By Guest Blogger Serenity Skillman
I graduated from Michigan State University in May of 2018 with a degree in Biosystems and Agriculture Engineering. I am an Engineer in Training (meaning I successfully passed the Fundamentals of Engineering exam) and am working on getting my Professional Engineer license. When I graduated, I wanted to find a job where I felt I was doing something to help the environment and create a better place to live in the community, which I have found working for Granger. I am from Ocala, Florida, but I have found my home in Lansing.
My job title is environmental compliance specialist. My main duties include waste acceptance reviews, environmental monitoring and reporting and assisting with other projects within our Engineering Department.
If you have read some of Granger’s blog posts, you know that some things are not allowed to be put in the trash. Part of my job is to make sure we are following all the rules and not taking any trash that is hazardous or not allowed in the landfill. For customers with large projects or industrial customers, we may need lab data to confirm the waste is acceptable for disposal. My job is to review the waste and its data to make sure it is okay for us take.
Once a week, I perform a random load inspection. I go to the active area of the landfill, pick a truck at random and inspect what is inside the load. When I do this, I look for any hazardous or prohibited waste. If any is found, the prohibited waste is removed and disposed of correctly. The random load inspection is one way we make sure we are being good stewards of the environment.
Our landfills are regulated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). As such, we monitor our groundwater, air and leachate (rainwater that goes through the landfill) closely to make sure we are not impacting the environment. While a third party takes our ground water samples and does a lab analysis on it, I compile the results and verify that everything is working the way it is supposed to and that there is no adverse impact from the operation of the landfill. I also report our findings to MDEQ four times a year.
Another form of monitoring that I do is storm water monitoring. To manage storm water and reduce flooding, ponds (also known as retention basins), are constructed around the landfill. Every month, I visually inspect the storm water conveyances and detention structures (ponds) and every three months, we take a sample of the water. This monitoring ensures that we are not doing anything to disturb the environment. These inspections also include looking at our in-house repair shop to make sure the chemicals we store are in the right place and there aren’t any leaks coming from the containers.
Assisting with Other Projects
I work within the Engineering Department at Granger, so I also assist with larger projects within the company. For example, we have gas collections systems at our landfills which are always expanding. This system includes a network of wells that capture the gas and use it to power engines that create electricity. I assisted other engineers in the department with the design of the new wells we installed last December.
At the landfill, there is always construction going on. Whenever there needs to be more hands-on deck for a project, I am there to help.