Canadian Company's Expertise Leads To Major PCB Transportation Project

Oct. 1, 1998
Harold Marcus Ltd of Bothwell, Ontario, is one of a few Canadian carriers approved to haul polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) from points across the country

Harold Marcus Ltd of Bothwell, Ontario, is one of a few Canadian carriers approved to haul polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) from points across the country to a location 200 miles north of Edmonton, Alberta, where the chemical is incinerated.

"The project represents 10% overall growth in our business for the past two years," says Denis Marcus, owner and carrier operations manager.

The company acquired the knowledge necessary to handle petroleum by-products and other hazardous waste because it was established to provide services to the oil patch throughout southwestern Ontario. Subsequently, the United States borders were opened to Canadian waste haulers.

"Development of the hazardous waste division was a gradual, hands-on progression," says Marcus. "To be selected for the PCB project, we had to demonstrate our hazardous materials expertise, including insurance coverage, safety records, regulation compliance, and employee training."

The PCB project typifies the versatility of the company that was established in 1946 by Marcus' father, Harold Marcus, who remains president. Throughout the years, the carrier has expanded from hauling crude oil in a wooden tank trailer with a four-wheel-drive army tractor to handling a variety of products with about 230 trailers and 130 power units.

Since the company's founding more than 50 years ago, terminals have been established in Canada at Sarnia and Mississauga, Ontario; and Montreal, Quebec. US terminals are in Riverdale, Illinois; Port Huron, Michigan; and Memphis, Tennessee. Transports crisscross Canada and the United States.

In the interim between 1946 and today, several factors have influenced growth. The company purchased three tank trailers in 1955 to extend its capability and continued to purchase equipment as the market demanded. When the oil and gas downturn struck the industry in the late 1970s, the company was ready to diversify, but able to use the equipment and expertise already in place.

As the company developed hazardous waste hauling, it added an emergency response team, equipment, and support services that can respond to incidents in Canada and the United States. A 45-foot van trailer has been modified to serve as a command center for emergencies that involve flammable liquids, combustible liquids, flammable solids, oxidizers, poisons, and corrosive liquids and solids.

The company activates the emergency response team for tank truck rollovers, in-plant incidents, and various product spills. In March of this year, Harold Marcus Ltd responded to an emergency that occurred when vandals damaged a storage tank in a remote production area east of Windsor, Ontario. About 250 barrels (10,500 gallons) of crude oil spilled into nearby municipal drains and Lake St Clair. The company used its emergency unit to clean up the area and remediate the spill site.

While hazardous wastes continue to occupy a large segment of the operation, chemical transportation has gained a niche. In the early 1980s, the company purchased its first two stainless steel chemical trailers. "The chemical side has grown about 30% in recent years," says Marcus. Today, 80% of the company's business comes from waste, chemicals, and crude oil. Another 20% represents business involving wastes unrelated to tank trailers. Customers number about 300.

Keeping up with the growth of services requires accurate and timely dispatching. Dispatchers are on the job 7 am to 10 pm every day. After 10 pm, phones are answered by maintenance personnel who are on duty around the clock.

Drivers receive orders through a combination cell phone and two-way radio system from Clearnet Inc. The two-way radio system reaches from Harold Marcus Ltd headquarters to Quebec City, Quebec. It will be expanded to the western United States by next year. With the use of the digital equipment, drivers can receive faxes and messages. "This program really sold itself," says Randy Badiuk, compliance and safety manager. "It is so user-friendly and especially effective for use in emergency situations. The system is less expensive to use than cell phones and worth the investment."

In addition to training drivers to use the new communication equipment, the company employs a training package designed in-house and fine-tuned after many years of practice. To apply for a job, applicants must be at least 25 years old and have two years' over-the-road truck driving experience. The company provides 40 hours of classroom training that covers rules and regulations by the US Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Canadian regulatory agencies, Transport Canada and Environment Canada. Drivers are also taught hours-of-service logging, defensive driving, braking, and stopping.

After the classroom training is completed, new drivers remain under the supervision of senior company drivers for about two weeks.

"Every year we have retraining of various items such as legislative changes that are coming up," says Badiuk. "Those are reviewed, as well as sensitive issues of the past year."

Driver incentives include a driver-of-the-year award. It is based on peer review by 15 employees representing all departments. Each person rates drivers on performance based on interacting with each department.

Safe-driving incentives are in a separate category and are judged by the company owners. A $100 annual bonus goes to all drivers without moving violations. An automatic 1% of gross wage goes to every driver, while an additional 1% is added for drivers who have had no accidents or incidents in the past year.

