Company news

SSCI Participates in Career Fair

SSCI participated in the Second Annual Career Night at Pearland Junior High East (PJHE) on August 4, 2018.  The PJHE Roughnecks invited presenters from a variety of backgrounds to discuss careers and educational paths with the 7th and 8th grade students.  The students experienced exciting, hands-on learning while gaining an understanding of the educational steps needed to achieve their goals.


 

 

SSCI presented a booth displaying sampling equipment, protective gear, and education materials.  Students were able to ask questions from the SSCI staff such as, “Where can I study environmental science?” or “What kind of services do you provide?”.  Demonstrations of how to use hearing protection were a big hit!

 

 

Also in attendance was SSCI’s very good friend, Tim Pylate, Executive Director of Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC).  ABNC brought wildlife to show students the importance of these species and discuss careers in natural resources.  ABNC located on Bay Area Boulevard is the largest urban wilderness preserve in the United States.  Read more about ABNC at www.abnc.org.

SSCI also participated in the PJHE career night in 2017.  We are pleased to be able to support the local community in providing educational information and career guidance.

SSCI supports El Lago Coffee Co.

El Lago Coffee Company

    

Joe and Terry Butcher are the proprietors of local coffee roastery El Lago Coffee located in Seabrook, Texas. In an effort to reduce the impact of shipping coffee across the planet and pursue their love of sailing the pair took their sailboat’s maiden voyage to South America to pick up their first load of green, or raw, coffee beans for roasting back in the States.  However, on their return journey the pair encountered a storm, forcing the proprietors to call the Coast Guard for rescue.  The sailboat, and their caffeine-laden bounty, was lost to the depths of the Gulf of Mexico.

Today the Butchers are roasting coffee that they import in a traditional manner, it comes in 100 kilo packages and is transported by a cargo barge. The goal of El Lago Coffee Co. is to use the proceeds from roasting specialty beans to fund another sailboat with a much larger hull allowing the dream of EcoSail-transport to live on.

El Lago Coffee Company states that the El Lago Coffee Schooner will be a zero emissions “Ecosail” ship and carry a standard 20’ shipping container. The maximum load will be 47,500 pounds of green coffee beans. The duo say that they can begin construction of the Schooner when they reach their goal of selling 100,000 pounds of coffee annually.  In support of local business and eco-friendly initiatives, SSCI has started sourcing office coffee from El Lago Coffee Co. in an effort to help fund the Butcher’s dream of eco-sailing.

 

 

SSCI Job Timeline: Culvert Construction

SSCI provided maintenance activities to a damaged culvert owned by an HOA located in Dickinson, Texas (Site) where existing articulated concrete blocks (ACBs) were uplifted and separated during a Hurricane Harvey.  This caused the subgrade to be eroded and a large hole to form at the base of the culvert. SSCI was able to mobilize quickly and efficiently to solve the problem.  The work involved designing a new, more effective culvert layout that would significantly reduce erosion during large rain events.

The following construction services were also completed during the remediation:

  • Pumping of standing water in the washout area;
  • Replacement of soil and re-grading of subgrade slope;
  • Salvage and placement of ACBs onto subgrade;
  • Placement of inlet and piping;
  • Paving of high-flow areas in the culvert to reduce erosion.

A final post-repair visit to the Site was conducted to ensure the satisfaction of the HOA and replace ACBs in an aesthetically pleasing pattern. The HOA continues to work with SSCI on other detention pond, erosion, and maintenance activities.  SSCI finished the work ahead of schedule even after being impacted by weather-related delays.

2018 SSCI Company Picnic

 

SSCI’s Annual Company Picnic was good, clean fun for our employees, their families, and friends. Every year the SSCI team gathers like family at Hodges’ Ranches for home-cooking and camaraderie. The occasion also gave the SSCI team a chance to get to know our newest team members on a more personal level. Office interactions become easier when employees find something in common with one another, and working relationships benefit by the acceptance of employees and their respective families It humanize those we see around the office and pays tribute to a more traditional form of social networking.The SSCI team and their respective families all came together in the relaxing environment, and the favorite activities among the kids included swimming and feeding horses.  Today, companies that organize family events are more likely to retain employees by investing in time spent with them outside of work to cultivate loyalty to the organization. In other words, the atmosphere creates a feeling of recognition and appreciation for employees and unites people with the company brand instead of chaining them to it. Like other contemporary businesses, SSCI  embraces this tradition, and the future remains bright.

