking, debating, communicating, and publishing. All by providing real and current examples such as the publication of books like Aceptad@ an inspiring paperback by Dr. Nelissa Domínguez who, as a working professional in her field, is able to provide students with a pathway towards their future in higher education.
s part of a workshop on discovering and developing new opportunities in the psychology field, Dr. Zahira González (Past President of PAPR), participants used the worksheet below to brainstorm about solutions to a particular problem or opportunity. In the case of Ms. Rodríguez along with psychology students (Karla M. Torres and Yiriann Ayala), resolved upon the importance of creating dedicated Communications, Education and Marketing Programs along with Recycling or Waste Management Plans within organizations to improve their effectiveness.
This was perceived and received by participants in this Congress as an opportunity to continue evaluating this topic in an interdisciplinary way. The IEMES, PSC staff is eager to see this topic be discussed in such a way and is available for any partnership opportunity to do so.
As a continuation of the Hurricane Disaster Infrastructure Resilience and Planning Workshop carried out by American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) through a grant program from the United Engineering Foundation (UEF), Eng. Hanna Rodríguez from the IEMES, PSC team was invited and participated as a speaker last July 25-26, 2018. Eng. Carmen M. Figueroa from IEMES, PSC participated in the first workshop in Houston Texas in March of this year; follow this link to read more about her experience.
For this second workshop, Eng. Rodríguez was part of a group of professionals, primarily engineers with the goal of finalizing details for a white paper and framework documents to be available to the engineering community on resiliency. Different engineering disciplines and related professions will be able to utilize such framework as a guide for taking into consideration in resilient design going forth.
As also members and leaders of the PR Professional College of Engineers and Land Surveyors (CIAPR, per its Spanish acronym), Eng. Rodríguez and Ms. Ruth Lailany Trujillo Rodríguez, PLS, PPL were invited to speak on behalf of the island. LS Trujillo provided perspectives on the importance of geospatial knowledge of utilities and critical infrastructures, while Eng. Rodríguez provided an overview of the waste management industry in PR and the USVI, both before and after the 2017 Hurricane Season.
The group, a large part of which were academic engineering professionals, a series of proposed goals for the engineering community were developed and will be documented in the resulting reports. All goals were documented in addition to corresponding sets of progressive steps or tasks to achieve said resiliency goals. Important discussions regarding design of resilient infrastructure and the extent of an engineer's responsibility in developing a resilient community were part of this one and a half-day workshop.
This week the Resilient Puerto Rico Advisory Commission published its final reports with actionable and timely recommendations for the responsible use of recovery funds. This focused on rebuilding Puerto Rico in a resilient and sustainable manner; physically, economically, and socially.
All six (6) reports are available in English and Spanish on their website: http://www.resilientpuertorico.org.
Our very own Eng. Hanna Rodríguez, as current President of the Natural Disaster Management Assistance Commission of the PR Professional College of Engineers and Land Surveyors (CIAPR, per Spanish acronym) and International Board Representative of the SWANA Caribbean Chapter, took part in the Physical Infrastructure Working Group discussions. Her input led to the development of visionary goals that strive for an Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) system. The development or improvement of island-wide metrics will lead to better decision making and improvement of this industry, as discussed on the goal identified as A9 (see below and click images for the full document).
Our office staff will continue working on these missions locally both as environmental consultants as well as volunteers on diverse associations we're involved in and lead. We invite you to join us in this endeavor and to assist in sharing reports such as those prepared for "ReImagina Puerto Rico" with your colleagues.
Hanna Rodriguez, PE, SC from our team was invited to present at the 2018 SWANA Arkansas Chapter Annual Conference last April 4, 2018. A waste management summary prior to the 2017 Hurricane Season was provided to participants. Such summary included, legal background including regulatory provisions, landfill closure orders, and a general sense of stakeholders involved in setting forth a comprehensive and reliable Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) System.
Further, a glimpse at a risk analysis performed by Ms. Rodriguez and Ms. Carmen M. Figueroa-Santiago, PE, SC was provided. This analysis, finalized in August 2017, was based on the island’s waste management infrastructure as a key step in adaptation towards climate change resilience. A scientific approach described in the International Organization for Standardization’s document ISO 31000 Risk management – Principles and guidelines was adapted and used. Additionally, adjustments and base assumptions designed for the PR Climate Change Council (PRCCC) infrastructure evaluation sub-committee led by the Assistance in Natural Disaster Management Commission (“CAMDN”, per its Spanish acronym) of the PR Professional College of Engineers (“CIAPR”, per its Spanish acronym) were considered. This risk assessment provided an overview of crucial issues to be encountered in the future and were exalted by the 2017 Hurricane Season.
