Rags to Remediation is a content series written by PennJersey founder Richard J. Katz, LSRP, who brings forty-seven years of professional environmental services experience, outlining the rich history of PennJersey Environmental Consulting’s influence in the creation of environmental remediation services as they have come to be known today.
For the first part of this story—it seems only logical to start at the first part—I began attending Rutgers University in (and it pains me to admit this) 1964. At this time environmental remediation services were few and far between.
When I went to college as an electrical engineering student, enrolled in the University’s ROTC program, I realized fairly quickly that electrical engineering wasn’t a good fit for me. Meteorology was an in-demand profession for the Air Force at the time, making it a good decision to pursue environmental sciences and a career as a military officer. I worked my way through college (yes, that was something you actually could do back then, don’t get smart about the whole age thing) with multiple jobs including bussing tables, pumping gas and working in Revlon’s mailroom and billing office. By my senior year of undergraduate studies I had saved enough money to finish school and moved on to an interim job as a shipping clerk while waiting to start my military time
In the midst of the Vietnam War and the Russian Space Race, I went on active duty at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. During my time at Wright-Pat as the Technical Monitor for Pollution, I witnessed the passing of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1969, which led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, among other groups. My duties at Wright-Patterson were actually very much aligned with site remediation, as I was responsible for making safety recommendations on the use of potentially hazardous materials like jet fuel, solvents, construction debris and other general wastes on-base.
This work led to my peripheral involvement with the review and validation of the St. Louis Dispersion Study that sought to develop real-time data on meteorological phenomena. The study assessed if equations correctly predict the transport of atmospheric pollution… incredibly interesting stuff, I know. This also involved assessment of the efficacy of the Bible of Air Pollution predictions at the time, Turner’s Workbook of Atmospheric Dispersion Estimates. This experience was invaluable and correlates in an interesting fashion to compliance guidelines used throughout the DEP today when delineating environmental impacts.
After the completion of my Air Force tour of duty, there was the need for some decompression time, which I used to work as a semi-professional carpenter, following a long-standing passion for woodworking. My son assures me this is an interesting tidbit, although not extraordinarily pertinent. Shortly after my carpentry phase I went to work full-time for the NJDEP’s Bureau of Air Pollution Control. This is where we see a real concern for setting environmental safety standards. At the Bureau, we wrote an initial State Implementation Plan for monitoring and regulating air pollution. During this period, I earned my Master of Science degree in Environmental Sciences and was the on-air Broadcast Meteorologist on the New Jersey Public Television Network.
While doing the weather I was seen by a talent scout from the ABC affiliate network in Austin, Texas, KVUE…
– Richard J. Katz, LSRP
Mr. Katz has a Master of Science in Environmental Science from Rutgers University and over 40 years of experience in the environmental field, acquired in the governmental, consulting and private sectors. Before that, however, he was an Air Force Officer, professional carpenter, and yes, even a weatherman in Austin, Texas. His accomplishments in the environmental field, however, outreach those by hundreds of miles. Under Mr. Katz, PennJersey was a charter member of the LSP Coalition that participated in crafting the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA). Mr. Katz was in the first group to be certified as a Licensed Site Remediation Professional and served on the Executive Committee of the LSRP Association Board of Trustees as the Board Secretary. Mr. Katz is now semi-retired, but is available to consult on matters as needed.