SSCI Environmental

Founded in 1986, SSCI specializes in enhancing the environment through its sound solutions approach. “Getting the job done is priority number one, not prolonging our participation,” says Helen I. Hodges, President and CEO.

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Throwback Thursday to SSCI’s Teamwork Builds Results

“A strong team that is focused on quality work and innovative but proven methods can build partnerships that produce results on time and within budget.  Separation Systems Consultants, Inc. (SSCI), professionals in environmental management and field remediation, is just that kind of team.  And we’d like to be part of your team for success.”

These words were written a few decades ago but are still just as true today.  To read more:  SSCI – Teamwork Builds Results (printable version)



Detention & Retention Pond Inspections


The greyhound Takota is a former race dog who needed space to run! Takota is shown here running laps in a three-acre detention pond in Webster maintained by SSCI.

Read more about Takota in SSCI’s blog: A doggone good deed,

Separation Systems Consultants Inc. (SSCI) would like to remind you that the time is fast approaching to have your annual Detention/Retention Pond Inspection renewed to comply with your City’s Stormwater Enforcement Policy.

Retention Pond image

SSCI has worked with many Detention and Retention Pond owners in the City of Webster, the City of Clear Lake, and other municipalities on understanding and following the respective Stormwater Enforcement Policy. Our services include a pre-inspection, clean-up/problem consultation (if desired), a final inspection and a Professional Engineer’s seal, if applicable. This process allows you to become familiar with the components of detention pond “upkeep” that are required by the applicable city’s guidlines and policies.

Our Detention and Retention Pond services are detailed on our website at:

Call or e-mail us for more information.

Utilizing TCPN Contracts

Advantages of Utilizing a Contract with The Cooperative Purchasing Network (TCPN):

  • Do you ever use Buy Boards or Cooperative Purchasing Networks for your Products and Services?
  • Do you know you have the option of using SSCI’s TCPN Contract?
    • It is free of charges to you.  No fees.  No dues. 
  • Why you might choose the TCPN option?
    • State & Federal Laws “Strongly Encourages” participation in Purchasing Networks & Buy Boards.
    • TCPN is mandated to follow all State Procurement Laws & Regulations.  Audited by State Controller’s Office twice/year.
    • Saves time & money (“Soft Costs”) in the Procurement Process.  Eliminated bidding process, associated expenses, and delays.  Shortens delivery time.
    • A TCPN Contracts means you communicate & deal directly with the Vendor.
    • TCPN handles all the paperwork and assures full compliance by the Vendor under the Contract.
    • TCPN eliminates duplication of efforts, particularly in Purchasing, Risk Mgmt, and Project Mgmt Depts. Helps entities operate efficiently & economically.
    • TCPN is ISO 9001/2000 Certified Procurement Process for Goods & Services. 
  • Why Choose SSCI?
    • Quality of Service – SSCI has been screened & registered by TCPN and the State(s) as a certified licensed Vendor. 
    • Level of Service – No low bids from unscrupulous “fly-by-night” vendors.  You know exactly what you will be receiving.
    • No change orders accepted without a modification to the existing Contract.
    • SSCI is a State Certified WMBE, HUB, and DBE.
    • You are awarded a Best-Value Contract based on quality, performance, satisfaction and pricing.
  • SSCI is a Registered & Certified TCPN Provider
    • SSCI has been registered and certified as a Quality Services Vendor/Provider continuously since 2002.  We have been in business for over 25 years.
    • TCPN Vendor Contract #: R5068.  We are Registered and Certified in 37 States across the Country.
    • SSCI prices are “leveraged”.  Pricing has been reduced for large quantity discounts.  You receive the same prices as the largest Buyers.  SSCI prices are guaranteed annually.
    • SSCI is a Licensed Engineering Firm in Texas and Louisiana. We are a Registered and Licensed Environmental Consulting, General Contracting, Construction, Fueling System, and Environmental Contracting firm. 
    • SSCI is a TCEQ Licensed Contractor for UST and Corrective Action Services.

30TH ANNIVER SEAL-2016SSCI – Why Use TCPN (printable version)


League City Historical Society Living History Dinner

In September 2015, SSCI team members attended the League City Historical Society Living History Dinner at the Walding Station in League City, Texas.  The League City Historical Society’s annual fundraiser offers the opportunity to spend an evening with a famous “figure in history”.  This year the nationally known Larry Marple from Ohio provided an informative and entertaining portrayal of the Colonel Theodore Roosevelt.  Mr. Marple played the role of Col. Roosevelt riding along with his Rough Riders as they headed to Cuba to fight for Cuban Independence.

