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ShareFile: A New Way to Reporting

by Energy Technical Services on 06/09/15

This blogpost was written by Lacie Atout.

Being a part of the analytical world entails more than just running tests and compiling data.  On the other end of the spectrum is one of the most important parts of the laboratory: reporting.  The analytical report is the laboratory’s end product; the concluding effort of analysis. The report is the basic service that ETS is providing for our clients. ETS has always taken great measures to ensure that all of our clients’ needs are met, right down to the very end of the analytical process.  Now ETS has a new addition to our process: ShareFile®. 

Over the years, the analytical report, and its delivery, has evolved rapidly.  The postal letter turned into the fax machine, and the fax machine has turned into e-mail.  Soon, the e-mail could become obsolete, as internet “clouds” and other similar functions take over.  This is where ShareFile® steps in.

ShareFile® is a password protected online file storage system.  Users can login with a personal username and password, and access any file that has been issued to them.  This is extremely advantageous to the analytical environment.  The ShareFile® system allows clients to login in from any computer, at any time, and access vital reports that ETS has previously, or presently, generated.  There are many options to customize this system to your business needs, such as to receive notifications that a new report has been added to your ShareFile® account, add a desktop widget to your computer for even easier access, additional user receipts, and more. 

ETS loves making analytical requirements easier for our clients.  Call 205-330-7994, or email, today for more information about your analytical needs, and how to make ShareFile® part of your ETS analytical reports.  

ADEM Permit Applications and Renewals

by Energy Technical Services on 02/27/15

This blogpost was written by Lennette West

Most industries and municipalities know they are required to have a permit to discharge wastewater from their facility.  But a lot of time and energy needs to go into to the application process to ensure the environment is protected and the entity isn't unfairly held responsible for items beyond their control.  Permits are generally in effect for five years and have to be renewed before the expiration date.  In Alabama, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), has primacy, which means their regulations are at least as stringent as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and can be more stringent.  

Most people in the environmental industry are familiar with the term 'NPDES,' which stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System; but did you know there are different types of NPDES?  There are individual permits and general permits.  Individual permit numbers start with 'AL' and are issued to entities that have specific processes and discharges.  These are issued to municipal wastewater treatment plants and companies with individual processes that don’t fit the general permit parameters.  The five year active time starts when the permit is issued.  General permit numbers start with 'ALG' and are issued to generalized industrial processes.  These include asphalt, lumber and wood, transportation, salvage and recycling, and offshore industries.  These permits are on a set schedule for expiration and renewal dates.  So if you receive a permit in the middle of the cycle, you would have to renew before five years. 

In the actual permit, there may be more than one set of testing and monitoring requirements.  This has been especially true of stormwater monitoring.  Years ago, many permits didn’t require stormwater testing, but there has been a big push with regulatory agencies to start monitoring stormwater.  Certain industries are required to collect and test the stormwater leaving their property if they have fueling on-site or have a large volume discharge of stormwater.  And yes, stormwater collection means the samples are collected during a rain, which in Alabama is usually not a problem.  

All permit renewal applications are due to the state at least 180 days before the permit actually expires.  This allows the regulatory agency time to evaluate all the data.  If the application is received under the 180 days, and the permit expires, the regulatory agency has the right to charge the facility a penalty for each day there is discharge.  Also, if the company goes out of business, they still have to notify the regulatory agency and have the permit closed officially.  
When renewing a permit, be aware that there may be some additional testing requirements.  EPA has set requirements for information and test requirements based on the facility.  EPA Form 2A is for wastewater plants.  Wastewater plants are required to do three sets of additional testing during the existing permit period.  Within this additional testing, there are specific tests that have to be analyzed, based on the size of the plant.  EPA Form 2C is for existing industrial process wastewater facilities.  Only one set of additional testing is required for permit renewal for these wastewater facilities.  EPA Form 2F covers the stormwater testing.  On top of all this, state agencies have additional requirements for these facilities.

After the permit application and all fees are received, the regulatory agency will issue a “draft permit” to the entity before the permit goes into effect.  This, to me, is one of the most important times in the issuance of permits.  It allows the entity to review and discuss any concerns that will be on the permit.  The entity, their facility engineers, and their laboratory should all review the draft permit together.  Once the permit is official, it is a difficult process to have changes made- and additional fees may be required.  Draft permits are generally good for 30 days, so it is best not to put off reviewing.  Also, during this time, the public has a chance to comment on the permit.

This is just a general overview of permitting within the state of Alabama.  Detailed information can be found on the ADEM and EPA websites:    

    ADEM EPA   

 ETS would love to help you and your facility with state permitting.   If you would like more information, please give us a call, or email, to discuss your specific needs. 

phone: 205.330.7994

Have a great day everyone!

Tuskaloosa: The Black Warrior Name

by Energy Technical Services on 02/10/15

Good Afternoon, ETS followers! It has been a wonderfully busy first part of this year- hence the lag between our updates.  

