I am working for a large, international aluminum product manufacturing plant, where we make rolled aluminum coils and sell them out to people that want to customize the stuff. This company is not called Manuel's Mousepad Emporium (MME), but that's what I'm calling it so as to give myself one level of anonymity. I am in the Health, Safety & Environmental department, where we have two staff environmental engineers and a handful of safety specialists. My title is, officially, Environmental Compliance Technician. I'm pretty sure that that is the most prestigious sounding job title I've ever had.
So what do I do? To answer that would require a small understanding of the rolled product manufacturing facility itself and how the processes work. In extreme brevity, MME buys recycled aluminum and melts it down to a certain level. This molten aluminum goes through a casthouse until eventually it is poured into molds and cast as large (~22 feet long) ingots. The ingots make their way through the mills, getting chopped and scalped and cut along the way. Eventually they go through a machine that smashes the ingot down over and over, kind of like rolling a piece of clay in your hand until it is a long and thin snake, except the aluminum stays rectangular in shape and not round. One the aluminum is flattened into a sheet it is then rolled up into a coil (~20,000 lbs.) and hauled off on a crate to sit and await shipping. That's the short version.
MME also does customized sheets with embossed designs. There's also a paint process if customers want colored aluminum (and many of them do).
So what do I do? I basically make sure that all the water that we're pushing out of the property is within the acceptable limits for a variety of things (coliform, chlorine, pH, oil & grease, etc.) To do this requires a daily visible inspection of our main outfall and the waste water treatment outfall. In addition to the regulations surrounding a WWTP, MME also has its own drinking water supply. I am responsible for all the routine inspections of these areas.
Next I work with the waste side of environmental engineering. There are a few hazardous byproducts left over and I have to make sure that they are properly labeled and disposed of correctly. Non-hazardous and universal waste regulations also fall into this realm. MME doesn't generate a lot of varieties hazardous waste, most of it being from paints and solvents.
The last piece of environmental that I deal with is the air side. Air regulations are some of the most difficult things to understand and regulate. I have several binders in my office on Air Regulations due to the Clean Air Act from the EPA and I have wracked my mind over the billion+ acronyms and numbers. There's a lot of stuff that I don't understand right now, but eventually I'm going to have to know everything that pertains to the aluminum industry, or at least a portion of it. I've not really got into this much yet, but it's coming so very soon.
The EPA has the authority to wage some monstrous fines on violations, so I'm employed to do the routine checks (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) to make sure that we catch any problems and get them corrected before anything major happens. It's a job that keeps me away from my desk for much of the day, and I'm loving it. The casthouses are awesome, but I'll have to get into those again some other day.
Until then, I must retire. I get up earlier now and I have an incredible amount of things going on that I can't disclose currently. Rest assured, though, that I have not forgotten this blog or the Readers of it. Perchance once Stewartland is out of my hands things'll swing back closer to normalcy. Here's to hoping.