Creating Safer Mining Environments

According to the CDC (as of 2017), there are 13,080 active mines throughout the United States. Of those, 541 are registered underground mining operations and 12,539 are registered surface mining operations. This number does not include mines that are sitting dormant.

That’s a lot of mines, and a lot of active mining operations with countless moving pieces and parts that include machinery and human assets. Thirty-nine billion tons of material are extract from the planets crust each year. That is a vast quantity earth that is in play and actively being strewn about in more ways than one. With that poses potential hazardous issues to:

  • People
  • Equipment
  • Environment (from the soil to the air and everything in between)

So the obvious first question is, what are we doing to combat potential hazards as a byproduct of this mining activity? It’s not a common question, but it is if you’re in that line of work. And, quite frankly, the answer isn’t easy. It’s not always easy to know how things will “pan out,” so planning and preparing needs to come from a commodity that things on multiple levels. Enter Global Environmental Solutions…

The long and short of it is this: Not every mine problem can be solved with GES products but tailings dam stabilization, erosion control, stockpile capping, dust and sediment control, and coal bunker sealing can go a long way towards preventing problems.

Why is a proactive approach to “stabilizing” your mining operations inherent to a project’s success? Well, consider the incident that happened in Brazil earlier in the year.

The headline:

“Brazil dam collapse leaves at least seven dead and 200 missing”

The meat of the story:

“A dam that held back mining waste collapsed in Brazil, inundating a nearby community in reddish-brown sludge, killing at least seven people and leaving scores of others missing.

Parts of the city of Brumadinho were evacuated, and firefighters rescued people by helicopter and ground vehicles.

Considered the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history, it left 250,000 people without drinking water and killed thousands of fish. An estimated 60 million cubic meters of waste flooded rivers and eventually flowed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Environmental groups and activists said the latest spill underscored a lack of regulation.”

Another sad fact is that, for Vale (the mining company responsible for the mess), this wasn’t the first time. Following the catastrophe, Vale was saddled with billions of dollars in fines and other associated expenses. All of which could have been largely avoided.

How can we help?

Let’s outline the main (aforementioned) points here…

Tailings dam stabilization – Tailings are the leftover byproducts stemming from mining and extracting resources, such as removing the bitumen from oilsands, or minerals such as copper, silver or gold from ores. Tailings include:

  • Finely ground rock particles, which range in proportions from sand-sized to silt-sized particles.
  • The harmful chemicals that are actively used to extract the valuable mineral or oil.
  • And, quite simply, water.

The underlying issue with this “residue” of sorts is that the rock particles and other potentially intrusive chemicals may undergo post-process chemical reactions during storage that can generate additional byproducts – which, to a large degree, are harmful to the environment – such as acid and other dissolved metals that can easily leach into waterways and destroy fragile ecosystems in the surrounding area (which, in bad cases, can spread further). These reactions happen unusually quickly in tailings because small particles have a very high surface area where reactions can take place, compared to bigger particles.

As we’ve alluded to, many substances found in tailings can be toxic.

Applications are including but not limited to:

  • Surface stabilization with spray applications of polymer
  • Revegetation using CompoMulch and DirtGlue polymer tackifier
  • Geotextile retaining walls
  • Hard surface applications
  • Dust control for pond surfaces once they dry out
  • And much more…

Erosion control

Soil erosion and embankment control is a problem for mining operations when trying to shore up the landscape surrounding the blast site, and the site in general that is subject to runoff from a storm, general rain, or seasonal change. Soil and embankment erosion control challenges are either met at the outset of a site plan, or they’re tackled as issues pops up organically.

Common solutions you’re likely to find at a mining site include:

  • Terraces / walls built of varying materials
  • Geosynthetics such as mats, grids, and cells
  • Pipeline / tunneling
  • Gravel

If you’re looking for a smarter, harder working solution, consider GES products such as our tried and true DirtGlue® polymer, which will penetrate the surface by binding with the soil to form a tough, durable, three-dimensional matrix layer of protection. Combining superior film strength and adhesive properties, DirtGlue® polymer is the ideal solution for dust control in non-traffic areas, stockpile capping and stabilizing slopes and embankments. When applied using DirtGlue® polymer as the tackifier, it will hold even in the toughest conditions, protecting against heavy rain and wind.

Stockpile capping

Uncovered stockpiles that take residence in and around mining sites can create a host of concerns. Without the proper protection, or “capping” they become subject to erosion by wind and water and can contribute to the pollution of surrounding areas as sediment laden run-off spills into roads, waterways, storm drains, or potentially even protected wetlands or other sensitive, protected areas.

