2022 Richard I. Stessel Waste Management Award
Richard I. Stessel (1956–2001) was a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida and an avid A&WMA enthusiast. He influenced A&WMA’s Technical Council to include greener, energy-efficient, and integrated engineering solutions in solid and hazardous waste management, using materials science and engineering together with industrial ecology, environmental, and subsurface engineering, along with geological science in innovative solid and hazardous waste management. His vision of the environmental engineering cycle always considered recyclable materials, resource recovery in the matrix of pollution abatement, remediation, restoration, and disposal. Established in 2012, the Richard I. Stessel Award is presented annually by the Association for outstanding achievement in the engineering and science of waste management excellence. The recipient of this award must demonstrate technical accomplishments considered to be major contributions in innovative strategies, treatment, recycling, reuse, or engineering/scientific excellence in the principles of resource recovery engineering and waste processing waste management.
A&WMA presents the 2022 Richard I. Stessel Waste Management Award to Harold (JR) Register.
Harold D. Register, Jr. is a professional engineer in the Environmental Quality and Sustainability Department at Consumers Energy, a public utility that provides gas and electric to 6.6 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents. His current area of focus is policy, strategy, technical support, and compliance solutions for the management of Coal Combustion Residuals (CCRs) at five generating sites owned by Consumers Energy that have either ceased or preparing to cease coal-fired boiler operations. In his role as a Principal Engineer at Consumers Energy, Mr. Register has provided a vision for navigating the dynamics of a complex regulatory framework established in federal rulemaking that needed to be coordinated with state rules and statutes requiring CCR landfills and surface impoundments to achieve standards through written plans, reports, and certifications on a self-implementing milestone schedule. His experience and expertise guided strategic directions addressing interconnected technical elements of federal and state regulations with numerous innovative policy-based approaches that were subsequently further developed into technical solutions yielding cost-effective, compliant solutions.
Mr. Register has crafted compliance strategies to maximize options to find sustainable, long-term uses for previously disposed CCRs as Consumers Energy has been rapidly exiting the coal-fired generation of electricity to focus on renewable sources of power generation, like solar and wind. One policy-driven solution focused on developing a quality control (QC) driven sampling methodology prior to excavation of CCRs that allowed for a streamlined, lines-of-evidence approach for documenting the removal of CCRs to health-based concentrations by measuring material properties rather than validating removal through confirmatory sampling that would then be compared to a fixed limit on a sample-by-sample basis. This approach was reviewed and approved by the state regulatory agency and ultimately provided a process to document performance requirements in federal rule while achieving state requirements and reduced the time needed to execute the project and the uncertainty in achieving the objective.
Mr. Register has also been the chair of the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG) Ash Management and Solid Waste Committee since 2016. As the committee chair, Mr. Register has served at a critical time for the electric power industry. He has been integrally involved in formulating and conveying the utility industry positions with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) when the first-ever national rules addressing management of CCRs was published, supporting legislative fixes for permitting programs under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, and responding to numerous amendments to the federal CCR rule as well as leading policy and technical discussions for implementing compliance solutions for CCR-related projects. He was particularly active and provided significant technical resources in support of the final rule for A Holistic Approach to Closure Part B: Alternate Liner Demonstration finalized in November 2020 based on his expertise and knowledge of soil mechanics and hydrology of final cover systems and bottom liner systems.
Mr. Register has also significantly contributed to state policy and regulation in Michigan. He was appointed to the Michigan Solid Waste and Sustainability Panel (SWSAP) as the utility representative from 2014 – 2018 and a contributing author to the Michigan Solid Waste and Sustainability Advisory Panel Report prepared for Governor Rick Snyder and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Heidi C. Grether (January, 2017). He was also a contributing author to the Michigan Solid Waste Policy of 2017 (revised from 2007), dated January 2017. His collaboration and participation in these solid waste committees led to serving as the Utility Industry Lead, Michigan Electric Utilities Coal Combustion Residuals Work Group (EUCCRWG) where he facilitated improved understanding of changes in management of CCRs in federal rule and helped form consensus input for recommended changes in state policy and statute. Ultimately, this led to his regulatory and technical contributions to drafting and ultimate passage of Michigan Public Act 640, A Law to Provide for the Assumption of a Federal Permit Program Pertaining to Coal Combustion Residuals, enacted December 28, 2018.
In addition to policy and compliance, Mr. Register stays actively involved in the development and knowledge transfer of technologies and solutions for compliance for CCR-related projects. He is an active member in the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Coal Combustion Project (CCP) management research program. He actively supports research and contributes data to larger research efforts, has demonstrated innovative approaches to applying EPRI research to compliance challenges, and is a leader among his peers by suggesting a leading EPRI’s Risk-Based Monitoring Users Group. His innovative spirit and program impact has been distinguished by having received recognition in the form of a Technology Transfer Award (TTA) for outstanding contributions twice since 2018.
Finally, Mr. Register has delivered over 50 presentations related to state and federal regulatory standards for CCRs, technical standards for closing CCR landfills and surface impoundments, technical standards for documenting excavation of CCRs, groundwater geochemistry associated with CCR landfills and surface impoundments, water quality associated with groundwater surface water interface (GSI), and remediation case studies for CCR landfills and surface impoundments. He was a significant contributor to EPRI publications for Model Evaluation of the Relative Performance of Alternative Liners (including case study) and Biogeochemistry at Coal Combustion Product Sites: Conceptual Review and Case Studies. He has also authored a conference paper for development of a site conceptual model in support of closure for Power Generation Week and co-authored a paper for development of a 3-D site conceptual model for evaluating selenium impacts for the World of Coal Ash. Mr. Register has valued the many opportunities to develop and share improved understanding of CCR-related projects with many different audiences.
Harold D. Register, Jr.