Developing an Evacuation Plan – Hurricane Preparedness Week

Hurricane - Evacuation Plan - Hurricane Preparedness Week

Plan out where everyone and everything must go.


Historically, industry has been concentrated along or near waterways. As a result, many businesses handling hazardous materials as well as many brownfield sites are vulnerable to flooding. With hurricane season just around the corner, those with businesses or homes in flood and storm surge prone areas need to be very aware of their risks. Everyone must have a plan to evacuate safely when instructed to do so.

Safety of employees and others is a high priority, but a business owner may also benefit from planning a way to safely evacuate equipment or supplies from risky areas ahead of time. Telling people to safely head home is one thing, but getting heavy equipment relocated can be much more difficult. Planning the transportation of equipment and deciding where it will be securely stored is best determined well in advance. Five hours to landfall is not the time to decide how and where to move that expensive trailer. Think about your evacuation needs now and plan accordingly to save time, money and your business from more damage than need occur.


For more information on developing an evacuation plan or to see if your business or home resides in a storm surge prone area, check out NOAA’s Hurricane Preparedness Week site:


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Determine Your Risk – Hurricane Preparedness Week


Every business should be prepared.

As NOAA notes, hurricanes are not just a coastal hazard; inland flooding is a serious issue that can cause severe damage and is known to be the most common cause of hurricane-related deaths. Hurricanes, flooding, strong winds and resulting power outages can reach far inland and hit businesses that may not have anticipated being affected by the storm. For example, businesses have reported an increasing number of hazardous material and petroleum releases caused by hurricanes; about 3% of these occur in inland states with many more in inland areas of coastal states.


Increased Hurricane Activity - Determine Your Risk - Hurricane Preparedness Week


The good news is that it’s never been quicker or easier to evaluate your natural hazard risk. There are multiple resources out there that you can use to understand how a hurricane may affect your business:


  • FEMA flood maps are still the go-to source of flood hazard information. Plug in the address of your business, home or project site to get a good idea of historic flood risk.




  • On a more local level, there have been a number of efforts to create easy-to-use tools for evaluating flood hazards in the Northeast. There are mapping tools for New Jersey and Maryland that include data on flood, sea level rise and storm surge information as well as data on sea level rise in Delaware.




With so many resources available, the real danger for a causal user is getting overwhelmed and not using any of them. We encourage you to get on one of these easy-to-use websites now and get to know the potential natural hazard risks of your business or other places of interest.




For more on Hurricane Preparedness Week, visit:


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What Makes a Guidance Great


The environmental science and remediation industry is chock-full of guidance documents. Some are wonderful resources, while others are a colossal waste of time. Some pass rigorous peer review processes prior to publication, while others are written in a vacuum. Whether you are reviewing one, learning from one or getting ready to participate in the creation of one, there are important fundamental concepts to consider in what makes one great. Every great guidance document shares the following qualities:

  1. The audience and purpose are clear
  2. The significance is clear and concise
  3. There is a current “go to” resource
  4. There is wide range acceptance or concurrence

Team - Guidance document

Clear Intentions to Audience

A user of any guidance should know within the first couple pages, if not by title, if the guidance is intended for him/her and what the purpose is. Generally, there are three primary purposes of guidance:

  1. To Inform a general audience by compiling multiple ideas, publications and research work into one concise document
  2. To Standardize a set of practices to reduce inconsistent behavior between practitioners
  3. To Regulate the user by either providing clarity or expanding regulatory language or by being incorporated into law

As you can imagine, the three categories listed above are not listed by importance. Informational documents are somewhat flexible in their usage while those that are referenced by law are not.



The resources which go into developing guidance documents are sometimes astounding. I have estimated the costs of human time, travel, and resources on a key industry document for which I had a leadership role and my estimate was very near $900,000. I was probably low. With this amount of resources, the whole project should start with the conversation of significance. Then, make sure the concept stays throughout the document in a very concise manner. The significance is simply why the document is important and what problem it is trying to solve.