SSCI Awarded Contract with HGACBuy

SSCI has been awarded the Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Recovery contract with HGACBuy.  HGACBuy has established contracts with firms to provide professional planning, consulting and interim recovery services in the areas of Homeland Security, Disaster Preparedness and Recovery, Emergency Response and All Hazards Planning, Continuity of Operations and Recovery Services, and FEMA programs. SSCI’s services under the contract include Environmental Assessments, Asbestos Containing Materials Services, Emergency Response, Construction and Remediation, Oilfield Services, Wetlands and Ecological Services, and Storm water Management.

HGACBuy is an award-winning, nationwide government-to-government procurement service operated by the Houston-Galveston Area Council. Beginning in 1975, HGACBuy assembled a team of experienced professionals, who, collectively, offer more than 150 years experience to members.  HGACBuy is active throughout the United States and provides nearly 6,000 members with 36 major categories of products and services from more than 800 highly qualified contractors. Entities eligible to participate in HGACBuy include:

• Municipalities, Cities, Counties and State Agencies
• Councils of Government
• Schools, School Districts, Colleges, Universities
• Hospitals, Hospital Districts
• Emergency Medical Services and Services Districts
• Volunteer Fire and Rural Fire Departments
• Prevention Districts
• Special Law Enforcement Jurisdictions
• Judicial Courts and Districts
• Emergency Communications Districts
• Utility Districts (MUDs, WCIDs, Irrigation)
• Authorities (Airport, Port, River, Water, Toll Road)
• Not-for-Profit Corporations [501(c)3] providing government functions and services

SSCI has a long standing relationship with many public sectors clients and is pleased to be part of the HGACBuy team of consultants who are ready for any emergency, or natural disaster. SSCI provides services under the Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Recovery, which include:

• Emergency Operations and Response
• Contingency and Risk Assessment
• Hazard Identification
• Training and Consultants
• Emergency Preparedness/Safety Equipment

For more information regarding HGACBuy Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Recovery please click and download HGACBuy Information.

 

 

City of Houston Experience and Certifications

SSCI Environmental has recently renewed our certification as a City of Houston Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE).  SSCI also holds the City of Houston Women Business Enterprise (WBE) and Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) certifications.  SSCI has worked successfully with the City of Houston on projects as a prime and as a subcontractor for many years.  These projects include Asbestos Surveys and Mold Assessments, Asbestos Air Monitoring/Abatement, Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), and Phase II ESAs. SSCI provided Professional Environmental Consulting Services, General Environmental Services, and Asbestos and Lead Program Services.  More information regarding these project is provided below.

SSCI has conducted multiple Asbestos Surveys and Mold Assessments. These projects involved analysis of bulk samples of suspect Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) as well as analysis of air and surface samples to determine the presence of mold, and identify the type of mold present. All the information gathered from analyzing samples is presented in a technical report. SSCI is a Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) certified Asbestos Management Planner Organization and all work is performed under an Individual Asbestos Management Planner.  Services have also included conducting Asbestos Air Monitoring/Abatement in accordance with Texas Asbestos Health Protection Rules (TAHPR). A TDSHS inspector was present and inspected the work place, monitored air conditions, collected air samples for phase-contrast microscopy (PCM) analysis, and provided clearance of the work place.

SSCI conducted Phase I ESAs in accordance with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard Designation E 1527-13 including All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI). The Phase I ESAs conducted by SSCI included detailed historic reviews of each site (aerials, topographic maps, city directories, fire insurance maps, chain-of-title, interviews), environmental setting reviews, thorough property inspections, and regulatory database reviews (federal, state, local, tribal) to identify recognized environmental conditions.  Services have also included performance of Phase II ESAs to determine whether historic operations in connection with a property had affected soil and shallow groundwater. All field activities were conducted in accordance with SSCI’s Health and Safety Program and under the supervision of a State of Texas licensed Professional Geoscientist. The Limited Phase II ESAs consisted of soil and groundwater sampling, analysis, and a detailed report presenting findings and recommendations in accordance with the Texas Risk Reduction Program.

We are pleased to continue our relationship with the City of Houston and look forward to many more years of service.

City of Houston Certification is also accepted by the following agencies:

  • METRO
  • Port of Houston Authority
  • Houston Independent School District
  • Houston Community College
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Houston Housing Authority
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
  • Texas Department of Transportation
  • Airport Transportation Agencies Statewide

To learn more about DBE certification, visit the City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity.

Wetlands Permitting, Continuing Education

Project Manager, Chrystal Fretwell, recently attended a Wetland Permitting Workshop based on the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Regulation and the Clean Water Act (CWA) Enforcement requirements.  The workshop included documentation of wetland delineations, review of hydric soils, and performance of a Hydrology and Hydric Soils Field Practicum at Jesse Jones Park and Nature Center in Humble, Texas.

