ALTAMONTE SPRINGS - 06/21/2019 (PRESS RELEASE JET)
A Florida cleantech startup company is seeking to utilize innovative environmental technology licensed for use by NASA for the continued Hudson River PCB cleanup.
Orlando-based cleantech venture, ecoSPEARS, was co-founded in 2017 by Ian Doromal and Sergie Albino, a former NASA engineer, and is the exclusive licensee of the NASA-developed Sorbent Polymer Extraction And Remediation System (SPEARS) technology. SPEARS, an in-situ green remediation system, can be placed into sediments in waterways contaminated by legacy toxins known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). SPEARS passively absorbs contaminants “like a sponge,” which can expedite the removal of harmful PCB contaminants from challenging and sensitive wetland areas in contaminated sites, such as those found along Hudson River in New York.
SPEARS is a series of plastic spikes inserted into a geosynthetic mat liner which is then pressed into the riverbed sediment. SPEARS absorbs contaminants like PCBs, dioxins and chlorinated pesticides, trapping the toxic pollutants within the interior of the SPEARS where they can no longer pose a threat to the aquatic ecosystem. Once SPEARS have absorbed the PCBs and achieved site remedial goals, the company uses another technology to destroy the PCBs at the molecular level — a green chemical process that uses considerably less water and energy while reducing up to 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, as compared to dumping contaminated sediment into a landfill or burning them in an incinerator. In 2002, General Electric (GE) agreed to a seven-year, $1.7 billion cleanup of a 40-mile stretch along the upper Hudson River with the Environmental Protection Agency after polluting the waterway with PCBs for decades. Unfortunately for General Electric, Dr. Jackie Quinn, an award-winning environmental scientist from NASA-KSC, did not invent SPEARS until 2012.
After the project’s completion in 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said GE's dredging project still left behind too many toxic PCBs to ensure the health of the Hudson River as well as surrounding wildlife and communities. The state later sued the EPA after the agency declared GE's cleanup agreement met satisfactory goals this past April. The cleanup removed about 310,000 pounds of the PCB impacted sediment, or 72 percent of the total amount of PCBs currently known to persist in the river. ecoSPEARS' solution will be less costly and destructive to the environment than the dredging processes that GE was forced to implement during their mandatory cleanup of the Hudson.
"Today's science and technology can solve the issue. Yes, it's difficult, and you guys have tried all you can," Albino said, referring to companies like GE that have been tasked with cleaning the river. "But you cannot keep trying the same old methods while expecting different results." Albino said ecoSPEARS first-step would be to perform a "Treatability Study" where sediment would be collected from the Hudson. The study would prove the efficacy of the technology to extract PCB from the river sediment.
The next step would be a Pilot Demonstration, where ecoSPEARS would begin deploying the spear mats on between 100 and 1,000 square feet of riverbed at a pre-determined location along the river, with guidance and oversight from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
According to Ian Doromal, co-founder and executive vice president of ecoSPEARS, the company plans to share results of the different tests along the way, to prove SPEARS is a viable solution to PCB contaminated sediment. "Of course, it's not going to be an overnight thing, or even a 12-month thing. From what we’ve previously seen, remediation can extend years," Doromal said of the cleanup efforts. "The main goal is to finally have a technology that not only works, but is cost-effective and protective of human health and the environment.”
Doromal added, ”It’s also about giving the community more of a say by showing them that innovative technologies exist today. It’s time to fix these persistent contamination issues, once and for all.” "It's all about impact," Albino said. "This project we're looking to spearhead at the Hudson River will be able to extract the PCBs that have been left there for decades. We can finally give the Hudson River communities a second-chance at life."
ecoSPEARS is a cleantech venture committed to green, sustainable remediation technologies for the permanent extraction and destruction of PCBs, dioxins, and other toxic chlorinated contaminants from the environment – forever. Our mission is to utilize innovative and green solutions that are protect human health, wildlife, and the environment.
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