Environmental regulations can be hard to track, but Austin Master Services (AMS) makes every effort to stay ahead of the industry, CEO Jack Bement says. “We’re routinely working with regulators, and have insight into future developments in the industry,” he says.
Pottstown, Pa.-based AMS is an environmental services firm that specializes in radiological waste management. When Bement founded the company in 1997, it provided services to the industrial and commercial nuclear power market.
Today, AMS serves the oil and gas market in the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays. “Last year, we realized a revenue of about $3.6 million in business,” he says, noting that the company anticipates more than $10 million in sales in 2015.
The company’s experience of working in the nuclear market under strict protocols of that sector aided the company’s move into the oilfield. There were not many regulations when AMS entered the oil and gas sector, Bement notes. “But now it’s being regulated and managed more responsibly,” Bement says. “It’s got a ways to go and we’re planning to stay ahead of the game.”
AMS recently opened a 150,000-square-foot facility in Martins Ferry, Ohio, that is rail served and capable of trans-loading. The new facility allows the company to take all forms of oil and gas waste, analyze it and determine the regulatory required disposition, Bement says.
“If materials we receive are appropriate for local waste disposal, we can down-blend to achieve regulated levels,” he says. For materials that are not appropriate for local disposal, AMS can ship to Energy Solutions’ low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Clive, Utah.
AMS has implemented its in-situ gamma spectroscopy system to analyze waste for its clients. Competitors can take from 24 hours to 21 days to provide analytical data to their clients, but AMS is able to expedite the process, Bement asserts.
“We’ve developed in-situ gamma spectroscopy that enables us to analyze a container in 16 minutes at the same accuracy as a lab analysis,” he says. “We utilize new technology to speed up the processing part.”
Some AMS clients decide to dispose of waste themselves. AMS is equipped to handle that service as well. “We can receive a waste shipment, process it and dispose of it under our own profiles,” he states.
Facility Partner Services
While AMS handles the higher-level solids and sludges, 4K Industries provides brine water recycling and fresh water resources within the 4K complex to the oil and gas producers, as part of its turnkey services that support oil and gas operations.
With the oil market experiencing a downturn at the present time, “It’s not very busy in the Utica/Marcellus shale regions right now,” Bement comments. “It may be months or a couple years before they start drilling heavily again.” But AMS keeps busy. “We’ve been inundated with materials to process,” Bement says. “It’s also given us an opportunity to evaluate our efficiencies.”
AMS has instituted varied processes for different types of materials that it accepts, including methods of de-watering, blending and stabilization. “We’re becoming more efficient and learning to minimize waste volumes by utilizing presses and evaluating different stabilization media,” he adds.
Bement is proud of the AMS team, which is comprised of individuals with experience and expertise in the nuclear power and coal industry. “We’re in a good position,” he says. “We have an awesome workforce and we’re proud of the commitment our employees have made to the safety and the efficiency of our process.”
AMS’ resident talent goes through rigorous in-house training that includes relevant information on radioactive materials, such as radium -226 and radium -228. “Every employee is also provided the standard OSHA training and undergoes a hazmat physical,” Bement adds.
Keeping the Status Quo
Bement predicts a strong future for AMS, despite some downturn in activity. “I see some producers in the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays that are strong, financially stable and continue to explore and construct projects,” he says.
“There are some key producers we like working with and they have gone out of their way to stay compliant with the ever-changing regulations,” he continues. “I think we’ll maintain the status quo for the next few years.”
The AMS corporate office is located in Pottstown, and is the field services headquarters. AMS’ decision to expand the original field services into the oil and gas division has opened up new opportunities company wide. Implementing new employees and building new networks has allowed AMS to efficiently compete in the industry.
The field services division provides environmental services in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and New Jersey. “We have over 100 years of combined experience in field services,” says Joe Bement, president of AMS.