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Steel Industry, Coal Industry, and the Cold Hard Reality

What is going on in the Steel Industry these days? It seems we have had some massive iron ore price spikes lately or is the market merely taking us back to where we should have been before the recession and prior to all that incredible consolidation we had a few years back now? Is it because the Global Economy is seeing new life, that large shipping companies are building more ships now, or China is cornering the market on steel and iron ore?

And why are we so darn hostile in the US towards coal mines with coking quality coal, such as those in West Virginia? With this latest coal mine disaster, we seem to be repeating the call for more regulations in the coal mining sector again. At a time when our US Steel industry just got a big break as China raised the price of steel. Why is the Administration, the environmentalists, and the labor unions all attacking our industrial base right now, this is the last thing we ought to do as our industrial base and manufacturing sector is digging itself out of a hard-hitting recession – I thought we wanted jobs?

Regarding the latest rounds of attacks on Steel Mills, well, yes if you are in the industry, I hear you, I just read an old article out of Scientific American today; “Steel Mini-Mills” May 1984 – and it’s not like we didn’t see any of this coming. We need steel for infrastructure projects, let’s make it here, let’s use our own iron ore and coking coal.

Now in the future, we will have new materials like carbon nano-tubes, etc, are 50 times stronger, and unbelievably light weight. But right now, let’s not be stupid with our policy or ram-rod our industrial base, that’s just suicide for our recovering economy right now. We should be working to get things rolling again, not trying to destroy what’s historically made this nation great.

When these new materials come online we can use them for nearly everything if we can do our own high-tech manufacturing without allowing those little nano-particles the ability to escape during the process. Still, we will need steel for some things, and remember WV needs to excavate some of that high-grade coal for the coking process.

If we lose all the steel plants, we also lose the WV, PA, coal mines (JOBS) and we will hurt our auto, heavy equipment, truck making, bridge building, construction, ship building sectors too. We are still a ways out of the carbon nano-tubes, but we are certainly getting there technologically speaking. Let’s not let liberal-socialist-environmental groups and petty politics stifle our growth and recovery. Seriously, let’s be smart about this.

You may email if you have a difference of opinion, but be prepared for an earful, and bring your best arguments, because I know what I am talking about, and I am not about to listen to nonsense on this issue, quite frankly – I really don’t care who you are. This country and our economy are more important than such shallow and petty arguments or talking points in this debate.

Basic Hand Signals In Crane Operation

Cranes are commonly used in the construction of towers and industry, and in manufacturing heavy equipments. Cranes ranges from small site crane to big cranes and deck cranes that lift heavy equipments. Basically, they are temporary structures in construction. They are either fixed on the ground or hoarded on a purpose-built vehicle. Cranes come in different types such as jib, gantry, ship and deck, bridge or overhead, boom, tower, and mobile or truck.

Before operating the crane, operators should carefully read and understand the operation manual from the crane manufacturer. Further, they must always note any instructions given by a reliable instructor or operator. It is also crucial for the crane operator to understand the consequences of careless operation of cranes. They must be instructed of the proper use, prohibition and the safety rules and regulation during the operation.

It is always the responsibility of the owner to make their personnel aware of all federal rules and codes so as to preclude violations along with their penalties. Employers must also make certain that their operators are properly trained and are equipped with the know-how. To be safe in the operation of crane, it requires skill and exercise of great care and ideal foresight, alertness and concentration. Also strict adherence to proven safety rules and practices is necessary.

The personnel who handle the operation of cranes in an area must utilize hand signals, if necessary, as their means of communication. Here are the most commonly used hand signals during crane lifting operation:

1. HOIST. Raise the forearm vertically and extend the right arm straight out with forefinger pointing up. Then, move hand in small horizontal circle.

2. LOWER. Forefinger pointing down and extend right arm downward then move hand in small horizontal circle.

3. STOP. Extend right arm down with wrist bent, palm down and open.

4 SWING. Right arm away from body, point with finger in direction of swing of boom.

5. RAISE BOOM. Fingers closed and thumb pointing upward while extending the right arm straight out.

6. LOWER BOOM. Fingers closed and thumb pointing downward while extending the right arm straight out.

7. BRIDGE TRAVEL. Extend the right arm forward, hand open and slightly raised and make pushing motion in direction of travel.

8. TROLLEY TRAVEL. Thumb pointing in direction of motion with palm up and fingers closed, jerk hand horizontally.

9. EMERGENCY STOP. Extend right arm, palm down and move hand rapidly left and right.

10. MULTIPLE TROLLEYS. For block marked 1. hold up one finger, and two fingers for block marked 2. Regular signals come next.

11. RAISE BOOM and LOWER LOAD. Right arm extended and thumb pointing up. Flex fingers in and out as long as load movement is needed.

12. LOWER BOOM and RAISE LOAD. Right arm extended and thumb pointing down. Flex fingers pointing in and out as long as load movement is needed.

13. DOG EVERYTHING. Hold hands in front of the body.

14. MOVE SLOWLY. One hand gives any motion signal while the other hand motionless in front of hand giving the motion signal.

15. MAGNET IS DISCONNECTED. Spread both hands.

When using these hand signals be sure that you and the crane operator are familiar with these signals. A wrong signal could cause a serious injury or worst – death.

