I attended a meeting in August of this year held by The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) in Columbia, SC to discuss proposed State Underground Petroleum Environmental Response Bank SUPERB rate changes for Certified UST Site Rehabilitation Contractors.
Mr. Mihir Mehta of SCDHEC provided information on how SCDHEC arrived at the rates they proposed and the crowd was not pleased. In a nutshell, SCDHEC obtained the rates from a recent bid where only 12 of the 240+ certified contractors had actually submitted bids. The proposed rates were reportedly above the average of what these 12 contractors bid for various services, but in most cases, were less than half of what the previous rates had been. The new lower rates were scheduled to become effective on October 1, 2013.
According to unnamed sources (not in the Obama administration), most of the contractors who bid did not give real rates on items they did not intend to do, and instead listed the rates as either zero or an extremely low number for said items just to fill in the blanks. These numbers were reportedly averaged by SCDHEC and an above average rate was established for each item.
The discussions and questions at the meeting were quite spirited with many of the attendees just throwing up their hands in frustration. SCHDEC had not directly informed the contractors that this bid was going to be used to set the rates, because they expected that would cause a lot of elevated prices to be submitted causing substantial increases to the rates.
In September, SCDHEC announced that due to the amount of comments received about the rate changes, they were delaying the effective date of the changes until November 1, 2013. A group of certified contractors have reportedly hired attorneys and lobbyists to force SCDHEC to suspend these rate changes, but as of this writing SCDHEC has only made minor changes (mostly drilling rates) and the new SUPERB rates are in effect.
Many of Enviro Equipment, Inc.’s customers have asked us about the difference between the MiniRAE 2000 and MiniRAE 3000 measurement ranges with an 11.7 eV lamp, so I decided to clarify these differences by conducting my own test.
Measurement Range and Lamps
Although the MiniRAE 3000 and 2000 do not share the same 10.6 eV lamp, the 11.7 eV lamp is interchangeable. The MiniRAE 3000 reads up to 15,000 ppm using the standard 10.6 eV lamp, while the MiniRAE 2000 only has a range of 10,000 ppm. One thing I found interesting, the specifications for the MiniRAE 3000 with an 11.7 eV lamp show a measurement range of 0 to 2000 ppm, the MiniRAE 2000 does not list specs for an 11.7 eV lamp.
The Test I Performed
I decided to perform a test using both meters and an 11.7 eV lamp to see the difference in measurement ranges. I used a solvent with high VOCs that was sure to spike the readings on the PID to perform my test. When I installed the lamp on the MiniRAE 3000 and exposed it to the solvent, the readings peaked at 2,000 ppm as expected. When I performed the same test using the MiniRAE 2000 with the same exact lamp, the readings peaked at 10,000 ppm. You would think that the MiniRAE 3000 would have the higher measurement range in this situation, but that is not the case. However, the reason is not because the MiniRAE 3000 is more or less capable than the MiniRAE 2000.
At this point my opinion is that the MiniRAE 3000 only reads up to 2,000 ppm due to the restrictions that RAE Systems put in the firmware. The MiniRAE 2000 does not place a restriction on the measurement range when you change the settings to the 11.7 lamp mode. RAE Systems tech support confirmed my theory and told me that the linear range they found for the lamp when testing the MiniRAE 3000 was 0 to 2,000 ppm. So my conclusion is that although the MiniRAE 2000 lets you view the readings past 2,000 ppm, the readings may not be very accurate past this point. This can be either an advantage or disadvantage to the MiniRAE 2000, depending upon how you look at it.