Current “Go To” Resource

Many of the great guidance documents have that one set of tables, charts, figures, appendices, or matrices that make it a great resource. You pick them back up knowing exactly where you are going to go in it. The bad ones you look at as 100 pages of words and just go “ugh”. The resource also must be current or the user must know if the material has the potential to be out of date.

Graph - Guidance Document
Relevant and useful figures make a big difference in the quality of a resource.



Acceptance of a guidance document comes in many forms. Many industry leaders use Standard Development Organizations (SDOs), such as ASTM or ANSI, as an avenue for publishing guidance due to their rigorous concurrence procedures, such as balanced voting. Concurrence may also come in far less formal and less timely methods. For example, a guidance may be written by a state agency or small work group and become accepted industry wide simply based on use and word of mouth. This form of concurrence may take months or years following publication. An example may be a new, innovative but controversial guidance that takes years to “catch on.”


Take Home Message

Understanding the criteria listed above will help any user understand the applicability of an industry guidance document. More importantly, if starting one, this list provides a good starting point from which to base future discussions.


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FG Exam: What Should I Focus On?

These dreaded Fundamentals of Geology (FG) exams are offered twice a year (March and October) and cause a great stir within the geology community. Coming from one who has taken the exam, there are many sleepless nights, stressful days and weekends trying to memorize every aspect of geology you learned in school.

Park_Long - FG ExamHere are a few FG exam tips for you to keep in mind:

The FG exam really does focus on the FUNDAMENTALS.


1. Pick up an intro to geology textbook and read it!


2. Know your terms for the following topics: geomorphology, minerology, field geology and hydrogeology – these really are the main topics!


3. Remember to memorize your conversions: ft/mile, ft3/yrd3, ft3/gallon, ft2/acre


4. Memorize important equations: Darcy’s Law, transmissivity, total porosity, hydraulic gradient, Average Linear Velocity Equation, apparent dip equation and thickness of a unit equation.


5. Know your Geologic Time Scale!! – this is pertinent for the exam.


6. Buy the Geology Study Manual for the National (ASBOG) Licensing Exam at I know it is pricey, but it covers every topic on the FG exam and will be the main study material you will most likely use for the FG exam and the Practice of Geology (PG) exam.


7. Take as many practice exams as possible. The practice exams provided in the Geology Study Manual (link above) are very close to the types of questions, including difficulty level, you will see on the exam.



My Last Bit of Advice:

Remember that this is a national exam. Just because you don’t have volcano’s, desserts, glaciers, etc. in your state does not disqualify those topics as possible exam questions. Make sure you have a general understanding of the following topics listed under Appendix 2 FG and PG Test Blueprints at the following link:–August%202014.pdf


If you don’t pass on the first try, don’t give up. This is not an easy exam, and you will pass the next time.

Best of luck!


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Tackling Technical Regulations: A List of Resources to Help Bring Closure to a Site

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Technical writing in the environmental field is a lot more than just jotting down the history of your site and interpreting data.

Depending on what state your site is in, there are technical regulations that your reports and data need to follow in order to obtain closure or proceed to the next step in the remediation process. In most cases, one would assume that would be a pretty easy task. Just follow whatever the regulations say… that is until you realize how many guidance documents, technical rules and regulations there are (not to mention making sure you have the most up-to-date version). Since most of my days are spent reading up on the latest regulations and applying them to reports, I’ve compiled a general list of the top technical regulations, in a few states, I find most helpful to know and where to find the information you may need:






  • And of course, any regulations pertaining to HSCA and SIRS



New Jersey




  • If you cannot find what you need, use the “NJDEP-SRP Guidance Library.” Most of their technical regulations and guidance’s will be there:






  • Can’t find what you need? Go to the DEP’s Online Library:  



Technical writing in the environmental consulting field is more than just knowing your site. A good company knows what their state requires to get you to the end goal: site closure.


Next time you go to write a technical report, make sure you are up to date with what each state requires.



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