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DOCS II Presentations

ESTCP Studies

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Hill Air Force Base, one of Utah’s largest employers, operates the Utah Test and Training Range. The Open Burn Open Detonation program on the UTTR, routinely disposes of aged and surplus munitions and military bi-product such as aged rocket motors. In the late 90’s HAFB detonated a large batch of rocket propellant which caused complaints from Salt Lake City neighbors over 50 miles away. HAFB being a responsible steward of the environment, began investigating better ways to characterize and document visible emissions sources and events in response to the public’s request. HAFB recognized the expense and subjectivity of visible emissions evaluation via “EPA Method 9” and began a campaign in the Military to determine if other Air Force, Army, Navy, installations had found a “better” way to characterize visible emission events. The multi service inquire found all of the military services and other Federal agencies and department used EPA Method 9 to evaluate Opacity of visible emission events and all had a desire to find a less burdensome and more detailed means to characterize visible emissions. As a result of the survey findings, the Environmental Security Test and Certification Program and the Strategic, Environmental, Research and Development Program, initiated tasking to discover and validate a means to characterize visible emissions. The objectives of the programs launched were tied to the existing EPA Method 9 methodology given that nearly all installations had some type of existing EPA Method 9 requirement in existing permits and fugitive emissions resulting from construction and training operations. The HAFB approach was to use digital imagery which was an emerging technology at the time to capture pictures of the event, and analysis software that could characterize from the digital image, e.g. Opacity value, particulate load and dissipation rate. Through this basic and applied research the concepts of digital image based visible emission characterization was born. Testing of various algorithms comparing pixels, groups of pixels, and lines of resolution, defined that computer based analysis was both possible and within accuracy constrains. However, the bulk of computers and cameras, file sizes, and the lack of network band width and reliability plagued the DOCS technical approach in the early years. As well, the transition from the art form known as EPA Method 9, to the regimented systems approach “DOCS” was also a major barrier.