SSCI history

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.

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:

  • 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!

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!


Hidden Dangers of Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells

Oil spills consisting of crude oil or drilling “mud” are often found at oil and gas drilling sites.  Drilling fluids are captured during drilling in pits and held for later disposal. The frequency of spills and improper maintenance and disposal of drilling mud results in soil, surface water, and groundwater impacts.  Once the drilling field has been exhausted or abandoned due to economic reasons, the wells, drilling equipment, tanks, pits, gathering lines, and other equipment (as seen in the pictures above) are left behind for property owners to cleanup.

Because there are no requirements in most states for property owners to be notified about abandoned oil and gas wells on their properties, may owners and investors are surprised by contamination on their property from exploration activities.  SSCI often identifies oil and gas concerns during the performance of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA).  The Phase I ESA process includes review of historical documentation including aerial photographs, topographic maps, tax records, deed restrictions, regulatory records, water well and oil and gas well records. Historical records are used to locate previous wells, waste pits, pipelines, and other equipment used during the drilling and development of petroleum resources.

The RRC map shows circular configuration at wells located at the Pierce Junction Salt Dome near State Highway 288 (SH 288) in south Houston (Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), RRC Public GIS Viewer). The concentric rings of wells that radiate from the salt dome are shown extending towards SH 288 and Beltway 8 (Sam Houston Parkway), just north of Pearland.  Pipelines are evident transecting the area, all of which are hazards to property developers and construction such as highway expansion and the installation of utilities.


Shown here is an aerial image of the Pierce Junction Salt Dome depicting the oil and gas activities in this area of south Houston in 1953 (Google Earth, 1953, Aerial Image).



The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), established in 1891, is the state’s oldest regulatory agency and through its Oil and Gas Division, regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas.  Originally, the RRC was given jurisdiction over operations of railroads, terminals, wharves, and express companies. The RRC expanded it’s reach, taking over responsibility for regulating oil pipelines in 1917, oil and gas production in 1919, natural gas delivery systems in 1920, bus lines in 1927, and trucking in 1929.  Today, The RRC has jurisdiction over spills associated with the exploration, development, and production of oil and gas.   For more information, see Who Regulates Oil and Gas Activities in Texas?

With the history of oil and gas exploration dating back to the mid-1800s in Texas, it is no wonder that many developers are struggling with the hidden dangers of oil and natural gas exploration.  In 1901, Spindletop in Beaumont, Texas gushed and launched an oil boom with 4 million barrels of oil being produced that year.  Crude oil production in the US is anticipated to hit a record high of 9.53 million barrels per day in 2018.  While regulations exist today to prevent environmental impacts from drilling activities, spills and releases still occur.

SSCI has closed hundreds of waste pits and wells in marsh, swamp and upland areas in Texas and Louisiana.  SSCI’s team of professional geologists, environmental scientists, and engineers have worked on hundreds of oil and gas sites to obtain closure under remediation standards established by the RRC and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).  Remediation services in oilfields at SSCI include soil and groundwater investigation and site closures.  For more information, contact us at 800.324.7724 or at

Throw Back Thursday to SSCI’s With Pollution Experts, Look Before You Leap

With pollution experts, look before you leap.  Experience counts; bargains can prove costly.

Here are some common fallacies:

  • A limited asbestos survey is sufficient to determine the presence of asbestos.
  • Environmental regulations are the same in every state.
  • A consultant who has identified an environmental problem with a Phase I assessment can then just clean it up; there is no need to pay for a Phase II assessment.
  • Historical use of the property is not a source of concern.
  • If the environmental consultant makes no recommendations for further study or cleanup, there are no problems.

This article appeared in the AMERICAN BANKER IN 1995 but still rings true today.

To learn more:  SSCI – AB With Pollution Experts Look Before You Leap Circa 1995 (printable version)



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)



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.

Some history before we march into the future

On June 30, 1989, SSCI specialized in closing nonhazardous oilfield waste pits in Louisiana, a business model that took advantage of a government mandate that those pits be dealt with. The next day, Helen Hodges took over and expanded our services to include consulting and a range of environmental remediation activities.

That kicked off a thriving 25 years for SSCI.

Helen, who’d run small businesses enterprises since she was in grade school, brought both technical and business expertise. She had earned her bachelor’s degree in physical sciences from San Jose University, a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Idaho and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Then she’d worked for a national laboratory and an energy consulting company before she and her family bought SSCI.

Helen insisted SSCI focus on the client, seeing it as the company’s job to look out for the customer. SSCI wouldn’t worry about the next job or where that job will come from – great work and a stellar reputation would take care of that – which means SSCI isn’t looking for ancillary services to sell to clients. “Getting the job done is priority number one, not prolonging our participation,” Helen said.

The blend of environmental consulting and remediation work has kept us busy and growing, even when one side of the business slowed down. Over time, our project management services offerings have grown.

Because we’re constantly watching what’s happening in the environmental services industry and bringing new, thoroughly tested innovations to environmental site and risk assessments, underground storage tank management, soil and groundwater remediation design and implementation, hazardous and nonhazardous waste disposal, asbestos and lead surveys, spill response plan design, and wetlands delineation and training, we bring the latest best practices to bear on each project.

That, combined with personnel who believe in a strong team focus, quality work and innovation, has led to steady success as SSCI has become one of the most honored women-owned companies in Texas.

But that’s our history. At SSCI, we don’t rest on our laurels. We’re constantly looking forward.

Today marks another significant milestone in SSCI’s existence: the installation of a blog and social media updates to keep you informed of new developments not just within SSCI, but also with environmental remediation initiatives and environmental issues.

Come back each month – we’ve got plenty of stories to tell. And connect with us on LinkedIn, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to get regular semi-weekly updates and to engage us in lively debates.

We look forward to having a dialogue, and a long-term relationship, with you.