Rather than taking the traditional means of capping stockpiles with a tarp, consider DirtGlue® polymer emulsion.

Benefits of DirtGlue® polymer emulsion include:

  • Fast installation/application with less fuss than having to fasten down tarps
  • Much lower cost
  • More effective, complete & seamless seal
  • Not damaged by weather
  • Longer lasting stockpile protection
  • More effective control of dust, sediment and TSS
  • Environmentally friendly solution
    • Meets National Pollution Discharge Elimination System requirements for
      erosion control
    • Meets the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements for reducing
      particulate matter in the air
    • Classed non-hazardous by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration definition

Our unique formula will penetrate, saturate, and bond soil particles, creating a hard, dust-free, and water-resistant crust for lasting protection. DirtGlue® polymer is non-hazardous, water-based, contains no VOCs, and is non-corrosive, providing a solution to capping stockpiles that is highly effective and environmentally friendly.

Dust and sediment control

It’s no secret that dust and sediment run rampant in mining facilities. It’s “the nature of the beast,” to put it bluntly.

At the core of the issue, the idea is to keep the earth in place and not give it too much of a chance to whip around and wind up stuck in filters, lungs, and as a pesky top sheet to everything in its general radius. Outside of that, there are other materials that can be picked up and distributed through these wisps of dust that can compromise the wellbeing of the environment and health of life that is exposed to it.

Dust from a mining site can contain materials such as:

  • Heavy metals
  • Silica
  • Asbestos
  • Mold
  • Bacteria
  • Pollen

Common means of tackling dust include:

  • Watering the area
  • Using dust retardant products
  • Spreading gravel, hay, mulch, or grass to act as a barrier
  • Restricting movement in affected area

The best option would be to employ the benefits of one of our award winning DirtGlue® solutions to combat the issue and, for all intents and purposes, remediate the problem long-term. For extreme cases like a working mining operation, we’ve got our DustLess® solution that will take complete control.

DustLess® is an organic fluid typically used in high-traffic areas as a solution for extreme dust. It is an environmentally safe dust suppressant that eliminates the need to water, and does not dry out. Clear and odorless, DustLess® is highly refined, and proven to be non-toxic to humans, animals, marine life and plants.

Coal bunker sealing

DirtGlue polymer stockpile capping and sealing is the antidote to the oxidation and moisture that leads to spontaneous combustion in coal bunkers. Keeping coal bunkers sealed mandates an effective, reliable air-blocking system. Sealing coal bunkers is, of course, more necessity than choice. Air circulating through the coal bunkers is a precursor to spontaneous combustion, a serious danger to a power plant, its employees, and the value of the stored coal itself. The spraying of DirtGlue polymer on stockpiles or bunkers causes the formation of a thin crust much like a spray-on tarp to act as a seal against water and air. This protective seal helps prevent fire, dust, erosion and loss of BTU’s.

Benefits:

  • Eliminate air and water penetration
  • Control dust through encapsulation
  • Minimize oxidation to prevent spontaneous combustion
  • Prevent costly coal bunker fires
  • Slow coal deterioration and water absorption that can reduce BTU value
  • Get the desired results without the higher cost of nitrogen injections

Further, when it comes to the transport of mined coal we can help with transportation efforts of the resource, as statistics show that a typical 3-5% loss of coal is experienced during transport from the mine. This can be avoided by “capping” the train or truck hopper hauling the load with one of our environmentally friendly spray-on solutions.

Are you in the mining industry and looking for ways to maximize safety, minimize environmental impact, all while simultaneously increasing profits on an extracted haul? Contact us today and let’s work together to come up with the customized solution to best fit your unique situation.

 

Dealing with Construction Caused Dust Properly

As we enter the warmer months the sight (and sound!) of construction vehicles will reach its annual peak. Construction projects are in abundance – around the house, around the office, around town, and on roads and pathways connecting all of the above…

So what does this have to do with Global Environmental Solutions?

Everything really.

With construction – regardless of what type – comes disturbance of the soil and the environmental issues that this creates. With that disturbance comes the inevitability of dust. This dust creates major issues because it not only affects the ecosystem, but is a major health hazard to those working the construction site and to those people residing in the surrounding area as well. The workers are, for all intents and purposes, at “ground zero” when it comes to dust and the risks that airborne particulate matter poses.

For environmentalists and health agencies this dust is measured as PM10 and PM2.5 which means particulate matter 10 microns and 2.5 microns respectively.   To provide ideas as to the danger PM10 is small enough that when it enters the lungs it does not leave (it can’t be exhaled or coughed up so it is accumulative). PM2.5 is so small that it can pass through cell walls wreaking havoc throughout the body of all airbreathing creatures including humans!

Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other minerals. Quartz is the most common form of crystalline silica. Crystalline silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Additionally, breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal. The respirable silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen.

PM10 & PM2.5 compared to a human hair and a particle of beach sand:

GES Products protect your site’s soil from dust, sediment, erosion, etc

There’s no shortage of studies that outline the dangers of dust pertaining to construction sites. Uncontrolled airborne particles can cause:

  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Silicosis
  • Non-asbestos related cancers
  • Death

That last one is extreme (obviously,) but, that said (and sad to say), it’s true.

The very nature of construction activity is the impetus behind the production of potentially harmful dust. Processes such as sanding, sweeping, hammering, mining, blasting, traffic, transport, and actions of the like are cause for putting many a particle into the air.

How do we combat construction site dust emissions?

Many construction companies combat dust in the air by bringing in a water truck to keep the soil and mineral aggregate “at bay” during the times of laborious activity. The thinking here is to water down the soil which in turn will work to reduce the amount of dust entering the atmosphere. This isn’t untrue, but it’s not a particularly sound practice. Water dries out. In the warmer months, this happens quickly. Thus, water needs to be continuously reapplied which can be costly from myriad vantage points.

The better solution is contracting unique construction site needs to Global Environmental Solutions and our DirtGlue® line of soil treatment products.

DirtGlue® polymer emulsion is a powerful, high-tech soil stabilization bonding agent specifically engineered to bond soil particles together. A non-hazardous product, DirtGlue® polymer contains no harmful chemicals, will not adversely affect people, animals or aquatic life.

DirtGlue® polymer penetrates the surface binding with the soil to form a tough, durable, three-dimensional matrix layer of protection and soil stabilization.

As we’re sure you know if you’re looking into dust suppression solutions for the jobsite, there are a number of moving pieces and parts when it comes to construction projects. From the environmental terrain a foundation is built on, to the access point of a driveway, to the challenges associated with mining and hauling in and around the jobsite – it can seem endless. Global Environmental has many different solutions that can easily help with many facets of construction projects.

Full list of products for consideration:

And, as always, we’re here if you have any questions at all as is it pertains to your needs. We rest at nothing to make worksite environments more manageable and a safer place to be spending most of your waking hours.

The DirtGlue® suite of products work hard to hold the earth in place. Keeping you, your employees, and your customers safer and healthier across the board.

Our Most Valuable Resource is the SOIL

How are you protecting your property’s soil? Or rather, what’s the value in thinking about how to protect your property’s soil?

Let’s start with a quote:

“Essentially, all life depends upon the soil… There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” – Dr. Charles Kellogg, Soil Scientist & Chief of Bureau for Chemistry & Soils at USDA

What is the importance of healthy soil? Let us count the ways:

1. Soil is the base of healthful plant growth. Keeping the soil in place around the property is imperative due – at the root level – to the maintenance of both the natural and planted landscape and how it serves the function of healthy terrain. Healthy soil literally supports the forests, wetlands, jungles, prairies and grasslands that aide in your land, and the planet’s amazing vegetative biodiversity. It may seem elementary, but we’ll point it out anyway… Plants provide food, fuel, animal feed, medicine, and raw materials for clothing, household goods and other life essentials.

2. Plants in turn help prevent soil erosion. This feeds into the sentiment included in the last entry. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants, and healthy plants lead to a healthy, strong landscape. You want to keep your soil in place because it is the base of literally everything on your property. It’s not just a matter of keeping your garden from washing out. It’s a matter of keeping the integrity of any buildings on the property in optimal operative capacity as well. If the soil moves, your foundation can move. If your foundation moves, look out!

3. Erosion is the loss of soil from wind or water. So that erosion often stems from a large influx of water. Soil is imperative in working as a conduit of providing available water in appropriate quantities to sustain life. Soil and the vegetation it supports, as we’ve outlined above, catch and distribute rainwater and play an important role in the water cycle and supply. Soil distribution at the core can impact rivers, lakes, and streams; changing their shape, size, capacity and direction – which ultimately effects the properties that they run through or abut.

4. Controlling pollution is necessary. Quality soil can help. Generally speaking water absorption and filtration properties of soil play are imperative in reducing pollution from chemicals in pesticides and other compounds that jeopardize surrounding ecological environments.

5. Soil provides both the foundation and base materials for buildings, roads and other built infrastructure. Please, read on…

This is where Global Environmental Solutions comes into play. We literally started the business based on our desire to spend our days playing with soil and figuring out ways to best manage it with quality and the utmost care.