In conjunction with the emphasis on safety, the company has established an alcohol and drug testing facility at the Bothwell terminal. The company provides a building for an independent consultant who gathers urine samples, conducts breathalyzer tests, and provides evaluations. About 25 other carriers also use the service. Tests are given at random, before employment, and after accidents.

While driver recruitment, training, benefits, and retention demand significant capital investment, equipment also impacts the budget. The trailer fleet includes 50 MC307 and DOT407 tanks for chemicals, 20 for crude oil, 25 for corrosives, and 20 for vacuum use with wastes. Ten small vacuum tank trucks are in use, and one compressed gas tank trailer is dedicated to one customer. Three pneumatic trailers are used to haul limestone dust.

In addition, the company owns 14 roll-off B-trains, vans used to haul waste drums, dump trailers for waste, and shuffling trailers used for materials discarded in demolition and refuse.

Fiberglass-reinforced trailers are manufactured by Comptank, a Harold Marcus Ltd partner company established in 1987, which is also a commercial supplier.

"The fiberglass trailer is very versatile," says Marcus. "We can wash it out easily and then switch products. There's just a comfort level using it."

Comptank has completed arrangements to export a trailer to England and has received queries from companies in France and Chile. "We are anticipating an international market for these trailers," says Marcus.

Comptank trailers are available in two sizes - one for the United States with a 5,600-gallon capacity and a five-foot diameter and another for Canada with an 8,000-imperial gallon (9,608 US gallon) capacity and six-foot diameter. Insulated and non-insulated versions are available. Hardware includes Drum blowers and vacuum pumps, Fort Vale or Girard pressure relief valves, and Chem Line internal and external valves.

The majority of the company fleet's vacuum trailers are built by Presvac. A few Cusco and Trailmaster trailers are also in use. All have Betts external valves, Fort Vale pressure-relief valves, and Truck-Lite lights.

Vacuum trucks are specified for use in Ontario only. The Cusco or Presvac 3,000-imperial-gallon (3,603 US gallon) vessels are mounted on Kenworth chassis powered by Caterpillar 375-horsepower engines with 15-speed Eaton transmissions. Equipment includes Roper or Triton pumps, Betts or Allegheny valves, Fort Vale or Girard pressure-relief valves, and Betts domelids.

Chemical trailers are built by Tremcar and Nova. The 7,200-US-gallon DOT407 trailers have Betts valves, Truck-Lite lights, Fort Vale or Girard pressure-relief valves, Roper pumps, Drum compressors, and Betts manholes. The vapor recovery system is assembled in-house. Hydraulic-driven pumps are mounted on the trailers.

All Harold Marcus Ltd trailers carry materials to be used in an emergency involving hazardous products. They are packed in a plastic container and mounted underneath the trailer near the spare tire. All vehicles have Bridgestone tires.

About 75% of the tractors are a mix of T-600 and T-800 Kenworth conventionals specified for a gross combination weight of 137,000 pounds. A few Peterbilt and Navistar International power units also are in use. The most recent additions to the fleet have Caterpillar 430-horsepower engines, 15-speed Eaton transmissions, and Eaton tandem-drive axles with a 4.11 ratio.

A tachograph records speed, shifting patterns, mileage, and revolutions per minute. "We can measure the performance of the driver with this electronic tool," says Badiuk. A Groenveld automatic greasing system has been used on the tractors for 10 years. It applies lubricant to 32 points. "We've seen a marked increase in the life of steering components, kingpins, and bushings," says Badiuk.

To contend with Canada's freezing winter temperatures, tractors have either Web Astor or Espar heaters. Every seven days, tractors are lubed, and fluid and tires are checked. Engine oil and filter are changed every 12,000 miles. "We like the longevity of the Kenworths," says Marcus. "When the tractors used for long-distance runs are eventually downgraded, they are used in local service."

Maintenance is performed in a 10-bay shop, one with a 100-foot-long grease pit that accommodates long units. Trailers are serviced every 30 days.

One wash bay is available for external cleaning. Two bays for internal cleanings use Pearsall Hydrolance equipment. Harold Marcus Ltd cleans about 300 tank trailers per month.

About 75% of the wastewater is recycled for use in the cleaning procedure. An in-house-designed system is used in the recycling process that includes a sloping floor that moves fluids and solids into the drain. Material is drawn into a waste pit and through a filter press where solids are separated and disposed of. The water is stored in tanks where it is treated with chemicals. It then is pumped into an osmosis oxygen-adding unit and through a sand filter and three carbon filters before it is reused.

Recycling and waste disposal are elements of Harold Marcus Ltd that are akin to other examples of the company's ability to use knowledge acquired in one segment of service and applied to another. The philosophy was born 50 years ago in the Canadian oil and gas industry, expanded to the United States when the opportunity was presented, and continues today with the prospects of growing even more in Canada and the US.