20150912_220431 (1)SSCI’s President, Helen I. Hodges, serves on the Board of Directors for the League City Historical Society (LCHS) as well as most of SSCI’s employees serve as members of LCHS.  SSCI’s LCHS members attended the Living History Dinner and were greatly amazed by the event.  The venue was full of fascinating antiques from a huge antique fire truck to old time barber chairs.  A Silent Auction was held during the event auctioning off a wide selection of items provided by many contributors ranging from baked goods to paintings.  SSCI attendees were intrigued to learn about Col. Roosevelt’s life journey. During the audience interaction, Mr. Marple’s knowledge as Col. Roosevelt was dramatically put to the test.

Mrs. Theresa Abell with SSCI said, “The man definitely knew his stuff! Intense questioning from the audience livened up the details as well as his thoughts behind decisions he’d made as our President.  I was thrilled to realize that we share the same birthday, October 27th. Definitely an event I would recommend to all and a big ‘thank you’ to LCHS for providing us this unique experience of history! I’d give it a ***** (5 stars).”

Overall, SSCI gave the performance two thumbs up and anxiously awaits The League City Historical Society’s next event “Ghosts of the Past” Genealogy in a Cemetery.  The event will be held Saturday, October 31, 2015 come rain or shine to deliver fun and enlightening tales of the genealogy of the Pioneer Family of Gordy. Surnames include Gordy, Derrick, McFaddin, Rakestraw and Frost.  The tour includes West Bay Common School Children’s Museum, 210 N. Kansas Street, and continues with a short drive to Fairview Cemetery.

For more information and tour times for this event, please call the Museum at 281-554-2994 or chairperson, Deborah Gammon at 281-334-4950.


From left to right: Theresa Abell with SSCI, Jo Drake Keim with SSCI, Helen I. Hodges with SSCI, Larry Marple as Theodore Roosevelt, Dan Tibbals with SSCI, and Timm Mull with Hodges Ranches.

Throwback Thursday to SSCI’s July Barbecue

ranch and horses

The Hodges’ Ranch

Throwback Thursday to SSCI’s barbecue where the SSCI Houston office celebrated Mr. Dan Tibbals’ recent achievement of passing the Professional Geoscientist exam and begun the planning of SSCI’s 30th birthday celebration.  SSCI employees and their families were invited to enjoy the beautiful summer day at the Hodges’ Ranch in Santa Fe, Texas on July 12, 2015.

 “It was a great opportunity to meet each other’s spouses and children -those people we know so well from conversations with co-workers, but not in person,” said Ms. Jo Keim.

Children petting the horses at the SSCI barbecue.

Activities at the ranch included feeding and grooming horses, rounding up the cows, an overview of the ranch operations, horseback riding, feasting on various delicious food dishes, and swimming in the Hodges’ pool.  The afternoon highlight was brought by a demo of a remotely controlled quadcopter with a camera which performed fun aerial stunts while providing visual aerial views of distant ranch pastures.

At the end of the day, SSCI’s employees agreed that the gathering was a great way to get together and socialize, and that more 30th year anniversary planning sessions are in order!

Don’t let mold make a move on your building

Like the rest of us, mold loves Houston. The warm, humid climate makes our city as natural a home for molds as it is for the energy industry.

At normal levels, mold is harmless. There are lots of types of molds that grow outdoors as well as indoors like inside your home and office building. The problem comes when moisture problems inside those structures cause mold to grow beyond normal levels.

“Normal levels” is a subjective term – even the government has yet to place regulations on what constitutes as natural levels or unhealthy levels.

If mold levels grow beyond minimum levels, the indoor air may become laden with mold spores at concentrations that are hundreds to thousands of times greater than outside. Contact with those high levels of mold spores, especially particular types such as Stachybotrys, can cause infection, allergies or toxic responses. Those little fungi can even cause structural damage to buildings.