The 2017 Hurricane Season, highlighted by Hurricane Irma and Maria’s impact to Puerto Rico and the USVI, was an unusually active one. Summarizing first response efforts to ongoing debris management, Ms. Rodriguez provided a general third-party perspective. The impact these events have had and will continue to have on the industry must be perceived as opportunities to avoid prolonging landfill closures and implementation of alternatives focused complying with the waste management hierarchy.
Manifestations of climate change such as higher temperatures, altered rainfall patterns, and more frequent or intense extreme events are bearing an even heavier burden on our industry, in particular in the already struggling Caribbean islands. In conclusion to this presentation, Ms. Rodriguez reiterated the need to understand these impacts. It is widely known that solid waste management infrastructure is critical to maintain sanitary conditions, hence the importance of designing and maintaining systems and infrastructure resilient to climate change. To this point, our team looks forward to upcoming opportunities where our expertise is necessary for developing SMART goals, as well as resilient and sustainable solutions for the island and the Caribbean Region.
A very special and personal appreciation to Mrs. Wendy Bland, current Director at Benton County Solid Waste District and International Board Representative of the SWANA Arkansas Chapter, for the introduction. Finally, to the generous SWANA Chapter Board for their invitation and interest in the topics presented and the Caribbean Region´s well-being.
by Carmen M. Figueroa, SC, PE
During March 20-21, 2018, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), held the Hurricane Disaster Infrastructure Resilience and Planning Workshop in Houston, TX, through a grant program from the United Engineering Foundation (UEF). The multidisciplinary workshop, the first of two similar events, was attended by several engineering societies, academics, professionals in the private practice, as well as industrial and public entities, all experts in disaster relief and resiliency. Representing IEMES, PSC, Eng. Carmen M. Figueroa was invited and participate providing input from her professional experience during the response and recovery period to date, after hurricanes Irma and María in Puerto Rico last September 2017.
The workshop focused on identifying priority issues that engineers could address to mitigate and prevent significant hurricane damages in the future. This by stressing the need to strategically prepare for and rebuild disaster susceptible areas affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Among the many issues discussed during the two-days forum, infrastructure specialists debated on matters that impacted preparedness and response after these storm events. The group identified the lack of investment in planning and preparedness for managing industrial resilience, lack of emergency planning for worst case scenarios, and the need to understand infrastructure systems, its boundaries and how they affect, as essential key issues that must be addressed promptly.
What should be done then? Focus on reducing impacts through infrastructure resiliency, improve response capability by involving intergovernmental and cross-sector policies to reduce implementation challenges, and promoting the use of science and engineering expertise.
We at IEMES, PSC are looking forward to attending the following workshop to be held by the end of Summer 2018. Moreover, we recognize the need and our interest in incorporating additional Puerto Rico professional and experts’ representation to this event or initiative. Our team is more than welcome to work with AIChE and UEF as local liaison for potential future events.
One of the USEPA's online platforms for 2015 MSGP compliance, NeT-MSGP, has undergone a change in the past days. This change is based on a software transition to a new version which is not complete.
As a reminder, this is the platform where Notice of Intents and Annual Reports are submitted; Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) are not affected as they're submitted via the NetDMR platform.
As this new software is phased in, the only action available via NeT-MSGP is the submission of a new Notice of Intent (NOI). The following electronic forms will be unavailable for submission via the electronic system:
Our office team will be contacting affected clients in the coming weeks to ensure additional necessary steps are performed in each of your accounts to keep them relevant.
For more information, a fact sheet was published by the USEPA and is available in the following link: https://epanet.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000887708-MSGP-Transition-Fact-Sheet-on-What-to-Expect-.
Employers must submit Injury and Illness Records prior to July 1, 2018. There are three (3) alternatives to submitting such report:
As a friendly reminder, if your facility unfortunately closed due to the hurricane events, you are still required to submit as it is considered to have operated passed the 2017 submission deadline.
For more information, you may contact our office or the PR Occupational Safety & Health Administration (PROSHA) at 787-754-2172.
Additional information on electronic submission: https://www.osha.gov/injuryreporting/
Fernando L. Rodríguez, PE, SC