When it comes to soil – your most valuable asset – and taking care of it so that it can best serve your property, the biggest challenge of protecting your site’s soil is physically keeping it onsite.

GES provides solutions against soil loss.

The tagline of our key product DirtGlue is, “holding the earth together.” This is quite literally what we do. Keeping your soil in place can be accomplished by using an assortment of GES products (such as DirtGlue® polymer and DustLess®) to prevent wind and water erosion [sediment, and dust]. We’re not your typical suppressant solution (hello water) that you continuously need to reapply to keep your environment strong and healthy – we’ve worked up solutions that are tried and true and derived from environmentally benign compounds that best serve the environment while keeping your valuable soil in place. The applications we provide are solutions that target the issues that pertain to your own unique project/environment.

In short, GES Products protect your site’s soil from:

• Dust (your soil is too dry/arid and is getting swept away by wind and/or traffic, etc.)
• Sediment (your soil is victim to outside sources in the surrounding environment infiltrating your soil’s integrity)
• Erosion (your soil is too wet, subject to rain events and runoff, the environmental stimuli which are washing it away)
• And more

How do each of these things impact the surrounding environment?

Dust can be hazardous to the health of vegetation, human life, and ecosystems at large. It can cut down on the integrity of “sound” structure and landscaping and also cause visibility issues depending on what the site’s application is. Dust is more than just a nuisance, dust is a known killer. It’s best to keep it in place, or stop it from being a thing at all.

Sediment can clog drainage structures which leads to erosion, corrosion, mold, rot, etc. You don’t want any of this. It can also effect surrounding vegetation and the proper development of plants, as well as causing detriment to surrounding waterways and aquatic life. It’s not always easy to pinpoint, but it’s easier to control when managed.

Erosion literally washes the soil away and can damage property values and the integrity of the surrounding environment. Erosion can lead to dust, and sediment as addressed above. Once it starts, it’s hard to combat, so it’s important to consider it from the design phase of a project and utilizing remedial effort ideas as a means of addressing the “what ifs” of mother nature, surrounding environmental stimulus/factors, etc.

Let’s get back to Dr. Kellogg’s quote for a moment. Let’s look at the opening: “Essentially, all life depends upon the soil…” We take it to heart. And you should too. Life depends on the soil. Think about it. Think about where you are right now. Think about the structure you’re residing in at this very moment. Think about the path you took to get there. Think about the earth and the role we all play in helping it work best for us – and itself.

Global Environmental Solutions: For the earth, with the earth in mind.

Soil Erosion

GES Graphic

Soil erosion caused by construction activities is becoming an increasingly critical issue affecting the health of our environment. According to a scholarly article published by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the potential for significant erosion on heavily disturbed construction sites is up to 100 times greater than on agricultural land. The impacts on the environment from this level of soil erosion are profound. As the research article states, “Unless adequate measures are taken to prevent this abnormal, highly accelerated soil removal, it becomes the most visible and damaging factor in the deterioration of soil quality and the environmental quality of urban areas.”

A reading of this article yields the following synopsis:

When large tracts of land are eroded, massive amounts of sediment wreak havoc on the surrounding environment. This sediment builds up in crucial drainage areas. When this occurs, the flow capacity of the drainage system is reduced and flooding results. In urban areas, the loss of proper drainage means that excess water enters sewer systems, putting huge strain on the infrastructure of these systems. As water builds up in places that it was not designed to be, damage occurs to buildings and structures. Roads become swamped and traffic issues are exacerbated.

These sediment flows have an equally (if not worse) impact on the surrounding natural environment. Excess sediment causes natural waterways to become turbid. Turbidity blocks necessary sunlight from penetrating through the water to provide the energy needed for underwater vegetation to engage in photosynthesis. As plants get choked out, many marine species lose precious habitat. Oxygen levels are also reduced, making life more difficult for fish and marine life. Excess nutrients from top soil being washed into these areas results in eutrophication, a condition in which excess phosphorus and nitrogen create harmful blooms of unwanted biological growth.

At a financial level, excess soil erosion costs taxpayers millions, as costs of removing soil from roads, drainage systems, and culverts mound up. There are also large costs involved with damage from flooding.

The paper concludes with the following statement:

“The effects of erosion on construction sites continue to menace society both from on-site and off-site damages. Preventing soil-related problems before they occur is easier and more cost effective than correcting them later. Communities need to work with developers, contractors, and local governments to limit compaction and soil loss during construction operations.”

