Clemson Co-Op at Santee Cooper
As my first co-op rotation at Santee Cooper ends, I realize how much valuable experience I gained working in the Waste Management department. While the COVID-19 pandemic spreads throughout the country, Santee Cooper and Waste Management remain committed to the safety of its employees while continuing to do the work required to meet regulations and ensure protection of the environment.
Working in Waste Management allows me the opportunity to learn about the environmental aspects of running an energy utility. As someone who pays for electricity from an electric cooperative, I never questioned the price. I never considered what went on at the generating stations to actually produce megawatts in an environmentally sound manner. From my time here, I learned the EPA highly regulates what utilities can discharge and emit, both in the ground and in the air. Being in the Environmental section gives a new perspective on the measures to monitor our environment and how companies and even individuals can affect it.
I have been given the unique chance as a co-op student to help stack test with the Air Department. This group focuses on performing stack tests, which gives them a good understanding of what’s going into the air at the coal-fired stations. This data is reported to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the EPA to show compliance with regulations, It also is used to support on-going scrubber operations that greatly reduce air emissions. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with my group and I feel that it benefits me, especially as a chemical engineering major.
Additionally, I was able to work in the lab, which allowed me to be involved “cradle to grave” with the soil and groundwater samples. This gives me the unique opportunity to not only take the samples from the sites, but to also run the machines that measure down to the parts per billion. These readings are reported to DHEC, which is a crucial step in keeping Santee Cooper compliant with regulations and permits. Doing this has shown me all the safety precautions Santee Cooper and the government have been, and are currently, taking to protect the environment even before the COVID-19 pandemic.