Always stay alert when you are working in construction near any crane. If possible, avoid working under a moving load and stay clear of the counter balance. Always use your safety devices and helmet to avoid injuries. Safety is always the top priority of all workers and the crane operator.

California Car Wash Fundraisers and Environmental Law

Many non-profit groups are feeling upset that they are allowed to do car wash fundraisers in some California Cities. It is not that the government officials are against your groups raising money, it is that they worry where are the soapy dirty water is going. It is a problem and it might be good for you to understand some of the history behind the rules rather than get upset over it.

HISTORY

Well it all started many years ago when Congress passed the Federal Clean Water Act in 1972 during the Nixon Administration. This was in response to major pollution issues involving polluting the nation’s waterways from factories, strip mining and sewage treatment plants or lack thereof. It was actually quite a problem. It was an ecosystem disaster causing disease and death to wildlife and some people. When it was discovered just how bad the problem really was, the federal government empowered the states to take care of the issues within their state. The states enacted state laws to help fix the problem. Meanwhile, the federal government tightened standards forcing states to tighten their standards or be in violation. With the threat of withholding federal monies to the states, the states continued to make more and more laws. Industry obviously wasn’t happy and even government agencies were unable to comply with the laws they made. So, target dates were enacted to give time for everyone to comply. Overnight environmental consulting firms sprung up along with a whole new industry of environmental equipment and product manufactures, many of whom weren’t even in compliance themselves. Of course, all good things take time and cleaning up our water is obviously a good thing.

The State of California divided the state into nine different regions realizing that each region had different pollution problems based on industry types, demography and population in the areas. These regions were called ‘Regional Water Quality Control Districts’ (RWQCD). These were all controlled by the State Board that was defined by the Federal Clean Water Act as the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). Once the problem was broken down into smaller pieces things started to change for the better.

The SWRCB was formed in California and is commonly called ‘The State Board’. The State Board regulates Water Quality Control, which is any activity or factor that might affect the quality of waters of the state and includes the prevention and correction of water pollution and nuisance. This sounds very encompassing and the State Board has a lot of power. Luckily, with the combined efforts of industry, government and the people, they now understand the issues enough to make intelligent decisions and they fully understand that your organization needs to earn money. Thus, rather than prevent and outlaw activities, everyone is working on solutions and procedures to allow responsible discharges creating a win-win situation for everyone.

Recently, the State Water Quality Control Boards asked the counties to submit for approval and receive permits to discharge the same waters they’ve been discharging for years. These permits were called NPDES permits. This stands for National Pollution Discharge Elimination System. Most counties assigned an existing department to work on this permit. More likely than not, it is the county’s Flood Control Department. Unfortunately, this part of the county deals with permits for land development, bridges, infrastructures, etc. Until now, they knew very little about pollution. Some counties turned this responsibility over to the Environmental Health Services Department who in turn worked with the Flood Control Department which controls storm drains. The NPDES permits are approved by the state for local county urban runoff discharges. Each city in each county through municipal codes is supposed to pass ordinances and come up with a plan for controlling their local runoff/pollution. The county remains responsible to the state and the states to the Federal Government. The NPDES requirements are an offspring of the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency even though they are enforced, permitted and regulated locally by cities, counties and states.

The actual law that is used to enforce these statutes can be found in 13.260 – 13.265 of the California Water Code. At one point it actually reads:

“No person, or persons may discharge water to any waterways without permission or a permit from a state regional water quality control board.”

This sounds pretty absolute doesn’t it. It is against the law for you to take a glass of water from your sink, walk over to a storm drain and pour the water in the drain. This in itself would obviously not hurt the environment, but by granting absolute power the Regional Water Quality Control Boards can look at everything on a case-by-case basis. So do be serious about your water after you wash those cars.

STORM WATER DISCHARGE

City, county and state governments know that car washing has always been a favorite fundraiser for sports teams, scout troops, schools and other non-profit groups. Due to the low capital investment costs, car wash fundraisers can generate significant amounts of profit. For the last ten years government agencies especially in California have been working with industry to come up with solutions to clean up our water. Today the waterways of America are significantly cleaner than they were in the past even though many regions are more heavily populated. It’s been working great. Now we are going one step further. No pollution from any source, even mobile dog groomers. Only in the last few years have government agencies decided that the adverse environmental impact is too great to allow car wash fundraisers. Along with strong lobbying from fixed site car wash owners, some cities and counties have actually outlawed these fundraisers unless certain procedures are followed to insure that no waste wash water enters storm drains, ditches or waterways.

Their reasoning is this: Dirty water containing soaps and detergents, residues from exhaust fumes, gasoline and motor oils is washed off of the cars and flows into nearby storm drains. Unlike the water we use in our homes and businesses that goes down the drain and is treated at sewer treatment plants, water that goes into storm drains flows directly into rivers, bays, oceans and lakes without any kind of treatment. Obviously one car wash fundraiser by itself will create little if any adverse environmental impact. But government agencies know that collectively car wash fundraisers contribute significant pollution.

They also realize that biodegradable soaps do not lessen the impact. This is because biodegradable only means that the soap will degrade over time. So does plutonium, it just takes longer. Soaps and car wash products are still toxic to aquatic life even if they are biodegradable. Think on this a bit. If you really want to have the city allow you to do a car wash fundraiser you are going to have to figure out how to keep the dirty soapy water out of the storm drain.