Indoor mold infestation

Indoor Mold Infestation on Walls

How to prevent mold from growing

But no worries, there’s good news! You can proactively prevent mold from appearing – never mind becoming a problem. Here’s how:

  • Take a look around. Routinely inspect your property for mold. Where there is moisture, there could be mold. Be sure to give a deep inspection to the following areas:
    • Restrooms
    • Kitchens
    • Garages
    • Window seals
    • Water fountains
    • Ice machines
    • Around plumbing or water heaters
Mold Growth Around Piping

Mold Growth Around Piping

  • If you find mold, kill it. Small, moldy areas can be cleaned with bleach and water. Larger areas may require professional mold remediation.
  • Reduce the moisture.
    • Keep humidity levels below 60%, preferably 30-50%, by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier.
    • Do not carpet “moisture prone” rooms such as bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens.
    • Fix leaks immediately in plumbing, roofs, windows and other similar areas.
    • Install ventilation fans in restrooms/bathrooms.
    • Vent dryers to the outside of the building.
    • Take care of any water damage within 48 hours. The quicker water-damaged materials are dried out, the less severe the property damage. Remember, even small spills can foster mold growth.
    • Keep your foundation as dry as possible by sloping drainage away from the foundation.
  • Have heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems routinely inspected and maintained. Change the filters monthly. Consider using a high-efficiency filter and have the system professionally inspected annually. Ensure the inspection includes the air ducts, vents, drip pan, condenser, etc.
  • Mold inhibitors. Use cleaning products and paints that contain mold inhibitors.
  • Clean. Dust furniture, vacuum floors and clean kitchens and bathrooms weekly.

If you utilize these tips, you can out maneuver mold!

Need help?

Large mold-removal jobs might require a contractor to take care of the problem. That’s where SSCI comes in. Or we can help you create and implement strategies to prevent mold from forming or growing. Just give us a call, 1-800-324-7724.

Report: 2014 the hottest year on record

It’s getting hot in here.

On July 16, the American Meteorological Society released the 25th annual State of the Climate report . That report says 2014 was the Earth’s warmest year on record based on four independent global datasets. And Climate Central reports that 2015 is even hotter.

According to the AMS report, new records were set by rising levels of land and ocean temperatures, rising sea levels and increasing accumulations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As the El Niño–Southern Oscillation warmed up near the end of the year, so did several regional climates. That effect is expected to continue throughout 2015, Climate Central says.

The State of the Climate report was compiled by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information and was based on contributions from 413 scientists from 58 countries.


The report’s climate indicators show patterns, changes and trends of the global climate system. These include various types of greenhouse gases, temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean and land, cloud cover, sea level, ocean salinity, sea ice extent and snow cover.

Other highlights from the report:

  • Atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 1.9 ppm in 2014, reaching a global average of 397.2 ppm for the year. This compares with a global average of 354.0 in 1990.
  • Europe experienced its warmest year on record, with more than 20 countries exceeding their previous records. Africa had above-average temperatures across most of the continent, Australia saw its third warmest year on record, Mexico had its warmest year on record, and Argentina and Uruguay each had their second warmest year on record. Eastern North America was the only major region to experience below-average annual temperatures.
  • Global sea level was keeping pace with the 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year trend observed over the past two decades.
  • The 91 tropical cyclones in 2014 was well above the 1981-2010 average of 82 storms. The 22 named storms in the eastern/central Pacific were the most to occur in the basin since 1991.

The EPA finds fracturing activities don’t have widespread impact on drinking water

After studying more than 950 sources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources. The agency released a draft assessment of its findings June 4, 2015.

Potential water vulnerabilities still exist, though, said Thomas A. Burke, the EPA’s science advisor and deputy assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

“Drinking water may be vulnerable to impacts. We feel very confident in our findings…the study was not, nor was it intended to be, a catalog of all instances of contamination,” Burke said.

What this means for you

The report isn’t likely to lessen pressure from environmental activities on companies that engage in fracturing activities. But it does support the argument from companies that the risks to drinking water sources from those activities is small. SSCI can use the report data when we investigate a drinking-water issue, either from the oil company’s or the consumer’s point of view.

Congressional concerns

The study was intended to identify vulnerabilities so the country could take measures to reduce risks and better protect its water. Congress had requested the study of the water used for fracturing, starting with the acquisition of the water, chemical mixing at the well, injection of fracturing fluids, the collection of fracturing wastewater and wastewater treatment and disposal.

The study looked at water resources being used as drinking water and other water resources that could potentially be used as drinking water in the future. The study is not a human health risk assessment, Burke pointed out.

The EPA’s review found specific instances where well integrity and wastewater management affected drinking water, but the agency noted the instances were small compared with “the large number of hydraulically fractured wells across the country.”

SSCI can help

For oil companies that want to protect themselves before and during hydraulic fracturing activities, SSCI can do a pre-inspection to document environmental conditions, do health and safety inspections, write spill plans, train workers and investigate spill incidents.

