Brownfields — Assessment & Remediation
CHALLENGE A developer wanted to purchase a three-acre parcel in downtown Atlanta, Georgia for mixed-use redevelopment. To obtain a Limitation of Liability (LOL) under the Brownfield’s program, the client hired EarthCon to prepare a Brownfield corrective action plan (CAP). Due to delays in the sales and financing negotiations, the property closing was moved towards the end of the approved CAP’s site assessment/remediation activities schedule. This delay placed the project on a fast track schedule to have all assessment/remediation activities completed and obtain the Limitation of Liability (LOL) before scheduled construction activities could begin.
BUSINESS SOLUTION Within 90 days EarthCon was able to complete the entire project from inception to receipt of the Brownfields limitation of liability letter. The GA EPD featured this project in their 2009 State of the Environment report.
The approved CAP included site-specific clean-up criteria which led to EarthCon being able to pin-point areas of the site requiring soil remediation, and expedite delineation and excavation. To demonstrate that contaminated soils at depth were actually related to existing groundwater contamination, EarthCon prepared additional data submittals and met with Georgia EPD personnel to obtain same-day approval. This agreement allowed deeper soils to remain in place resulting in significant cost savings and kept the project on schedule. Further coordination took place between EarthCon and the client’s demolition contractor to conduct asbestos and TCLP testing of onsite materials and schedule assessment and remediation activities around ongoing demolition. The compliance status report was prepared for submittal and agency approval was received within two weeks.
Demolition Oversight – Environmental Assessment – Industrial Hygiene
CHALLENGE A twelve-story historical hotel building in the downtown area of Jackson, Mississippi was closed after an operating history of 106 years. The facility was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and declared a Mississippi Landmark. The new owners wanted to restore and reopen the property. The City selected EarthCon to conduct an environmental assessment in 2004. In 2007, EarthCon was selected to conduct comprehensive Industrial Hygiene services including assessments of asbestos, lead-based paint, and microbial hazards from vermin infestations.
EarthCon was subsequently contracted to provide technical supervision and air monitoring services for the abatement of biological hazards, lead-based paint, and asbestos prior to and during the gross renovation activities.
APPROACH EarthCon developed the initial decontamination protocols for the 12-story building with two basement levels. After an initial cleaning of loose debris, pigeon droppings, vermin wastes, insects, and general dirt and dust, the controlled removal of asbestos-containing materials began. This was followed by removal of general demolition debris and lead-based paint treatment under air-monitoring and clearance testing on a floor-by-floor basis. Two months after providing an official notice of the demolition and renovation activities to the State Environmental Agency, asbestos abatement activities began. Additional services included air sampling, waste characterization sampling, and personnel monitoring during lead-based paint disturbances. EarthCon representatives attended weekly planning meetings with the project managers, architects, and contractors, and participated in health and safety training activities throughout the demolition and structural renovation activities.
BUSINESS SOLUTION Within 18 months after the initial notice to the State of demolition and renovation activities, EarthCon prepared a final 2,500 page “Environmental Oversight and Completion Report.” The report documented the environmental, health, and safety measures that were performed during the demolition and structural renovation and presented a management plan for lead-based paint that could not be removed from load-bearing structural steel members. The restored landmark hotel is once again providing a home for urban Jacksonians, suitable for entertaining guests visiting Mississippi’s capitol on state business, enjoying some down-home blues, or spending an evening out on the town.
CHALLENGE A chemical pesticide formulating, packaging, and warehousing company was in the process of refinancing two facilities. The bank was following Small Business Administration guidelines and had selected an outside consultant to complete a Phase I and a follow up Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. The concentration results of those assessments were inconclusive and had a number of issues that required further evaluation. EarthCon was selected by the company to review the initial findings by the former consultant and laboratory. The goal was to help them obtain No Further Action letters from the State Agency so that the properties could be refinanced.
The bank had a one-month refinancing window to comply with SBA allocation goals. During the initial Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments conducted by another consultant, the laboratory reports identified a number of compounds that had never been handled at the site during their operations. The report data had been presented to the State’s environmental agency.
APPROACH EarthCon reviewed the prior Phase II ESA Report, assessment and analytical methodology. A limited subsurface assessment, along with soil and groundwater sampling, interviews and lab analytical tests were conducted. The purpose was to determine impacts where concentrations of organic pesticides and/or chlorinated herbicides were in excess of regulatory standards, and assess storage practices. EarthCon’s Limited Subsurface Assessment Report was utilized to submit a No Further Action request to the State Agency for one of the sites. At the second facility, EarthCon identified some issues and negotiated a limited scope monitoring in place program with the State Agency that satisfied the lending institution and SBA.
BUSINESS SOLUTION Within 30 days, EarthCon completed the project and helped the client obtain a No Further Action status on one site along with approval by the State Agency for limited monitoring on the second site. Based upon these results, the bank was able to provide refinancing within the SBA guidelines and timeframe. EarthCon has continued to monitor the second site and the pesticide impacts (Isophorone and Alachlor compounds) are no longer at detectable levels.
