Making your environment a safer and cleaner place to live.
This issue we look at IEM, an environmental services company who at this year's Business Excellence Awards became the first winner of the TCCC's Green Award, given to a company, which demonstrates exemplary environmental practices, and a commitment to community environmental awareness. Partners Ron Livingston and Randy Shaw run IEM, and its mission is to provide the most appropriate management, technological and scientifically proven solutions to the field of natural resource and environmental management.
Ron, a resident of Thailand, is one of the most hard-working and visible TCCC members, and he has been mentioned many times in Voyageur. He has been a board member since 1997, vice-president since 1999, and a winner of the TCCC's 'Entrepreneur of the Year' in 1998. His partner, and IEM's Technical Director, Randy Shaw, however, is somewhat lesser known.
Randy grew up in Edmonton where he received a Bachelor's degree in zoology at the University of Alberta in 1981. He started his professional career with Alberta Environment, where his job duties included investigating the water quality of lakes and rivers in northern Alberta. He then won a post-graduate scholarship and returned to the University of Alberta, where in 1989 he finished a PhD studying the relationship between hydrogeology (water below the ground) and limnology (surface water), or more specifically how chemicals from the ground water seep into the surface water. During his PhD studies he also formed a company, which focused on water quality issues.
In 1991, Randy moved to Calgary to join a larger environmental called Environment Management Associates, which in turn a couple years later was bought by Golder Associates, an international engineering and environmental company. Randy started with Golder as a senior scientist and rose through the ranks to become a Principal of the company. But as time wore on, Randy became increasingly frustrated with what he saw as a huge amount of money being spent on relatively minor environmental issues in Canada. So when he heard that Golder was thinking of expanding to Thailand, he jumped at the chance and in 1997 he was posted here to start up BTG-Golder.
After building up a very successful operation here, Randy left Golder in late 2000 to join Ron Livingston as a Partner at IEM. Ron was one of the first people Randy had met when he started coming to Thailand, and it was natural for Randy to seek out Ron's advice as Ron had been running his own consultancy firm here for years - he knew the ins and outs of the business. Even though they were potential competitors, they quickly established a good relationship, and they soon even started working together on projects. And the first big project BTG-Golder took here was a joint venture with IEM, an Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) for Trans-Canada Pipelines.
As Ron and Randy are Partners they make all the decisions on projects, budgets, management, staff and resources together. And as Technical Director, Randy reviews all the technical aspects of projects and is active in the day-to-day management of projects as well.
A typical project that IEM works on is an EIA, which can take anywhere from a couple of months to a year to perform. Under Thai law, when certain types of projects like oil and gas developments, new industrial facilities, pipelines and major roads are undertaken an EIA is required. So the project manager hires a consultant that is approved by the Thai government to perform an EIA, and Randy and Ron are both designated by the Thai government as EIA experts. (The EIAs go through an approval process where after being completed they are checked by both a government agency and an independent body; and if the team putting together the EIA doesn't follow proper procedure they could be blacklisted from future projects). And when a project goes south, the consultants usually get blamed.
As a consultant, IEM tries to help developers build projects that minimize any negative impacts on the environment and to people living near the project. It also comes up with mitigation plans, which help minimize the negative aspects of a development and enhance the positive ones. It does this through experience, professional judgment and the scientific analysis of data collected for the project.
Basically IEM services multinational companies, the Thai government, Thai industry and international development organizations. Its work can be broken down into EIAs, onshore and offshore monitoring; socio-economic studies; audits (environmental, health and safety or compliance); ISO 14000 implementation; and environmental, health and safety training. Its onshore monitoring includes taking air, water and soil samples, while its offshore monitoring includes coral surveys, environmental reconnaissance, fish surveys and sediment sampling. And its socio-economic studies include attitude surveys, focus group discussions, community awareness programs and community involvement programs.
