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EBI News for May 26, 2021- New PFAS Studies Begin

EBI News for May 26, 2021- The following news section contains the latest stories for the environmental industry. Including, new PFAS studies, acquisitions, and more!


KKR to acquire controlling stake in ERM

Global investment firm KKR has signed an agreement to acquire a majority position in Environmental Resources Management (ERM, London, UK) from OMERS Private Equity and Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). ERM’s management team and partners will remain as minority investors. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Reuters reported that the 60% stake sale gives ERM an enterprise value of $2.85 billion. Over the last 50 years ERM has built technical expertise in environmental health, safety, risk and social matters with a team of more than 5,500 consultants across 150 offices in over 40 countries. OMERS and AIMCo bought ERM in 2015 for $1.7 billion, including debt, from Charterhouse Capital Partners; during their investment tenure, ERM acquired 14 businesses and reinforced its leadership in corporate sustainability and climate change. ERM had gross revenue of $1,054 million in FY 2020.

Collaboration supports sustainability goals of the mining industry

Black & Veatch (Overland Park, Kan.) and Paterson & Cooke (Golden, Colo.) announced a strategic collaboration to provide the mining industry with an integrated approach to technology solutions in tailings, water and energy management. “The mining industry needs more innovation and collaboration to unlock the best solutions…. These three domains have interdependencies which benefit from an integrated approach to achieve the most optimized life of mine management plan,” said Jim Spenceley, senior vice president of Black & Veatch’s mining business. The two companies are leveraging best practices and project experience in accordance with “rising expectations for higher environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) standards in the mining industry.”

TRC and Marvel announce RNG partnership

As the biogas market expands to include direct participation by feedstock owners like landfill operators and food processors, TRC Companies (Windsor, Conn.) and the clean energy advisory platform Marvel Power Group (San Francisco, Calif.) are offering a suite of services to the renewable natural gas (RNG) industry. The joint solution offered by TRC and Marvel helps clients to execute an RNG project from project feasibility to revenue contracting and commissioning. The collaboration seeks to streamline project development for both new and existing market participants. “With over 25 years of experience supporting landfill biogas and RNG solutions, TRC is excited to witness and participate in the unprecedented growth and interest in the biogas sector,” said Mark Johnson, TRC’s Director of Power Generation Business Development.

Demand for environmental services in ASEAN creates international trade opportunities

The ASEAN region is seeing an increase in demand for environmental services due to rapid population growth and urbanization, including waste and wastewater management, air pollution and climate change mitigation, according to a study released by the ASEAN-Japan Centre. “Promoting Services Trade in ASEAN: Trade in Environmental Service” estimates sales of environmental services through foreign commercial presence in ASEAN was at least $1.4 billion in 2016, of which more than half was from foreign entities based in Singapore, followed by Thailand and Malaysia, respectively. By contrast, estimated sales of ASEAN entities providing environmental services abroad was $383 million, 90% of which were Singaporean companies. Meanwhile, investment flows to environmental services in ASEAN between 2003 and 2017 were estimated at $1.5 billion, with Singapore receiving investment valued at $948 million, followed by Malaysia, Viet Nam, and Thailand. Investments were concentrated in solid waste management services and wastewater treatment/sewage services.

EPA adds new PFAS to Drinking Water Treatability Database

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an update to its Drinking Water Treatability Database with new references and treatment options for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The update is intended to help communities make informed decisions to manage PFAS. The updates add treatment information for 11 PFAS compounds, bringing the total number of PFAS with treatment information in the database to 37. Researchers have also added new scientific references.

Brown and Caldwell receives grant for PFAS incineration study

Brown and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.) is being funded by The Water Research Foundation (WRF) to study the fate of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through sewage sludge incineration. Thermal treatment of PFAS-laden wastewater solids through sewage sludge incinerators (SSIs) offers a potential PFAS control strategy; however, with few published research studies available, the ability of SSIs to fully mineralize PFAS is unknown. The research team, led by co-principal investigators from Brown and Caldwell and North Carolina State University, has been awarded a $100,000 grant from WRF to provide utilities with an indication of the extent to which SSIs can eliminate or reduce PFAS emissions.

