Thursday, May 16, 2013

AAR confers environmental stewardship awards

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Rick McNey, CSX Transportation Rick McNey, CSX Transportation
The Association of American Railroads on May 15 presented Rick McNey, a CSX Transportation employee from Baltimore, Md., with the 2013 John H. Chafee Environmental Excellence Award, and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) with the 2013 John H. Chafee Congressional Environmental Award.

CSX’s McNey, in his role as manager of maintenance at the Curtis Bay Pier in Baltimore, Md., “ensures that every federally imposed environmental standard is met, upholding a perfect record of compliance for the past 10 years,” AAR noted. “In addition to general compliance with the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, McNey finds innovative new ways to help reduce the railroad’s environmental footprint. Under his leadership at the Curtis Bay Pier facility, water consumption was reduced by 40%, which amounts to 108,000 gallons per day, through a storm water management rain harvesting system. He also implemented a project to upgrade lighting systems at his facility by installing energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) bulbs, reducing energy consumption by more than 40%. With a keen eye toward his facility’s waste management, McNey implemented a program to reuse thousands of gallons of oil reclaimed at the facility in an oil burning heater that provides heating for his machine shop. His facility recycles approximately 4,000 cubic yards of metal, 10,000 gallons of used oil, and 100 large capacity batteries on an annual basis. McNey not only participates in annual environmental training, but also ensures all of his staff receives environmental training as well.”

bill nelsonIn his home state of Florida, Sen. Nelson “has worked with ongoing Everglades restoration efforts and tackled issues surrounding the public health effects of pollutants,” AAR said. “In Washington, he has worked with colleagues to pass the RESTORE Act, directing BP Oil fines be allocated to communities most harmed by the Gulf oil spill. Through the U.S. Department of the Interior, Sen. Nelson has worked to institute a ban on the sale and importation of Burmese pythons and other non-native snakes that destroy the Everglades ecosystem. He also has worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the wood-preserving industry to address concerns about the health risks of arsenic in residential wood.”

In addition to McNey, six other railroaders were nominated for the 2013 John H. Chafee Award:

Ben Crandall, Union Pacific

Ben Crandall UP 2013 award candidate photoCrandall is a foreman general from Draper, Utah, who has worked for Union Pacific for 35 years. Crandall’s main environmental focuses have been on energy, water, and waste. In an attempt to better understand UP’s energy usage, Crandall suggested an energy management position be created. Under Crandall’s mentoring, this employee has implemented changes that have the potential to save $1.7 million and 32 million kilowatt hours annually. In an effort to eliminate waste, Crandall is also working with various UP departments to design a locomotive filter shredder and crusher that will increase efficiencies, lessen environmental impacts, and lower costs..

Johnny Glenn, CN

johnny glenn cn 2013 award candidate photoGlenn is an assistant regional chief engineer who has been with CN for 37 years. He has motivated and inspired his coworkers to be more environmentally friendly in their daily activities. Glenn has been the force behind a clean right-of-way program, called The Golden Broom. This program was implemented to promote good housekeeping practices across the engineering department. The program reduces waste, creates better management, and a safer work environment. An example of this effort is the disposal of glue used with tie plates. Glenn reviewed the waste generated from the disposal of glue, and found that excess glue was purchased and not being used. Glenn also educated his coworkers about the values of recycling and reducing waste. Through this effort, Glenn saved the company $165,000 per year by recycling items that would have otherwise gone to a landfill.

Ray Jones, Norfolk Southern

ray a jones - ns 2013 award candidate photoJones, from Chesapeake, Va., has worked with Norfolk Southern for 32 years. As an assistant division manager of mechanical operations, he has continued to find ways to support the restoration of the Elizabeth River and Chesapeake Bay. He worked with the Elizabeth River Project and the Virginia Oyster Restoration Center to install concrete “reef balls” off the coral pier in Norfolk, Va. to establish a new oyster hatchery. Jones has also been instrumental in a project to reclaim and reuse storm water at the NS terminal’s coal pier for dust control and equipment washing, to improve the recovery of coal dust in storm water runoff, and reduce the volume of water purchased from the municipal’s water supply. He coordinated an effort with the NS environmental department to develop a plan to significantly improve the existing storm water system. This project saves up to 18.3 million gallons of water and $100,000 to purchase water annually.

Ross Thomas, BNSF

ross thomas bnsf 2013 award candidate photoThomas, from Edgerton, Kan., is a manager of engineering for BNSF Railway. During his 32 years in the industry, Thomas has led many different initiatives from testing soil to relocating ponds. While working on the reconstruction of Argentine Hump Yard and North Kansas City Murray Yard, Thomas was instrumental in the testing of hundreds of thousands of yards of soil to determine the suitability of reusing the material. By developing a methodology to reduce the testing timeframe, Thomas was able to create a sustainable solution by recycling more than 60,000 cubic yards of soil, saving time and expenses. During construction of a conservation corridor at the Logistics Park Kansas City Facility, Thomas’s input was essential in relocating ponds, the plugging and abandoning of wells in the area, as well as ensuring proper relocation and construction of new wetlands. The corridor included 30 acres of wetland plantings and 25 acres of stream plantings, both consisting of 15,000 live willows, 16,400 trees and shrubs, 140,000 live branches planted, removal of all noxious invasive weeds and replanting of natural grasses within the entire corridor. Thomas also reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers to have four major bridges constructed over streams. He inspected the construction of the bridges to guaranty the waters were protected. Thomas continued his worked with the Army Corps of Engineers by planting 15 acres of wetlands in Illinois.

Renee Strolis, Amtrak

renee strolis amtrak 2013 award candidate photoStrolis is from Philadelphia, Pa., and has worked for Amtrak for 36 years. As a director of fuel management, Strolis has continuously strived to improve fuel efficiency and protect the environment. She has been the driving force behind ensuring Amtrak meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental and fuel performance standards. Plus, she goes above and beyond her professional duties to collaborate with others to implement climate programs, training, and communications to raise environmental awareness among her coworkers. Through her position, Strolis has worked to identify and implement fuel conservation initiatives, including idling reduction measures as well as train handling, braking, and other measures to reduce fuel use and Amtrak’s environmental footprint. Strolis has also been vital to a yearlong trial, evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of using alternative fuel, such as biodiesel. This trial was implemented successfully and received national attention.

Steve Grant, Canadian Pacific

steve grant cp 2013 award candidate photoGrant is a director of transload services for Canadian Pacific, and has been in the railroad industry for 14 years. With the recent increase in crude oil shipments by rail, Grant has excelled in ensuring the transloading facilities are built in an environmentally safe way. He coordinates between his coworkers and CP’s external partners during the risk assessment process to address all potential environmental issues. Working with various departments, he looks for an appropriate site for a transload facility, taking into account aspects such as odor, noise, and potential impact on the surrounding communities. Grant also communicates with local fire officials, municipal officials, and members of the public to inform them of the proposed construction and the actions being taken to address the possible impact on the environment and public safety. Not only does Grant consider these potential risks, but he also strives to help the transloading operations become more environmentally friendly.

“Railroads every day strive to make this industry more environmentally friendly, and this is evident in their employees who take innovative approaches to being excellent stewards of our nation’s environment,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Both Senator Nelson and Rick McNey from CSX embody the dedication necessary to ensuring our environment is protected and preserved for generations to come. ”

The annual environmental stewardship awards are named for the late Rhode Island Senator, “who was a strong advocate for conservation and environmental causes and appreciated the environmental advantages of rail transportation,” AAR said. “Each year the AAR recognizes a Member of Congress and a railroad employee who have demonstrated the highest level of environmental stewardship.”