Here's where it gets somewhat confusing though. Ron and Randy don't just run IEM, they also run Redlog, a contracting company, which deals with clean up, risk assessment and soil remediation. And they run Oil Spill Response Thailand (OSRT), which serves Thailand's oil and gas industry, and is designed to minimize marine and coastal damage caused by oil spills. So they really have three major core businesses.
So IEM is Ron and Randy's environmental consulting arm in Asia. Right now it is working on projects in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Japan, and typically what it does is produce a report to help a client get a permit, or identify issues at one of their factories to minimize negative impacts.
Redlog focuses primarily on aquatic remediation technologies, so if there is site that has contaminated water, or contaminated sediment under the water, it has the technology to clean it up. One of the technologies Redlog employs is called in situ bio remediation technology (IBT). This is a Canadian technology developed by scientists at Environment Canada and exclusively licensed by Environment Canada for Redlog's use in Asia and the Middle East.
The technology is currently being used in Hong Kong in the Shing Mun River, where a chemical amendment is injected into the river sediments with the goal of reducing odors arising from hydrogen sulphate production. It's also been used to help clean up Hamilton Harbor and is being tested in Lake Biwa, Japan's largest freshwater lake, where it's being used to suppress phosphorous from sediments. In another site in the US it's been used to reduce the toxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are nasty organic chemicals. And in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, it's being studied as way to reduce concentrations of oil spilled on to beaches during the first Gulf War.
And ORST is a joint venture with a US-based oil spill response organization. It provides 24 hour a day emergency response support services to the offshore oil and gas industry here in Thailand. These services include oil spill response plans, modeling and response training, and equipment and logistic support to companies like Chevron and Unocal. And with funding from CIDA-INC, ORST is also working on a feasibility study to set up a similar program in Cambodia, called OSRC.
If there happened to be a major spill, OSRT would set up a command center at the company's headquarters and predict where the spill was going. Then it would start working on mitigation support as companies deemed responsible for spills tend to get sued by everyone for everything. So the OSRT would help mobilize people and equipment to clean up the spill. It also supports the company to protect it against liabilities by assessing and monitoring actual environmental impact. This is done by collecting video evidence, and taking water quality and sediment samples, and documenting any actual damage. The Thai government has adopted a methodology for costing impacts to the environment in these cases and the OSRT understands this methodology clearly and provides evidence on the side of the company to protect its interests.
IEM has also joined the Inogen Environmental Alliance, a new concept of global environmental delivery service. This allows it to remain a small business but access global markets, and get new types of jobs, with its Inogen partners.
And last but not least, the company runs the website www.environmentalthailand.com, which is still under development. It's an information portal for environmental issues, which provides free information and a membership component, which allows people access to environmental legislation, regulations and guidelines in Thailand as well as other environmental, health and safety management tools.
What sets IEM and its fellow companies apart is that they provide international quality services and they understand the local marketplace requirements as well as the local regulatory and cultural issues, which are so important in operating effectively in Thailand.
Ron and Randy and their crew have prepared health assessment guidelines for the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy for use in all new EIAs. They have also contributed to the environmental codes of practice for Thailand's upstream hydrocarbon industry. And for the Pollution Control Department, they have also developed a research program for the prevention and reduction of risk to human health and the environment.
They are constantly working on novel ways to deliver their services more efficiently. They help clients develop policy and strategy to better enable them to bring their projects forward.
Ed note: It should also be pointed that IEM has a very active internship program, and is currently working a with Memorial University in Newfoundland, whereby interns would come to work for IEM for a year to gain valuable experience, and in many cases once their internship is up, IEM offers them a job.
Ron Livingston & Randy Shaw
International Environmental Management (IEM) Co., Ltd.
2nd Floor, The Renaissance Building, 339 Soi Pipat
Silom Road, Bangrak, Bangkok, Thailand, 10500
Tel: (66) 02-231-5184-5, 636-6683-4
Fax: (66) 02-236-6276
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