NV5 acquires PES Environmental

NV5 Global Inc. (Hollywood, Fla.), a provider of compliance, technology, and engineering consulting solutions, has acquired PES Environmental Inc. (Novato, Calif.), an environmental engineering and consulting company, for a combination of cash and stock. Founded in 1989, PES Environmental has 56 engineers and environmental scientists and an extensive track record in water resources, groundwater, and stormwater management projects. The acquisition supports NV5’s infrastructure services in addition to its energy and testing and inspection business lines. “PES Environmental will support our comprehensive suite of offerings with additional technical capabilities in high-margin services that we may have otherwise subcontracted,” said Lisa Kay, COO of NV5’s Environmental Health Sciences.

RSK continues strategic expansion

RSK (Helsby, UK) has announced the addition of four more businesses, expanding in the Asia-Pacific region and in continental Europe and broadening its services in the UK. Althoff & Lang GbR (Cologne, Germany) offers geological and geotechnical consulting for building sites, contaminated sites and buildings, urban developments, demolition and excavation planning,?landfills?and excavations. Quality Solutions International Ltd. (QSI, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand) is a risk management company that specializes in risks resulting from the presence of landmines and other explosive hazards. In the UK, RSK has added chartered surveyor Waldrams Ltd., a provider of rights-of-light advice and analysis, and Stephenson Halliday Ltd., a provider of planning and landscape services.

QK to acquire Zumwalt-Hansen

QK Inc. (Visalia, Calif.), an engineering, land survey, planning and environmental firm with five locations in California, has agreed to acquire Zumwalt-Hansen Associates Inc. (ZHA, Hanford, Calif.). Founded in 1949, ZHA provides civil engineering, land survey and planning services and has 11 employees. “QK prides itself as a legacy firm serving the entire San Joaquin Valley region for nearly 50 years now.  We are excited to bring on the talented and proven team at Zumwalt-Hansen Associates,” said Ron Wathen, QK’s CEO.

AEM surveys help California implement sustainable groundwater management

The California Department of Water Resources has selected a team of consultants to conduct airborne electromagnetic (AEM) surveys in the state’s high- and medium-priority groundwater basins. The team is led by Ramboll (Copenhagen, Denmark) and includes GEI, a consulting engineering and environmental firm based in California and Danish firm SkyTEM, which will provide the AEM field surveys. The surveys will provide a standardized statewide dataset to improve understanding of large-scale aquifer structures and support implementation of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Denmark and California are sharing knowledge through the Danish Water Technology Alliance.

New material harvests water from steam and fog

Tiny structures inspired by cactus spines allow a newly created material to gather drinkable water from the air, both day and night, according to Caltech news. The micro-architected hydrogel membrane can produce water through both solar steam-water generation and fog collection—two independent processes that typically require two separate devices. The spines are built out of a hydrogel printed onto a wafer-thin membrane. During the day the hydrogel membrane absorbs sunlight to heat up water trapped beneath it, which becomes steam. The steam then recondenses onto a transparent cover where it can be collected. During the night the transparent cover folds up and the hydrogel membrane is exposed to humid air to capture fog.

U.S. exports of recovered paper and scrap plastic increase in first quarter

Recovered material exports were up in the first three months of 2021 compared with the prior year, according to a May 25 article in Resource Recycling that reviewed U.S. Department of Commerce export figures released in March 2021. The U.S. exported 4.3 million short tons of recovered paper in the first quarter, up 8% over the first quarter of 2020. India remained by far the largest export market (28% of all U.S. fiber exports in the first quarter) followed by Mexico, Vietnam and Thailand; China ranked ninth. U.S. exporters shipped 333 million pounds of scrap plastic during the first quarter of 2021, up 7% year over year, about 43% of which went to Canada and Mexico; Malaysia was the largest overseas importer.

EPA announces winners of PFAS Challenge

The U.S. EPA announced the winners of the Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS Challenge focused on identifying ways to destroy PFAS in concentrated aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), a type of firefighting foam. The winner is Dr. Brian Pinkard of Aquagga Inc. for a hydrothermal processing concept using high-temperature and high-pressure water to dispose of PFAS-contaminated waste onsite. Placing second are: Dr. Denise Kay and Meng Wang of the Ramboll Group and Dr. Cheng Gu of Nanjing University in China for their concept of using ultraviolet light and non-toxic additives to destroy PFAS; and Dr. Sarah (Xiao) Wu of the University of Idaho for a continuous flow liquid-phase plasma discharge process to destroy PFAS in AFFF.


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