Meet Jeff Lewellin, CTEH’s Director of TERP
Mr. Jeff Lewellin, CTEH’s Director of Toxicology Emergency Response Program (TERP), has over 26 years of experience as an environmental emergency response and science professional. He has worked primarily in the public sector with most of his tenure at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the New Mexico Environment Department. In his role at the TCEQ, he planned, organized and directed the activities of the TCEQ Emergency Response Strike Team, responding to large-scale man-made and natural disasters. In other roles, he has worked as an emergency response coordinator, project and program manager, and a principal project scientist.
He joined CTEH in 2013, and we sat down recently to get to know him better. . .
Tell us why you decided to join CTEH?
The emergency response community is a small, close-knit group of professionals in the United States, and through this work, you get to know the really good companies. I worked with CTEH on a number of responses through my public sector role. I viewed them as a leader in the field in the things that I worked on, such as air monitoring, public exposure and providing emergency response services. I have long known them as the best in the industry at what they do, and I wanted to come support their efforts.
Throughout each professional interaction, CTEH had the highest level of expertise I had ever seen in the specialty fields of toxicology, industrial health, and emergency response. CTEH had those capabilities more so than any other company: from air monitoring, data management, and toxicology to having sound systems for collecting and reporting community and worker exposure numbers. They knew what was safe. They had a track record of consistently being very, very good as compared to other companies.
CTEH really invests in its resources, personnel and training. Its response time capability by having an airplane was huge. At TCEQ, we all had to drive over in our trucks, often across Texas – and CTEH was already on the ground before we got there. They have always been known for acquiring quality data, but a difference maker, to me, was their team’s high level of training and commitment to mentoring. That really made them stand out to me. So when I got the call to come join, you can imagine it wasn’t a very tough decision for me.
You’ve taken over an important division at CTEH. Tell us more about your team and some of your plans going forward.
The Toxicology Emergency Response Program serves as the primary response arm of our company. We respond to emergency chemical releases across the United States, Canada and Mexico, and more recently a response in Africa. Our group is on call 24/7/365 – and we respond within two hours of the initial call with the goal of being onsite within four hours. We are always ready.
Our team consists of eight project managers and over 60 environmental scientists, all degreed professionals. I was fortunate to inherit such a great, innovative group. So what do I bring to the table? I help them with organization and readiness preparedness. And my job is to continue the great work that was already in place when I got here.
In addition, I want to provide growth opportunities for our team members. I want CTEH to continue providing extensive training for our own personnel but also others in the industry. In fact, we provide annual training to clients and work closely with state regulatory entities already. But we can do more.
Several on our team have expressed a desire to grow professionally by also learning more multi-media response techniques such as soil and water – plus air. We are becoming more multi-media savvy, and I believe expanding our work into soil and water monitoring is another significant growth opportunity for us. Not only will these services be more convenient for our clients but it will also help ensure our team members are more well-rounded going forward.
For example, on a recent client response, we provided air monitoring, community monitoring, site monitoring, worker exposure monitoring, soil contamination/assessment, surface water contaminant assessment (which includes evaluation of soil sediment and surface water). This type of multi-media response capability provides significant value to the client. They don’t have to farm out and supervise all the various services to a handful of companies. In this instance, our team can handle all aspects of the emergency response, freeing up the client to focus its efforts on the actual response and the impact, if any, on the community and the environment.
In the end, it’s about developing strong relationships with our clients while providing exceptional quality of work – with a sense of urgency and immediacy on their behalf.