A doggone good deed

Takota the happy greyhound

Takota was a sad dog. A former race dog, the greyhound now lived in a small yard, and his owner, Les Tibbals, couldn’t find a fenced-in area big enough for him to really run.

Then Helen Hodges, president and CEO of SSCI, offered use of the fence-lined land around a one-acre detention pond that the company maintains in Webster, Texas. In exchange, Les is cleaning up trash on the site and has offered to mow.

Now the detention pond isn’t just protecting against flooding and downstream erosion. It’s become a new track for Takota to race around.

Takota the happy greyhound

After getting used to the space, Takota took off running laps around the pond and now looks forward to his regular trips to the field. “Thanks for allowing my buddy Takota a fenced place to run, and me to walk,” Les wrote to Helen.

Protect yourself with a certified SPCC

If your company maintains a total aboveground oil storage capacity of greater than 1,320 gallons, or a total underground oil storage capacity of greater than 42,000 gallons located where there is a “reasonable potential” for a discharge to reach navigable waters, your company is subject to Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires SPCC plans in an attempt to prevent oil from entering navigable waters and adjourning shorelines, which can have a costly impact on the environment and your financial bottom line.

Of note: Aboveground storage containers with a capacity of 55-gallons or more are included in the aboveground capacity threshold calculation. Underground storage tanks regulated under 40 CFR 280 and 281 are not subject to the SPCC regulations. Neither are operations that exist to move oil from one location to another.

Oil of any type and in any form is covered, including petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, oil refuse, oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil, fats, oils or greases of animal, fish, or marine mammal origin, vegetable oils and other oils and greases such as synthetic and mineral oils.

The trick can be determining whether or not your storage containers possess the “reasonable potential” for a discharge to reach navigable waters.” When determining that, consider:

  • The geography and location of your facility relative to nearby navigable waters such as streams, creeks and other waterways
  • Whether ditches, gullies, storm sewers or other drainage systems may transport an oil spill to nearby streams
  • The estimated volume of oil that could be spilled in an incident and how that oil might drain or flow from your facility and the soil conditions or geographic features that might affect the flow toward waterways
  • Whether precipitation runoff could transport oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines

You should not take into account manmade features such as dikes, equipment, or other structures that might prevent, contain, hinder, or restrain the flow of oil. Assume those features are not present when making your determination.

If you consider the factors described above and determine a spill can reasonably flow to a waterway, then you must comply with the SPCC rule by developing and implementing an SPCC plan.

Prepare and implement an SPCC plan that describes oil handling operations, spill prevention practices, discharge or drainage controls, and the personnel, equipment and resources used at the facility to prevent oil spills from reaching navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. Each company’s SPCC plan needs to be unique and specific to that company. But, some elements must be describe in every plan:

  • Operating procedures at the facility to prevent oil spills
  • Control measures (such as secondary containment) installed to prevent oil spills from entering navigable waters or adjoining shorelines
  • Countermeasures to contain, cleanup, and mitigate the effects of an oil spill that has impacted navigable waters or adjoining shorelines

Every SPCC plan must be prepared in accordance with good engineering practices. Preparation of the SPCC plan is the responsibility of the facility owner or operator. Unless you meet certain criteria that allows for self-certification, your SPCC plan must be certified by a licensed professional engineer. The engineer will confirm the plan has been prepared in accordance with good engineering practices, including consideration of applicable industry standards, and with the requirements of the rule; procedures for required inspections and testing have been established; and the SPCC plan is adequate for the facility.

No matter who certifies your SPCC Plan, remember that ultimately the owner or operator is responsible for complying with the rule. A copy of the rule is available at

If your company needs assistance with creating, updating or implementing its SPCC plan, SSCI can help. We’ve written or updated SPCC plans for a variety of client types, including more than 320 plans for the Texas Department of Transportation facilities.

Spill-prevention tips

A significant part of your SPCC plan will be focused on oil spill prevention. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Use containers suitable for the oil stored
  • Provide overfill prevention for your oil storage containers. You could use a high-level alarm or audible vent
  • Provide sized secondary containment for bulk storage containers, such as a dike or a remote impoundment. The containment needs to hold the full capacity of the container, plus possible rainfall. The dike may be constructed of earth or concrete. A double-walled tank may also suffice
  • Provide general secondary containment to catch the most likely oil spill where you transfer oil to and from containers and for mobile re-fuelers and tanker trucks
  • Periodically inspect and test pipes and containers. You need to visually inspect aboveground pipes and oil containers according to industry standards. Buried pipes need to be leak tested when they are installed or repaired. Include a written record of inspections in the plan