Saturday, June 21, 2008

This morning we met with David King, Director of the EPA Field Office in Hudson Falls, NY. He provided a fantastic and comprehensive overview of the PCB clean-up that is taking place on the Hudson River. There will be 40 miles of the river being dredged. Not all of the river will be dredged, just the hot spots. The main areas will be the first six miles from Hudson Falls south.

The major activities currently taking place are the construction of the water treatment facility, wharf, train tracks, and other areas needed to unload the barges of PCB containing materials. The dredging will not happen until next year. After the PCBs are removed, a foot of new materials will be put back into the river to help rehabilitate the river. For more information on the PCB cleanup, go to the US EPA website ( There are some excellent resources available.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It was pouring rain when I woke up this morning. I was hoping we would get a break so that we would have a dry period for our mine tour. At checkout of the hotel, I said the rain would stop in 26 minutes – it stopped in 24! We had perfect weather as we went to LAB Chrysotile asbestos mine. We took a bus ride to the bottom of the mine. The mine is 1200 feet deep. It is the only active mine in Quebec. This mine started mining in 1958. Workers were using the machinery to remove rock from the mine and load onto the dump trucks. The tires on the dump trucks cost over $16,000 each. All the buildings on site are made from asbestos concrete.

The Safety and Health Director and the Environmental Director met us and answered questions that we had. The workers are tested for asbestos exposure, and each job type is tested at least once per year. They say major exposure to the workers is noise. Also they have back injuries from lifting the heavy bags of asbestos (they are 50 kg per bag). Workers receive a chest x-ray every two years and their hearing is tested every five years. Exposure levels in the mill are below the Quebec Province requirements of 1 fiber per cubic centimeter.

Around the cities of Thetford Mines and Black Lake are large tailing piles. These are the waste rock and rock containing too little asbestos to be worth crushing and milling. The tailings contain approximately 0.5% asbestos. LAB Chrysotile does asbestos sampling in the

community and has found the background levels to be the same as Sherbrooke and Montreal.

We are now in Glens Falls, NY and will visit with the US EPA Field Office to learn about the PCB Clean-up on the Hudson River. Then back home!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Today we woke up in Montpelier, Vermont. We drove a few miles to Barre, VT to visit the Rock of Ages Granite Quarry. The Rock of Ages Quarry was founded in 1885 (name was changed to Rock of Ages in 1925). The Quarry is 600 feet deep, and is the largest deep hole dimensional quarry in the US. They produce gray granite, and their primary business is memorials (head stones, mausoleums, etc.)

We visited the quarry and saw how they cut the granite to remove it from the quarry. Silicosis was a major problem years ago, but now has been controlled. Other issues include noise, blasting, cutting, and crushed by objects injuries.

After the quarry, we said goodbye to Jack. He needed to get back to New York. We dropped him off in the Montpelier Bus Station. Almost as grand as Grand Central Station in NY or Union Station in DC (ok, it is a double-wide trailer).

After that, we went to Ben and Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, VT. We were not able to meet with the Safety Director, but took the factory tour that is available to the general public. You do not get to see very much, but you get a taste of free ice cream at the end. Then we ate Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for lunch.

The trip to Thetford Mines, Quebec is a gorgeous ride through northern Vermont and Quebec. The scenery is beautiful, the mountains, lakes, rivers, and farms are very picturesque. While I was looking at the scenery, the Perfect Storm was playing on the bus DVD player. The information we learned yesterday in New Bedford was played out in the movie, so it was very appropriate to see. (I will have to see it another time.)

Tonight we are in Thetford Mines, Quebec. Looking forward to visiting the asbestos mine tomorrow.

Here are some pictures from today (click on the picture to enarge).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Today we devoted the day to fishing vessel safety. We were met by Ted Harrington and Kevin Coyle from the US Coast Guard. Ted presented an overview of the safety issues involved with the commercial fishing industry. A video he showed identified some of the issues the Coast Guard faces when rescuing commercial fishing vessels that are in distress.

We then went onto two commercial fishing vessels. The first is used for scallops and the second for fish. The safety features were explained to us, including the requirements for life boats, emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), and immersion suits. I was able to get into one of those suits.

We had a great lunch just off the docks in a place named Knuckleheads. Then on to Vermont...

(Click on photos to enlarge).

Monday, June 16, 2008

Today we met at Hunter College to start our tour. We drove to Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton, RI. Sakonnet Vineyards was founded in 1975 “on the well-researched premise that the microclimate and soil conditions found along the Southeastern New England coast closely resemble some of the great wine regions of the world, particularly, the maritime climates of northern France.”

At the vineyard, we learned the process in which wine is made, and looked at some of the health and safety issues in winemaking. These include ergonomics issues in pruning the vines, confined space entry into the vats in which the wine is stored and pesticides used on the vines.

Then onto New Bedford, MA. Dinner at Davy's Locker.

Here are some pictures from the day (click on picture to enlarge).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ERC Tour, June 16-20, 2008

The Historical Perspectives on Occupational Safety and Health Tour was developed as an inter-disciplinary education program for students in the NY and NJ Education and Research Center. The NYNJERC was established in 1978 with funding by NIOSH. Our mission is to provide graduate and continuing education in industrial hygiene, occupational safety, occupational medicine, and occupational health nursing. More information on our Center is at

The Historical Perspectives on Occupational Safety and Health Tour is a graduate level course that provides students with practical information on occupational safety and health. By visiting the sites, and by seeing what takes place, students are better able to understand the health and safety issues that workers face. When they graduate and are in practice, they are better prepared to design and implement workplace controls to reduce worker exposure to hazards.

Here is our tour agenda:

June 16 - Sakonnet Vineyards
Little Compton, RI

June 17 - US Coast Guard, Maritime and Fishing Safety
New Bedford, MA

June 18 - Granite Quarry
Barre, VT

June 19 - Asbestos Mine
Thetford Mines, Quebec

June 20 - PCB Clean-up
Glens Falls, NY