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.

 

Putting the Terrain Back Together in the Aftermath of a Forest Fire

Forest fires are a shocking, newsworthy event. There’s no real telling when and where they’ll happen, but when they do, news teams will be there, and eyes will be on the goings on from the start of the fight to put the blaze at bay until the bitter end. The images will show up on screens and in print in homes nationwide (and – if big enough) worldwide.

Here’s the thing though, what happens after the fire is out? We never really hear about that, right? The truth of the matter is, just because the fire is out, doesn’t mean things are “back to normal” and remediation efforts have ceased.

Forest fires create serious risks to the environment. So, the next wave of work after the actual flames have subsided is working to protect the ecological environment that surrounds the area.

Where are we going with this? We’re glad you asked…

What are we/you doing to prevent erosion after a forest fire has ripped through?

Well, the first question that might stem from that question is, ‘what happens when rains create erosion after a fire has reaped havoc on an unsuspecting plot of land?’

Following a forest fire catastrophe, the loss of undergrowth, leaf litter, forest floor hummus (organic matter), ground cover, is brined away leaving the forest floor stripped of all of its natural protection and very susceptible to erosion via such forces as:

  • Dramatic physical soil characteristics
  • Rain / running water
  • Wind
  • Gravity

Surface erosion begins as the fire is actually burning due to flammable substrate that, in short, goes up in a cloud of smoke… It continues from there when the terrain experiences its first bout of rain following the fire. Runoff from rain and/or any source of surrounding running water will result in increased runoff due to the very bare nature of the environment that has lost its natural “covering” as a result of a fire. The loss of surrounding vegetation which would generally intercept rainfall naturally, is a cause for erosion concern as is the very nature of the restricted charred soil that lends itself to a change in soil porosity which would have normally given water a place to find its way into. Thus, with no vegetation and little or no absorption of water flow, the runoff causes erosive action along the way. Additionally, all of the ash that is left after the fire passes also gets carried downhill to the low points where the wetlands, streams and rivers are. The ash and sediment in the runoff damage the aquatic ecosystem.

What does this all mean?

The soil / terrain of land that has been compromised needs to be addressed to ensure that erosion is kept to a minimum. The achieve this you must first check the soil for hydrophobicity – which occurs when vegetative materials combust, creating a gas that penetrates the soil, and, as it cools, said gas condenses and forms a waxy coating, which causes the soil to repel the water, making for greater and stronger erosive runoff. Hydrophobicity also reduces the rate of germination in reseeded areas which makes it difficult to not only create new plant life, but jeopardizes existing root colonies the ability to retain moisture and regenerate.

Where do we go from here?

After testing for hydrophobicity (which is essential to experience the successful seed germination required in cultivating new vegetation life), Global Environmental Solutions is your call to “put the place back together.” Our products have been employed to bring forests and other fire damaged properties back to life and prevent further erosive damages.

With the use of our CompoMulch™ product – a custom blended hydro-mulch that contains 25% sterilized compost mixed with special blend of vegetable fiber – you’ve armed yourself with a forward thinking solution that will “surround” terrain and soil preparation as it pertains to hydroseeding and planting needs. While similar products exist in the market, our dutifully prepared “solution” combines two critical preparation standards in vegetation development. When applied using DirtGlue® polymer as the tackifier, it will hold even in the toughest conditions, protecting against heavy rain and wind.

Benefits of using CompoMulch™ and DirtGlue polymer as a hydroseed/hydromulch system:

  • Reduces water usage and helps retain available moisture
  • Reduces erosion and the effects of erosion
  • Improved plant growth
  • Binds soil, seed and mulch mediums
  • Fully biodegradable (organic in fact…)
  • Prevents washouts even in the severest weather

Smokey the Bear may not be entirely accurate when he says, “only you can prevent forest fires,” but, what is a guarantee is you can take the right (best) step in putting the pieces back together in the event of an accident. We can help. And, we’re more than happy to.

