Twenty Years of Dave Graham Meller, Buttonwood Marketing

If you cut Dave Curtis in half you will fi nd the letters S, T and A written all the way through, like a stick of Hitchin rock. For over 20 years he has been the organisation’s heart and soul, guiding the emissions monitoring sector through a tumultuous period. Reliable standards are in place, MCERTS has underpinned the quality of monitoring and no manufacturing company or stack testing business can hope to succeed in the emissions monitoring sector unless it is able to demonstrate high levels of performance. Technical training courses have been run aplenty and technical guidance is easily available. Of course, he didn’t do it all alone (ask Sue) but the industry owes a debt of gratitude to this man, and he can rightfully sit back with a glass of lightly chilled Rosé and refl ect on a job well done.

But hang on. What do you mean ‘we’re leaving Europe’?! Most of our environmental regulations were forged in Europe! What’s going to happen when we let slip the anchor and sail off into Brexitland? If we ‘take back control’ we might make a real hash of it. Dave... come back!

It is hard to imagine the Source Testing Association without Dave Curtis, but that’s what’s going to happen. So, at the next meetings of the STA in November and March next year, discussions will take place to ensure that the organisation maintains its vital role in the emissions monitoring sector and continues to thrive. Before that meeting takes place, it makes sense to look back and refl ect on how the STA became the organisations that it is.

The STA was established in 1995 as a non-profi t making organisation serving the emission monitoring industry, and originally headed by John Sadler. Within a year, membership had grown to over 100 companies, and today the organisation boasts a corporate membership of over 200, drawn from process operators, regulators, equipment suppliers and test laboratories with increasing interest from overseas. Membership is open to any company with an interest in emissions monitoring. Since its inception, the STA has been committed to the advancement of the science and practice of emissions monitoring. Its aims and objectives are to:

1. contribute to the development of industry standards, codes, safety procedures and operating principles;

2. encourage the personal and professional development of practicing source testers and students;


3. maintain a body of current sampling knowledge; 4. assist in maintaining a high level of ethical conduct;

5. seek co-operative endeavours with other professional organisations, institutions and regulatory bodies, nationally and internationally.

Through his business DRC Consultancy Services, Dave Curtis took over the running of the STA in 1996, providing administration and technical support. At the same time, instrument manufacturers, trade organisations, NPL and the Environment Agency had begun discussions that would ultimately lead to the formation of the MCERTS scheme. The STA helped organise the fi rst CEM conference with IEA Coal Research in 1997, and the fi rst MCERTS certifi cates were awarded to CEM suppliers at the following event in 1999.

In 2000 the STA and NPL were issued a contract by the EA to develop MCERTS for manual monitoring, in conjunction with AEA, AES, EMC, Stanger and NEL. As MCERTS began to take effect, process operators needed help and advice on compliance, and instrument suppliers were encouraged to join the scheme. Following a suggestion by Keith Golding, the fi rst MCERTS Conference (em-CERTS) took place at Bretby in 2002, jointly organised by the STA, the EA and Environmental Technology (Publications). The em-CERTS events were an immediate success; becoming ‘MCERTS’ and latterly, with the inclusion of ambient air quality, they became ‘AQE’ – the Air Quality and Emissions shows. AQE 2018 will be the 10th in the series of events, attracting speakers and delegates from all over the world.

The STA began the provision of training courses for all MCERTS qualifi cations in 2003, and established a training centre with the Hong Kong Productivity Council in 2013. In addition to the services and support that the STA delivers to its members, the STA has also been involved in BSI, CEN and ISO committees, and participated in many projects with both NPL and the EA.

Dave will be stepping aside in 2018, but the so-called VW scandal served as a reminder of the importance of accurate and reliable monitoring, so it is comforting that the industrial emissions sector has had the STA to help protect the quality of monitoring data. With current uncertainty levels outside acceptable limits, the need for a fl ourishing STA might never be greater.

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