Pollution Prevention

What is Pollution Prevention?

Pollution prevention is the use of materials, processes, or practices that reduce or eliminate the creation of pollutants at their source. This includes: equipment process or procedure modifications, reformulation or redesign of products, substitution of raw materials, and improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training, or inventory control that result in reduced waste generation. Even though recycling, energy recovery, treatment, and disposal are not included in this definition, some forms of "in-process" recycling may qualify as pollution prevention.

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How was the Pollution Prevention Program created?

In September of 1991, the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) received a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to initiate a technical assistance pollution prevention program within its servicing districts. The goal of the NBC's Pollution Prevention Program is to assist the industrial community in eliminating pollution through the use of source reduction techniques and technologies.

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How does the program help industry?

Pollution prevention assistance can range form supplying information about vendors of a particular chemical or piece of equipment to conducting a detailed on-site waste reduction assessment of an industrial facility. During waste reduction assessments, the pollution prevention team look to source reduction and pollutant elimination as the primary methods for reducing waste generation and the need for waste disposal. Particular attention is focused on waste stream segregation and water conservation. By incorporating simple conservation techniques like water recycling, significant cost savings can be achieved over a short period of time. In many assessments, it is determined that hazardous materials can be easily replaced by less or non-hazardous substitutes.

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Finding New Opportunities to Save Money

A preventive approach to addressing environmental problems and concerns has many advantages over conventional waste management and pretreatment methods. Savings can be realized through reduced permit fees, treatment chemical purchases, waste disposal costs, adn regulatory compliance costs. In some cases, the use of pollution prevention methods and technologies have resulted in complete elimination of a particular waste stream and/or zero discharge of process wastewater.

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Confidentiality in the Program

Participants can be assured that all information shared with NBC's Pollution Prevention staff will remain confidential and no regulatory repercussions will occur from participation in the program. To assure confidentiality, NBC's Pollution Prevention information files are not available to NBC's regulatory staff or the public. Although regulatory requirements are taken into consideration when making recommendations to a company, no attempt at assessing a company's regulatory compliance status is made during waste reduction assessments or facility site visits.

New Developments in the Program

Regulatory Relief Program for Business and Industry
In October 1996, the NBC received a grant form the US EPA for the establishment of a Regulatory Relief Program for NBC's industrial users. The program offers assistance through the use of combined regulatory and pollution prevention audits. A team composed of Pollution Prevention staff and Pretreatment staff visit with the participating companies and work with them to address environmental regulatory issues in a non-regulatory, non-threatening manner. The program is designed to help the industrial community address their concern that ordinarily would be avoided due to enforcement repercussions.

Industrial Training Program

In October 1995, the NBC received a grant from the US EPA to develop a training program to educate the industrial community on pollution prevention and wastewater pretreatment techniques and practices. The NBC has found that many of its regulated companies have invested considerable amounts of money on specialized equipment for the pretreatment techniques and practices. The NBC has responded to this need for training by working with the Community College of Rhode Island, the RI Department of Environmental Management and local environmental consultants to develop a curriculum that began in the fall of 1996. As the only program of its kind offered within Rhode Island, this training program will help improve industry compliance with sewer use regulations.

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In 2000, the US EPA chose the NBC as only one of five publicly owned treatment works nationwide to take place in an innovative program 

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Who to Call

For more information on NBC's Pollution Prevention Program, contact Mr. James McCaughey, P.E., Pollution Prevention Manager at (401) 461-8848

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