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What's Up in the Environment?

Ken Pantuck
   Raw sewage flows by underground pipes to a municipal wastewater treatment plant where it undergoes physical and biological changes to produce clean water and sludge. While the water flows back into a local river or bay, the sludge--the solids that are removed in the wastewater process--is processed and changed into "biosolids," which people can use as fertilizer or soil amendment. Sludge specialists research and develop ways to use these biosolids in an environmentally friendly way.

   Recently, I worked with a team of dedicated American and Polish scientists to revegetate barren, toxic, smelter waste piles that dotted the Upper Silesia mining region of Poland. Using biosolids, we were able to grow grass on these sites, which prevented hazardous metal dust from blowing into the air and harming local residents. As a result, wildlife has returned to these areas and local families can picnic on the land that was formerly polluted.

  I think that almost everyone is concerned about his or her immediate environment. City-dwellers may worry about car exhaust or factory emissions while rural people worry about the safety of well-water or the use of pesticides in farming. My concerns about the local environment led me to a career with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

   I personally manage the disbursal of millions of dollars in federal funds for the construction of water and wastewater facilities in the Washington, DC area. These facilities have helped restore the Potomac River to health, allowing it to support a variety of fish and bird life, including the nearly extinct Bald Eagle. It is important that we all share a concern for protecting America's environment and the health of its citizens.

Ken Pantuck:    
7:00 AM Arrive at office. Review and respond to e-mails.

7:30 AM Review plans and specifications for new wastewater facility.

9:30 AM Telephone engineering firm to discuss my review of its design.

10:00 AM Attend staff meeting. and mail.

10:45 AM Discuss biosolids with a citizen who telephones.

11:15 AM Discuss new biosolids test results and sites with a fellow researcher.

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM Respond to letters and issues approval for engineering services and proposed construction modifications.

2:30 PM Plan future trip to inspect construction of new drinking water system.

2:45 PM - 4:00 PM Attend meeting on infrastructure protection and security.

Because the environmental field is so broad, you do not necessarily need a college degree to get involved. While many fields do require a science or engineering degree, many job opportunities exist in recycling, wastewater and water treatment, monitoring and sampling, or as part of the construction trades.

For more details about my career path, look through my resume. (pdf file)
Learn more about the topic of LAND
Go to the Class Project Ken Pantuck designed
Check out the other mentor whose career is related to LAND: Carol Fialkowski
Check out LAND Resources

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