 Gathering soil data using the Munsell Soil Color Book. Wild strawberries growing at the Jesse Jones Park & Nature Center.
   
 Iron deposit fissures in the soil indicate hydric soils. Soil testing location.

Mr. Jim Herrington, PWS was the course instructor.  Mr. Herrington, PWS has over 30 years of professional Natural Resources experience, and worked for the Environmental Professional Agency (EPA) for 14 years of his career.  Ms. Fretwell, “Found this workshop highly informative, with Mr. Herrington, PWS having a profound amount of knowledge regarding wetland classification and permitting”.  Ms. Fretwell further stated, “I can’t wait to continue my wetland education, by attending a second Wetland Permitting Workshop in November of 2017”!

SSCI provides Wetland and Ecological Services, and we can’t wait to utilize Ms. Fretwell’s newly found knowledge on projects!

Drones in Environmental Investigations

The usage of drones by civilians has increased significantly over the past few years.  An estimated 600,000 drones will be in use by commercial enterprises by 2018. The top industry using drones in the United States is photography with the second largest being real estate ( DMR, www.expandedramblings.com).  Drones have been used in military applications for years but as the drones move to the commercial industry and to hobbyists, concerns have been raised regarding safety and enforcement of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.  The FAA refers to drones as an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and regulations apply for personal and professional use.  With drones becoming more common, it’s important to know the rules.  Even if you’re just flying a drone for fun, you must register with the FAA, stay at least 5 miles away from airports unless you have prior permission from air traffic control, and have the drone in a person’s line of sight at all times.  Visit the FFA’s website for rules regarding Fly for Fun, Fly for Work.

Scientists have been exploring the use of drones in environmental applications for several years.  Drones can be used to collect ecological data by aerial surveillance without disturbing sensitive environments or species thus limiting human interaction that can often be damaging to the environment.  Drones have also been applied to situations to minimize the risk of human injury such as surveying elevated heights or assessing conditions that may result in physical danger.  The usage of drones also provides efficiency in surveying.  For example, drones are used to survey pipeline corridors from remote stations saving both time and energy by not using aerial flight to photograph corridors.  Drones use a number of imaging techniques including infrared sensing, which can be used to measure vegetation growth and photogrammetry, a remote sensing process that creates an “ortho-mosaic” of the area.  This technology has been used in real estate functions such as Property Condition Assessments and Phase I Environmental Site Assessments.  Other environmental applications include detecting water intrusion, animal management and conservation, coastal management, river and flood management, plant conservation, forestry, regulation enforcement, and monitoring change.

There are two UAS Platform Types of drones: fixed wing and rotary. Fixed wing drones generate lift through wings while rotary drones generate lift by rotating propellers. This allows rotary drones to land and takeoff from the ground while fixed wing drones must be started by throwing into the air. Fixed wings have longer endurance times, are generally faster, and are more efficient for large areas. Rotary drones are more flexible, can hover, fly lower, and are better for inspections/higher resolution pictures. Both drones can be autonomously flown using apps or by defining a set path.  Drones are now being researched for use to count livestock, check fence lines and roads, find missing animals, and measure the nutritive value of forage.

SSCI participated in a webinar entitled “Drones on Rangelands–The Basics” presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service ecosystem science and management unit.  In the presentation, an example of drone use in range land application was provided.  The drones map out the area surveyed and then a computer software is used to search for the shape of the cattle and take out the background aerial image leaving only the cattle, as seen on the right side with the yellow background. The program then counts the number of outlines of cattle.

Summer is Here, 2017 Company Picnic

SSCI recently held its annual Ranch Picnic located at the Hodges Ranch in Santa Fe, Texas. SSCI was also happy to host CRG Texas Environmental Services, Inc. at the annual Ranch Picnic.  This year’s Ranch Picnic featured a wide variety of delicious Texas BBQ!  From ribs, chicken, sausage, and smoked brisket to tasty sweet treats, a fun time was had by all!  Friendly competitive games of corn-hole and croquet commenced between a few SSCI and CRG employees throughout the afternoon.  A ranch tour was provided by Ms. Helen Hodges, President of SSCI, to all who attended the festivities.  Throughout the tour Ms. Hodges showed guests a few of her retired performance horses, her beef cattle, and a tour of her lovely ranch home.

 

All guests left the Ranch Picnic far too full of BBQ and with many fond memories!  Planning for the 2018 SSCI Ranch Picnic is already underway!