BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality honored unsung volunteers March 18 at the downtown Baton Rouge departmental headquarters.
DEQ Secretary Peggy Hatch proudly posed for pictures with winners of the Environmental Leadership Program Awards. ELP Coordinator Linda M. Hardy said 23 awards were handed out this year to businesses, organizations and schools/universities.
Hardy is impressed at their self-starting philosophies.
"There's no mandate to get them done," said Hardy. "They're just voluntarily doing these things to promote pollution prevention in our state!"
Groups in the WAFB viewing area won big. It makes us proud to know, that you have companies who look beyond their work sites and want to help make the community and natural assets more beautiful with improved lives.
Take a look at the projects that won and you'll see what I means.
LSU-Tigers to Cubs Stormwater Pollution Prevention project won. LSU's Campus Sustainability Office worked with University Lab School to raise awareness with students that chemicals you pour into storm drains can poison drinking water aquifers, and bayous, and so on. The lesson send high school students throughout the campus placing warnings on storm drains to only send water through them.
Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter School in Baton Rouge kicked up the smart creativity. In cahoots with the LSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the kids of Kenilworth did a study with the college students. They targeted work already underway in Louisiana restoring coastal areas.
Specifically they asked a common sense question. Is there a way to avoid buying brand new limestone for the construction of some of the erosion projects with a substance that needs to be recycled?
Their study found "fluorogypsum", a by-product of locally-produced hydrofluoric acid! There are reportedly piles of fluorogypsum scattered around our area that don't have to be waste piles, if they're used instead of limestone.
Capital Area Corporate Recycling Council is by its very mission an Environmental Leader. It recycles old technology of all kinds: cell phones, computers, adding machines, you name it. Those items, refurbished and placed in needy hands do not go in a landfill. CACRC held 27 electronic recycling events during the last year. As a result, 152,711 pounds of electronic material was recycled!
ExxonMobil's Polyolefins Plant in Baton Rouge was honored for three programs that have trendy acronyms… STEM, ACE, and EMCOT.
STEM, of course, is Science Technology Engineering and Math stimulation projects in schools. ExxonMobil volunteers regularly offer classes to inspire and spur creativity in areas that prepare students for careers in science, math and technology. ACE is "Ambassadors Committed to Education", another plant outreach. And EMCOT is Exxon Mobil Community Outreach. All programs reach for young minds, either in grade school, high school, universities, vo-tech schools and even local officials.
Rubicon in Geismar must be mentioned in this report. The company, without prompting from anyone outside, decided on its own to recycle Aniline Complex Benzene. The company installed pipeworks, added instruments in the process and incorporated a spare storage vessel. Because they spent money, they are able now to recycle the harmful benzene back into production. They actually recycled 530,000 pounds of toxic benzene!
DEQ loves big numbers and when you total the environmental impact of the 23 award winners' projects, the pollutants reduced are:
- 11,390,816 gallons of pollutants including sulfuric acid, caustic soda, wastewater
- 9,679,963 pounds of carbon monoxide
- 7,715 cubic feet of natural gas
- 11,914,180 pounds of non-contaminated soils and clarified slurry oil sediment
- 1,428,743 pounds of benzene, chlorinated organics, e-waste, filter media, plastics
- 24,354 cubic yards of compost, woodwaste
- 61,553 gallons of used oil
- 5,644,818 gallons of oily water