This article really hit home with us here at Global Environmental Solutions. We are deeply committed to help these environmental catastrophes through our work developing ground-breaking solutions to the issue of soil erosion. If you want to learn more about how our specifically engineered DirtGlue® polymer works to bond soil particles together to prevent soil erosion, please take a look at this article for more helpful information.

If we are to prevent more significant damage to our urban environments, our natural environments, and our municipal and federal budgets, we need to do more to control soil erosion. We are proud to say that we are working hard here at Global Environmental Solutions to inform and advocate on this important issue.

If you have questions on how our environmentally-sustaining products can work to help you protect the areas in which you live and/or work, feel free to reach out today.

Creating Pathways That Last

Equestrian Dust Control

Creating Pathways That Last (Part One of Two)

So You Want or Need a Pathway.

First question: What are your goals?

There are likely multiple. We understand.

At the root level the three most common goals we hear about are:

  • Functionality – controlled terrain
  • Aesthetically appealing
  • Constructed to last

 

What makes up various pathway types and what are the common issues?

Natural pathways come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The first thing to consider is the traffic placed upon the pathway. A very crowded botanical garden path or a maintenance vehicle access road will require different support than a lightly used foot trail. A pathway – in engineering terms – must be designed to provide the correct amount of load bearing as well as shear strength to support the traffic placed upon the surface (be sure to consider the frequency of this traffic as well). This load bearing and shear strength requirement can be met naturally using the structure of the aggregate or with chemicals and geosynthetics. Soil particle structure, depth and slope of the pathway surface, natural makeup or man-made construction of the base layer, and strength of the soil’s natural binding can all increase load bearing and shear strength. When these elements are incorrect in a pathway the result can yield:

  • Reduced longevity
  • Rutting
  • Erosion from traffic
  • Dust
  • Reduced accessibility for users

Common questions:

What is or what will the pathway be made of? Examples:

  • Decomposed granite
  • Crushed stone
  • Gravel
  • Sand (easy now…)

How high is the load bearing and shear strength of the pathway?

This is an incredibly important aspect as it pertains to erosion and how to combat it before it becomes an issue.

Speaking of erosion…

 

What does weather do to the pathway?

Natural pathways can be appealing. Porosity of natural materials allow water to percolate down into the soil. This can allow the path to manage some storm water and also keeps the surface cooler, reducing the heat island effect. The type of aggregate and slope of the pathway’s surface layer, will affect how the path responds to water. When these elements are incorrect the result will be reduced longevity due to rain creating:

  • Rutting
  • Erosion
  • Mud
  • Washout

 

Plan on routine maintenance.

All natural materials will develop loose surface rock particles which is part of the natural look. It reminds users that the path is not concrete or asphalt. Many natural materials can appear to be very stable after the initial installation, but will continually produce greater amounts of loose rock ever more quickly due to weather/aging. If there is too much loose rock, this will create much more maintenance and result in a renovation too quickly. If clay the pathway will be muddy during wet seasons and dusty during dry seasons.

That brings us to what the pathway is constructed of from the aggregate particle structure and soil engineering standpoint.

Materials such as decomposed granite, crushed granite, or other types of crushed stone are considered “soils/aggregates.” These aggregates contain soil particles such as sand, silt, and clay, along with gravel or rock elements. Soil particles are like the DNA of the pathway. They decide how your pathway will perform. Soil structure is the composition and arrangement of particles and pores; the open voids that occur between and within soil particles. If base and slope conditions are constructed properly, then soil structure will determine the load bearing and shear strength, or traffic resistance, of the pathway.

Clay is the only soil particle that has cohesion without water. Clay particles give cohesion for load bearing and shear strength, but when the concentration of clay particles becomes too high, or the moisture content becomes too high it will destabilize and become muddy. Sand and rock particles provide a more sound structure. The amount and size of rock particles, angularity, and hardness will change the load bearing strength of the pathway.

Regardless of the challenges that a pathway will pose, there’s are ways to make the makeup of the path and the environment around it manageable and built to last. Global Environmental Solutions has a couple of products in its environmentally friendly arsenal that will make any job easier – at the outset, or from the maintenance vantage points. Learn more about our DirtGlue® polymer, our DGE Polymer Pavement System, and more. Stay tuned for our second installment of our pathway series which will dwell on evaluating your pathway construction and the substrate that makes it what it is, environmental challenges, and ADA compliance thoughts.

Until then, give us a shout to discuss any of your unique pathway projects and we’ll consult some solid ways to increase the performance, longevity, and quality of the area in question – from the planning phase, through existing pathways that are in need of a managerial “upgrade.” Reach out to GES today! We’re here to answer any and all of your questions and our products are for the earth, with the earth in mind!