Arts & Life
10:10 am
Thu April 25, 2013

A Birmingham business that really "cleans up."

Alabama Public Radio continues its collaboration on the new television program, Alabama, Inc. The show is about business in Alabama, and it airs every Wednesday on your local Alabama Public Television station. This week, how do you go green at your house? We recycle at the Duggins’ household, and we have re-usable canvas shopping bags at the supermarket, and a tankless water which uses less energy. We’re feeling “environmentally friendly,” right? That is, until I met Shannon Riley of Birmingham. She’s owns and operates of One Stop Environmental, which handles clean-up projects like Fort Rucker Army Base and Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. “We are the dirty side of the environmental clean-up world,” says Riley. “We’re the ones in the boots on getting the job done. So, we when we leave, no one knows there was an environmental problem there.” Riley got her Masters degree in chemistry from the University of Alabama. But, her first practical experience in the field sometimes takes a little explaining. “When I tell people I worked at Los Alamos,” says Riley. “I usually get blank stares.” If Los Alamos sounds familiar, but you can’t put your finger on it, it could be because of something scientists developed there in the early 1940’s—the atomic bomb. “It was wonderful. I loved working at Los Alamos,” says Riley. “Not only for the history of the place, and it was a beautiful place, it was high desert. And I learned how to clean-up the waste left behind by the creation of the atomic bomb. “ And the practical experience didn’t end there. In 2007, Hurricane Katrina hit and One Stop Environmental got some of its first contracts. Riley says that taught her how to handle governmental paperwork and how to deal with people. “Our job was one thing, but we also had to deal with the people,” says Riley. “Residents who had undergone a crisis, and how to handle people with compassion. We had a job to get done, but we were driving big trucks and making a lot of noise and they’re already been through a lot.” After that was April 27, 2011 and the tornadoes that ripped through Alabama, killing over two hundred people. One Stop Environmental was hired to help with the clean-up, particularly older buildings constructed at a time when it was okay to use asbestos. “For Tuscaloosa, we had thirteen crews, which meant thirteen supervisors, and thirteen heavy equipment operators and thirteen pieces of equipment,” Riley recalls. “And, we were staged all over Alabama, which means you had to coordinate with hotels and you’re getting people from place to place.” Along with that are the derailed chemical tanker railroad cars Riley deals with regularly, and even cleaning up meth labs for Jefferson. We’ll discuss all that this Wednesday on "Alabama, Inc" at 10 pm on your local Alabama Public Television station.