CEMEX Invests in UK-wide Quarry Monitoring to Meet EPR, MCERTS

Like so many areas within the mining/aggregate sector, quarries have a limited lifespan so long-term investment is not the best economic choice. As a result, every installation is chosen locally on its merits with cost being the predominant factor. However, with recent developments in the Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) of 2010 and the UK's Monitoring Certifications (MCERTS) program, companies now have to look long and hard at their monitoring solutions and evolve from a short-term to a longer term approach.


RS Hydro is installing flowmeter and telemetry technology in the field.

CEMEX, a supplier of cement, ready-mix concrete and aggregates, recently contracted with RS Hydro to supply, install and monitor more than 250 flow monitoring installations across the United Kingdom. “In its tendering process, CEMEX demonstrated its forward-thinking approach to solving new regulation challenges and embracing modern technology to produce cost-effective solutions to increasingly complex compliance management and monitoring data capture,” said RS Hydro's Rob Stevens. The contractor is a total solutions provider and distributor in the UK process and environmental sectors and will develop the CEMEX solution using Siemens SITRANS range of electromagnetic/open channel flow meters and Adcon’s AddWAVE radio and GPRS telemetry logging system.

The EPR (England and Wales) of 2007 replaced 41 separate sets of regulation and provided a common permitting framework for waste and pollution prevention and control permit regimes. The Environment Agency’s aim is to move toward a single permit, single site, and single regulator regime in order to cut costs and red tape. Prior to EPR, different activities required differing types of permission to continue, with different names, different forms, procedures and processes. However, all of the permissions served to do the same action: protect the environment.

The EPR 2010, or Environmental Permitting Phase 2 (EPP2), became effective on April 6. This measure extended the 2007 system of environmental permits to cover water discharge consents, groundwater authorizations and radioactive substances regulation. EPP2 now covers more than 1 million permits and exemptions.

For organizations with pollution prevention and control permits, water discharge consents, groundwater or radioactive substances authorizations, those designations automatically became environmental permits on April 6 under the new regulations. The permitting process, exemptions, penalties and the Environment Agency’s enforcement powers created under EPP1 remain unchanged.

Under EPR and MCERTS, monitoring instrumentation for discharges to rivers, streams and the sea requires that all equipment is of an acceptable standard. Instrumentation is broken down into three main categories:

  • Automatic wastewater samplers ─ Automatic collection of water samples for laboratory analysis;
  • Online analyzers ─ For substances like ammonia, dissolved oxygen and nitrate;
  • Flow meters ─ for the continuous monitoring of effluent flow.

The UK Environment Agency requires EPR regulated sites with an effluent monitoring requirement to comply with the MCERTS Self Monitoring of Effluent Flow scheme. Generally speaking, this will include any operator discharging more than 50 cubic meters per day. A site conformity inspection certificate is issued after an MCERTS inspector conducts an audit of the site and management system and finds the operation satisfactory. The certificate is valid for five years.

The Solution
CEMEX chose RS Hydro because it was the only company with a demonstrable track record of providing a total solution for environmental monitoring and data management covering installation, calibration and maintenance. The company also is responsible for monitoring the entire network for any alarms and for uploading all data into CEMEX’s environmental database.

The overall project is to update and install a new flow and remote monitoring system across the whole company for abstraction, process and discharge applications. Applications involve clean water and process applications through to flows with high suspended solids content. Most of the applications fall within EPR and MCERTS and, as such, all flow metering instrumentation is required to meet MCERTS product standards. The only company to provide a full range of MCERTS-certified flow meters for pipe and open channel flow applications is Siemens.

The SITRANS flow meters are high performance, cost-effective and reliable. The FM model can be installed easily virtually anywhere because it can be powered by AC/DC power supplies or internal lithium batteries. At the center of this project is the MAG 8000, which is a microprocessor-based water meter with graphical display and key for optimum customer operation and information onsite.


CEMEX can monitor its flow and alarm status using portable devices such as this one.

Flow and alarm status information from the flow meters will be monitored using all the available digital outputs and using addWAVE telemetry loggers to transfer the data to the contractor's FlowView data portal.

Adcon’s advanced UHF/GSM/GPRS telemetry data logging system can provide continuous data as frequently as every minute and uses super-efficient 2- and 4-watt micro-solar panels (smaller than a sheet of A5), lithium batteries or mains-powered transformers. The RTU’s internal battery pack not only supplies the logger and the radio/GSM modem with power, but even the sensors attached to the system. This makes external power sources, cabling and cabinets in most cases obsolete, saving money in purchasing and operation. The system uses a unique topology: every long-range radio station ─ be it a flow meter, a level sensor, a water quality platform or a weather station ─ also can perform as a relay station for other long-range or short-range radio stations. This not only extends the range of data transmission, it also reduces infrastructure costs.

AddWAVE telemetry dataloggers can monitor up to 60 channels (SDI-12, digital and analog) of data from flow meters, pumps and motors, level sensors, multi-parameter water quality and weather station systems (to name a few). They also have built-in relays to control associated equipment. The company's RTUs operate either in the 430 to 470MHz frequency band, transmitting data up to 20 km (12 miles), or they use the GSM/GPRS network. The GPRS range of RTUs has all the same advantages as the radio RTUs in terms of datalogging, remote monitoring, local control and power consumption.

The A850 Telemetry System Gateway is at the center of every monitoring network, be it a pure GSM/GPRS network, a UHF radio network or a combination of both. “When you discuss this telemetry system, it is great to see the enthusiasm from a potential client. This telemetry system is unique and has no boundaries in terms of applications and abilities,” Stevens said.

addVANTAGE Professional is Adcon’s universal data visualization, processing and distribution platform. It is fully web based, runs on an Oracle 10g database engine and is fully scalable from a single user version for 5 RTUs to a super server, serving thousands of clients and thousands of RTUs.

The installation project, expected to last at least two to three years, will involve the monitoring of more than 300 abstraction, process and discharge monitoring locations. Depending on the importance of each process, data will be uploaded as often as every 15 minutes or as little as once per day. However, the upload and logging interval can be changed at any point during the day.

Almost all of the locations will require little or no maintenance. The complete network of instrumentation will be monitored automatically by creating statistical thresholds for both monitored parameters such as flow, turbidity, rainfall etc. and various fault diagnostic parameters. For example, the Siemens MAG 8000 flow meter has eight fault diagnostic alarms covering electrodes, coils and battery power (amongst others) that are scanned continuously.

Living in a densely populated country like the United Kingdom has always required the need for stringent environmental monitoring, but MCERTS and EPR require much more substantial environmental monitoring. As with this project, localized monitoring and reporting of flows, water levels and water quality is no longer a reliable way forward and now requires a more central approach.

RS Hydro is a UK distributor for Siemens, GE Sensing (Panametrics), Teledyne ISCO, Adcon, INW, Eureka and Thermo Scientific.

About the Author

Ed Lang, a specialist in open flow channel measurement, joined RS Hydro in 2008. For more information about the company, visit http://www.rshydro.co.uk/.

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