Rusty old leaking drum of Caustic Soda Sludge in Charleston, SC waiting to get overpacked for transport and disposal.

Rusty old leaking drum of Caustic Soda Sludge in Charleston, SC waiting to get overpacked for transport and disposal.

I am a Shepherd, literally and figuratively. I tend to my small herd of milk goats here in New Mexico. I also shepherd my clients through the Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) regulations to which their business operations are subject. There was only one goal I had in mind when I started Echelon Environmental: To help businesses deal with the burden of the many EHS mandates,because people start companies to make money, not to become regulatory experts.

A long time ago, I realized that all I have ever done in the Environmental Services Industry is to help other people manage their problems. This is a profession that I would not trade for anything. I love helping others find solutions to their hazards waste ordeals, employee training and workplace safety drama, and their hazardous material transport dilemmas.

My story – Where I came from

Sampling the water phase of a radioactive PCB waste.

Sampling the water phase of a radioactive PCB waste.

Growing up near Boston had its advantages: Good schools, museums, being near the beach, and playing hockey.  My Dad taught me early to work hard, to do what I was told, and to push myself with everything I had in everything I did.  I listened to him and it turned out well.

My Story – Who I am

Nasty looking unknown chemical at an old university

Nasty looking unknown chemical at an old university

I have been many things in my life.  At one point or another I have been:

  • An Astronomer – From an early age I had a 4 inch refracting telescope and would spend whole nights outside gazing at the heavens.
  • A Hockey Star – At my first tryout when I was 11 years old I volunteered to be a goalie because I couldn’t skate.  By the time I finished high school I was good.  Very good.  Boston College wanted me to play for them, but i wanted to get a degree in chemical engineering and BC didn’t offer that.
  • An Ichthyologist – My mother worked at an aquarium store and I picked up that hobby quickly, to the point that aquariums filled the basement of the house.  Fish are fascinating.
  • A Rock Star – Give me a guitar and I could make some noise.
  • A Hermit – Some of my most delightful times were during my quiet visits to the beaches, mountains and the wilderness.
  • An Experimental Musician – Growing weary of pop music, I delved into the world of anti-music, being particularly fond of the subsonic sounds that surround us every day.
  • A Herdsman – Spending 4 years with a herd of 100 goats taught me that being a shepherd is my second calling in life.
  • A Poet – Sometimes, early in the morning, they just come to me, like this one:

The moon came through my window last night, And tapped me on the shoulder. Why are you asleep, young man? Shouldn’t you be bolder? For even though the day was long, And tomorrow’s promise longer, The work you do and struggles face, Will only make you stronger. Look at me, said Mr. Moon, Though all around me blackness I still have to shine the more, With no excuse for slackness. But, was my reply to Moon, Your light is just reflection. And we only see the shine, When facing your direction. Not so, said Moon, to my surprise, That light is purely mine. I only borrow from the sun, To return it more sublime.

My Story – My Career

Me in the dock office at Clean Harbors of Braintree circa 1986.

Me in the dock office at Clean Harbors of Braintree circa 1986.

I got started in the hazardous waste business completely by accident. 1984 was not a good time to be looking for a job in Boston. After finishing college, I spent 3 months looking for a job, even working at Burger King to make some gas money. Then one day, I drove past the hazardous waste facility in the neighboring town. Looking at the sign, I said to myself, “Why not?” I went in and dropped off my resume. They called me back for an interview that afternoon. I started work the next day and I have never wanted to do anything else. Over the following 30 years I’ve had extensive experience in the Environmental Service Industry. To quickly summarize:

  • I have worked in four hazardous waste facilities at various levels from QC Chemist on the docks to Facility Manager.
  • I have personally handled more than 400,000 drums of hazardous waste.
  • I have reviewed or produced more than 10,000 hazardous waste manifests.
  • I was responsible for around $1M per month in billing reports at a major hazardous waste facility at the age of 26.
  • I have handled almost every chemical under the sun.
  • I have characterized and packaged thousands of unknown chemicals for disposal.
  • I have cleaned up hundreds of drug labs and responded to hundreds of chemical spills.
  • I have been in thousands of businesses and facilities to perform a wide variety of services.
  • I have worked at waste facilities, performed various services at customer sites, and worked as a radioactive and hazardous waste generator.

So, as you can see, I’ve worked every angle possible in this business with the exception of being on the regulatory side of the equation.

My Business Mission

Transferring paint into drums from a leaking tote.

Transferring paint into drums from a leaking tote.

My job is to help business owners and managers deal with the numerous regulations governing the environmental and safety aspects of their operations. I have been in thousands of businesses over the years and I have concluded that almost everyone wants to do the right thing. They want to keep their employees safe. They want to keep their wastes out of the environment. They want to protect the public from the hazardous materials they ship over the roads. But there are a few problems:

  • The rules that govern these tasks can be tediously complex.
  • Businesses are started to make money, not to produce regulatory experts.
  • Most companies cannot justify hiring full-time EHS people, so the task is given to someone who already has two or three other hats to wear.

My goal is to provide a way for businesses to properly manage their responsibilities by:

  • Analyzing their operations in respect to regulatory mandates.
  • Determining the proper application of the rules.
  • Setting realistic objectives and
  • Providing the tools to reach those objectives.

I encourage my clients to go beyond “compliance” and invest in their employees by providing them top notch training because compliance with the regulations is not just an issue of reducing liability, it is about business continuity.

My Personal Mission

There are some things I want to do.

Kid goat in a bucket

Kid in a bucket. Only a few hours old, getting weighed.

First, I want to have a goat farm. I spent 9 years living at a family farm where we grew almost everything we needed for food. It was a truly wonderful place. One day, I was told that I had been selected to be in charge of our herd of goats. It was December, right in the middle of the kidding season and I knew absolutely nothing about goats. Over the following weeks, i would often find myself covered in amniotic fluid and blood and crap as I helped deliver about 50 baby goats, sometimes with 2 or 3 does giving birth per day. Every morning and every evening I was milking about 25 goats. I loved it and I really feel that being a shepherd over a herd of goats is my second calling. Unfortunately, I was dismissed from the farm, but I hope to have another soon.

Second, I want to help Africa. In my book, “The Failure of Compliance”, I describe how many nations in Africa are developing their industrial potential, but they are making the same mistakes that the America made from the 1930’s through to 1970. There is no reason for the men and women there to suffer, personally and environmentally, like we have. I want to find a way for the companies in Africa to leapfrog over that dismal industrial period and save their people and land from the suffering that will result if they do not.

[su_note note_color=”#fbfbf6″]Ron Harvey Echelon Environmental Phone:  443-REAL-EHS (443_732_5347) [/su_note]