GES: For the earth, with the earth in mind.

Safe? Striking out dust on the ball field

We’re in the thick of baseball season. Parents are spending all their “free” weekend time at the ballfield, or carting their kids and their friends off to the next ballfield. It’s one of the traditions Americans have come to love as spring turns to summer and the sun shines down upon the diamond in all its glory.

While you’re sitting there in the stands cheering your excitable player on, have you ever wondered why they’re outfitted for a facemask to protect them from the ball but not a facemask (respirator) that protects them dust that gets kicked up with every fleeting step?

That may seem like a joke, but be assured, we’re not joking at all…

Fact is, the soil on the ballfield and the dust it emits can be likened to the dust that floats around on a construction site. Guess what they’re wearing? Yep. Masks.

“What?!”

It’s true.

That dust little Bobby is breathing into his lungs after sliding into second base is full of crystalline silica. And while Bobby stole the base safely, that kicked up dust is unsafe and sneakily stealing Bobby’s health one microbe at a time.

What is Crystalline silica?

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.

Further: Pm2.5 and pm10 sized crystalline silica particles lodge deep into lung tissue and stay embedded in your lungs for your entire life… Those numbers may not mean anything to you. In short, they’re quite smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Basically microscopic. When kicked up on the field, these particles can remain airborne for a solid 24-hours.

 

Don’t just take our word for it.

This is a studied matter. In fact, major organizations that have confirmed the warning of hazardous crystalline silica dangers include:

 

  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • American Lung Association (ALA)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

 

So, if it’s known, why isn’t being addressed?

In short. Change is hard. It takes an investment – of money, and time. That said, isn’t your child’s health reason enough to ask the organization your affiliated with some questions? It’s not an easy subject. By-and-large, dust is ignored and “just there.” That said, remember in the 60s and 70s when you could smoke on a plane? Or up until even more recently, in a restaurant? Remember when asbestos and lead paint were used in ALL the houses constructed across the country at that time?

 

Here’s the skinny:

The dust and health deterring particles your young player inhales can be easily prevented. In fact, it’s 100% preventable.

A common way some groundcrews keep dust at bay is by watering the soil of the diamond (STRIKE one). The problem is, watering only lasts so long before the sun dries it out – oftentimes before a game culminates, thus knocking us right back to square one (STRIKE two). The flipside of that coin is that, if you use too much water, you’re bound to start creating mud, which will inevitably lead to tracking, clumping, caking, and other issues that can spread throughout the ballpark (STRIKE three).

Enter Global Environmental Solutions. We’ve spent a great deal of time creating better, smarter, and safer ballfields for our kids, friends, and families across the nation. How do we do it? That would come in the form of our Dustless® product, which we rolled out back in 2002. Dustless® is a long lasting non-toxic, non-hazardous liquid that absorbs into particles and prevents them from becoming airborne. Sun does not dry it out and rain cannot wash it from the dirt. The only reason Dustless® needs to be re­applied is if it is covered over with new material or buried deep by due to the tilling of the terrain. The lifespan of Dustless® can last as long as several seasons with a single application depending on environmental variables (of which, we be quite happy to discuss).

 

What have we learned?

Dust is not just dust. As it applies to the baseball diamond, dust is a real health hazard that is preventable if we choose to recognize it for what it really is. It’s not up to the players to control it, it’s up to the towns, leagues, parents, coaches and umpires to protect the players and ensure the fields are free from hazards before, during, and after play. It’s not hard to get control, and it’s even easier to keep control once you’ve established it. Baseball and all it represents is supposed to be fun. It’s “America’s favorite pastime.” Let’s keep on enjoying its rich tradition, and expand upon the safety of our baseball facilities. Together we can create lasting memories while bringing safer facilities to fruition. We can achieve this. All it takes is a single swing and we can knock it out of the park. Give GES a shout today, and take us out to the ballgame. We’ll root for the home team and quickly get to the root of dusty field conditions…

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.