To celebrate Tuscaloosa's rich history, the ETS Blog is excited to present a Mike Williams original: 

It is estimated that between the names of  businesses, geographical features, and geological features, the term “Warrior” or “Black Warrior” is the name of choice in 400 to 500 times in Alabama alone.  The origin of this name is quite clear to anyone who lives in the western side of Alabama.  

Tuskaloosa was a Native American chief of a Mississippi group, the possible ancestors of the several southern Native American tribes including the Choctaw and Creek, in what is now Alabama.  He is famous for leading a battle against the famous (or infamous) Spanish conquistador, Hernando de Soto.  

Tuskaloosa’s name is of western Muskogen in origin, (taska, losa), meaning “Black Warrior”.  He is described as being very tall and intimidating, and some say he stood over a foot taller than the Spaniards he was up against
On the trajectory with history, a 42-year old Hernando de Soto was appointed Governor of Cuba by the King of Spain in 1539 and was directed to conquer what is now the Southeastern United States.   In 1540, de Soto had kidnapped Chief Tuskaloosa to assure safe passage through hostile territory.  However, a surprise attack by local chieftains was conducted at the village of Mabila in October 1540.  The ensuing battle left Chief Tuskaloosa dead, and the Spaniards in turn won the battle.  This was the beginning of the “Black Warrior’s” legacy.

Today, Chief Tuskaloosa is honored not only by name in Tuscaloosa County, but also by the 170+ mile Black Warrior River, flowing through western Alabama into the Tombigbee River.  

Another geological asset honoring the great chief is the Black Warrior Basin, a sedimentary basin that exists from western Alabama to northern Mississippi .  The Black Warrior Basin is the longest producing basin of coalbed methane in the United States. The Warrior Basin, officially mapped in 1899 by Dr. Eugene Allan Smith, Alabama State Geologist for 54 years, also produces coal, oil, and natural gas.  

Tuscaloosa's name is not the only asset that has a rich cultural history.  What do you find fascinating about Alabama's history? Leave a comment below!

ETS Training Classes

by Energy Technical Services on 01/06/15

ETS Vice President Lennette West is leading multiple training classes this year! 

Please check out the two most upcoming classes for Nutrients In Wastewater:

  • January 7, 2015 - Jefferson State Community College in Clanton, AL.  Hosted by Alabama Rural Water.  Registration for this ended January 5, 2015.

  • February 19, 2015 - Pelham Police/Court Building in Pelham, AL. Hosted by Alabama Water Environmental Association.  Space is limited! Preregister by emailing: 
Stuckey Godfrey <>
Mike Lankford <>
See below flyer for more details:

Email with any questions you may have.
We hope to see you there! 

Understanding Quality Control: Standard Operating Procedures

by Energy Technical Services on 01/02/15

Understanding Quality Control: Standard Operating Procedures

Understanding Quality Control is a series written by Kailey Dickens,
 environmental lab manager at ETS. The series focuses on real quality control issues and solutions as experienced in the lab at ETS.

Standard Operating Procedures – 40 CFR 136.7
The EPA requires the following 12 quality control elements, where applicable, in each standard operating procedure (SOP):

1. Demonstration of Capability
2. Method Detection Limit
3. Laboratory reagent blank
4. Laboratory fortified blank
5. Matrix spike
6. Internal standards
7. Calibration (initial and continuing)
8. Control charts
9. Corrective action
10. Quality control acceptance criteria
11. Definitions of preparation and analytical batches
12. Minimum frequency for conducting QC analysis

Now that’s a mouthful – but don’t fret. Writing a quality SOP does not involve reinventing the wheel. Many times, SOPs can be easily derived from pre-existing methods from ASTM, EPA, USGS, or Standard Methods. However, each SOP must contain the above 12 elements, regardless of whether or not they are included in the original method.

In some cases, one or more of the above is not applicable. In the instance of total suspended solids (TSS), it’s quite difficult to spike a sample with more solids, and is not required. However, it is required to include in the SOP that matrix spikes are not applicable for that specific analysis.

What the EPA does not require is crucial to a laboratory’s success – a quality SOP should include how to perform an analysis as if one has never seen glassware, reagents, or even a lab. Reagents should be identified with chemical name, chemical symbol, concentration, and volume. Glassware should be identified consistently through the SOP and specified in the introduction so a new analyst can easily find the required glassware. Following the TSS example, a quick Google search for “filter flask” can point a new analyst in the right direction, as seen below:

An SOP should be updated or revised once a year, or each time the method is changed. Each new analyst trained is an opportunity to identify existing errors or misunderstandings that arise from the current method.  The SOP is insurance that each analyst is performing the analysis the exact same way. It also aids analysts in troubleshooting and instrument setup without needing to seek external assistance. 

Happy New Year from ETS!