Dr. CHERYL BLY-CHESTER, P.E.
She has continued to engage in civil engineering throughout her career, most recently completing FEMA studies for several houses located in the American River flood plain in Sacramento. Her disciplined, solution-oriented thinking developed through engineering, has served her well in all areas of consulting.
Energy/Nuclear Power Engineering
Though this effort produced many good contacts in Washington D.C., it was not long before the company took note of Dr. Bly-Chester's extensive concrete design experience and assigned her to a task force in Texas to re-inspect the concrete base mat and containment of a nuclear power plant. Later in her career, she was able to return to sustainable energy studies working on bio-mass plant permitting, co-generation opportunities in California, solar and wind energy studies in California and New Mexico, and small hydroelectric projects in southern Africa. First though, she conducted safety inspections at Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant.
One inspection led to another and by the end of a year, she had written inspection instructions and led inspection teams for several of the plant systems, including piping, seismic supports, valves, and coatings. She returned to Washington D.C. at the time of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster in 1986 and researched Soviet RMBK Reactors, preparing white papers for the Principal Nuclear Engineers who were supporting Secretary of Energy Herrington's policy statements and position papers at the Innsbruck IAEA response summit for the disaster. That year, she attended MIT for special sessions, receiving a certificate in Nuclear Power Reactor Safety. She was active on several national committees in the nuclear power industry sponsored by EPRI, DOD and DOE. She worked on litigation cases, conducted international studies on various practices within the nuclear power industry, and assisted with technology transfer projects, including silenced valve technology for the submarine US Navy.
Her nuclear power experience led her in 1988 to work on an international research project studying the long-term disposal scenarios for high-level radioactive waste under consideration by the nuclear power nations at the time. This in turn led to studying the consequences of releases of radioactive, toxic, and mixed waste to soil and groundwater. Her studies and interests developed into an environmental career in the hazardous waste remediation field, which she began in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Environmental Engineering Experience
Bly-Chester was an early developer of the Phase I and Phase II Environmental Assessment practice, formulating the lender criteria for several banks, including Wells Fargo. She contributed to criteria set by the Association of Soils and Foundation Engineers and to the E-50 and E-51 Committees of ASTM. She was also responsible for establishing the Environmental Assessment groups for Dames and Moore (now in URS), Kleinfelder, Inc., Levine Fricke (now ARCADIS), TerraSearch (now RMA Group of Northern California) and Rosewood Environmental Engineering. As group manager for these consulting firms, and as contracted interim managers for three banks reviewing environmental assessment due diligence documentation, Dr. Bly-Chester has been directly involved in conducting or reviewing thousands of environmental assessments covering a broad spectrum of industries. Her projects have taken her around the world evaluating environmental resources and hazardous materials liabilities in Europe, the Pacific Rim, Africa, and Latin America. Her primary area of studies has been in California.
Dr. Bly-Chester’s many environmental engineering projects included reclamation plans for a limestone quarry in California, a Rhyolite mine in Nevada, and several gravel quarries. She also conducted assessment of multiple Natural Gas fields and one oil field. She has also consulted in bringing several abandoned mine sites up to residential, school, and hospital use standards by remediating toxic concentrations of heavy metals, asbestos containing tailings, and acidic waste water.
Professional Leadership and Political Appointments
Dr. Bly-Chester served on the Interagency Collaborative Effort Committee addressing emergency levee repairs along the Sacramento River and Cache Creek under Governor Schwarzenegger’s State of Emergency declaration. She also served as the lead for permitting issues for the board.
While on the Reclamation Board, Mrs. Bly-Chester demonstrated her ability to bring stakeholders and agencies together. She initiated stakeholder taskforce meetings to remove sediment accumulated over 20 years from the Tisdale and Sutter Bypasses. The meetings were attended by regulatory and operations officers from the Army Corps of Engineers, local agricultural and landowner interests, Fish and Game, Fish and Wildlife Service, DWR, The CV RWQCB, NOAA Fisheries, the SMGB, three local reclamation districts, Woodland Biomass Power, Ltd., and three construction materials companies.
In addition, Dr. Bly-Chester moderated negotiations among CalTrans, DWR, Reclamation Board, and local reclamation district attorneys and engineers to resolve a long-standing impasse about responsibility to repair levees collocated with Hwy 160. The resulting MOU enabled critical repairs to proceed on levee failures that occurred due to wave wash erosion and flooding during the New Years storms of 2006. Dr. Bly-Chester also assisted SAFCA and WAPA in preparing conditional permit language acceptable to the Reclamation Board to allow improvements in the flood conveyance corridor involving construction near endangered species.
Dr. Bly-Chester was the leader of the Reclamation Board Taskforce on Permitting bringing the permit processes into compliance with the California Permit Streamlining Act. She also served on the Board’s committee addressing application of the 1899 408 law (over the 208.10 regulation) to vest authorization of levee alterations in the Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers. The committee met with the Division and District Commanders, engineers, and attorneys of USACE, and held a committee meeting attended by several stakeholders as well as congressional and state legislative offices.
Dr. Bly Chester was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger to the California Emergency Council, Emergency Public Advisory Workgroup, Construction, Engineering and Debris Removal Committee representing the Society of American Military Engineers. As a member of the Academy of Fellows with the Society of American Military Engineers, her efforts have been directed towards Homeland Security and Readiness Planning for over a decade. In 1999, as President of the Sacramento Post, she developed the current Readiness Program to prepare for Y2K. She has served as an officer or director of the Post since 1994.
Dr. Bly-Chester is an Expert Advisor to the UC Berkeley Center for Catastrophic Risk Management (CCRM), which focuses on disaster preparedness and recovery. Through CCRM, she worked on a grant from the National Science Foundation to study Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructures in the San Francisco Bay Delta. The infrastructures included water delivery, water security, power delivery, transportation, communication and the environment. Dr. Bly-Chester led the Stakeholder analysis for the study and conducted field assessment health and Safety and notation standardization workshops for the participants. She has been a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley’s graduate programs in environmental engineering and systems engineering departments.
In 2010 – 2011, Dr. Bly-Chester served as a Placer County Parks Commissioner. The Park Commissioners together develop policy and provide direction to the County’s Parks Division and advise the Board of Supervisors on all matters related to public parks and recreation in Placer County, including but not limited to funding and grant programs.
In her career, Dr. Bly-Chester has also been involved in BRAC hazardous waste clean-up work. She worked as a subcontractor on large Navy CLEAN Contracts for several years with Levine-Fricke, Inc., and on some innovative hazardous waste remediation projects with clients for both Dames and Moore and Levine-Fricke. However, her most prominent hazardous waste-related engineering position was as the Program Manager of Operations and Maintenance contracts for Tetra Tech, Inc. She was the Project Manager for the $150 million O&M contract at McClellan AFB in Sacramento that included the base’s five wastewater treatment plants and several groundwater remediation systems.
Additional environmental engineering included providing expert witness testimony on environmental assessments; reclamation projects: erosion control and sediment implications; and on grading issues. She has consulted on sites including: electronics facilities, plastics facilities, food production plants, meat packing plants, recycling facilities, electrical generation facilities (e.g.: cogeneration plants, biomass, geothermal, industrial heat exchange, nuclear, solar and wind energy), automobile manufacturing sites, highways and highway structures, railroad corridors and facilities, airports, landfills, mines and quarries, natural gas well sites, bioresearch facilities, medical/hospital facilities, military bases, prisons, service stations, dry cleaners, telecommunications centers, agricultural sites, forest lands, nurseries, wineries, golf and ski resorts, warehouses, and commercial, retail, office buildings, and Native American lands.
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