Remediation Design & Implementation
CHALLENGE The State was aware of an issue at the retail operation and EarthCon was contracted to conduct a Preliminary Site Assessment. During that assessment, 8.53 feet of free phase gasoline was observed in monitoring well MW-1. Based on the findings, MDEQ requested that EarthCon develop a Turnkey Remedial Action Package (TRAP) to address the petroleum soil and groundwater contamination. The TRAP was submitted, approved the following month and EarthCon installed a dual phase groundwater remediation system one month later.
APPROACH The facility was a small, corner gas station with tight quarters, a narrow alley way in the back, and a busy intersection with vehicle traffic along both sides with access to the pump islands and the store. EarthCon was tasked with installing a remediation system with minimal disruption to the existing gas station business and ensure a rapid remediation of the free-phase product in order to provide a more marketable property to the future owners.
BUSINESS SOLUTION EarthCon’s remediation strategy helped the client reduce their monthly remediation system use rate by 50% and maintain a system monthly run time of greater than 90%. The solution involved the redesign, installation, operation and maintenance of a trailer-mounted dual-phased used remediation system housed in a sound dampening enclosure to recover contaminated soil vapor, free-phase fuel and contaminated groundwater. The remediation system was located such that vehicle access to the store and pump islands was not impeded. Trenching was conducted during a period of ownership transition to minimize impacts to traffic flow. EarthCon worked with neighboring property owners to install off site monitoring wells. EarthCon technicians conducted monthly monitoring of the remediation activities, maintenance on the remediation system and conducted groundwater sampling. EarthCon project managers and senior engineers worked with MDEQ throughout the process to communicate remediation progress and generate the No Further Action letter for the site. Approximately 1,500 gallons of fuel was removed from the recovery wells over a three year period of remediation. The site was granted No Further Action status in 2010.
Engineering & Design
Leachate – System Analysis, Design & Construction
CHALLENGE A client’s business goal was two-fold – reduce site’s overall long-term O&M
costs associated with a closed landfill that handled mill wastes, and comply with State regulations requiring post closure leachate on-site treatment before appropriate disposal.
BUSINESS SOLUTION EarthCon’s off-site disposal post-closure strategy is projected to help the client reduce up to 75% of the site’s leachate management costs and provide a long-term O&M cost reduction of greater than 50% of current costs.
Groundwater/Surface Water Contamination Issues
CHALLENGE A client’s landfill liner systems and multi-layer final cover system were compromised. Ground and surface water contamination was encountered.
BUSINESS SOLUTION EarthCon’s investigation, design and permitting of alternative liner systems helped to control the escape of leachate and reduce the cost of post closure care by more than 50%.
Methane Issues – Methane Control System Design/Implementation
CHALLENGE Landfill had numerous vegetation kills, high methane readings in perimeter methane monitoring points, and sporadic readings in methane venting system. This led to regulatory questions regarding the effectiveness of the site’s overall methane control system.
BUSINESS SOLUTION EarthCon’s investigation led to a methane control system design and implementation that was approved by the regulatory agency and eliminated the requirement for further off-site investigation and monitoring.
Stormwater Issues – Storm Water Management System Design/Build
CHALLENGE A client’s system was insufficient to manage contact and non-contact stormwater from site operations. During high-rainfall activities this led to operational flooding, shut-downs and loss of revenue.
BUSINESS SOLUTION EarthCon’s design/build/install solution helped the client effectively manage high-rainfall events, meet permitting requirements and eliminate prior interruptions to operations.
Vapor Intrusion Mitigation Design & Installation
CHALLENGE One of the largest retail pharmaceutical companies in Canada was in the process of timely expansion. As part of their due diligence effort, the client contacted EarthCon to conduct a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. The project involved the redevelopment of a 40+ year old, 16,000 square foot building that had previously undergone numerous renovations. Most recently, the property had been used as an auto dealership and the results of the environmental assessment indicated petroleum product impact in the underlying soils. The Client asked EarthCon to address the potential for vapor intrusion into the store’s air space from the underlying impacted soils while staying within their three-month construction schedule.
APPROACH A decision had been made to maintain the original building structure. Therefore, any new design and install would need to be retrofitted. The structure contained multi-level slabs – one at ground level and another at basement level. The Client was on an aggressive construction schedule and multiple parties were involved in communications related to the design and implementation of the construction. The team included the owner, architect/designer, general contractor and sub-specialty contractor.
BUSINESS SOLUTION EarthCon developed and implemented a seamless vapor intrusion system design/install to meet the client’s opening schedule deadline. Project highlights included mitigation system design and permitting, along with successful interactive communications with the construction team to help the client achieve their store opening.
EHS Compliance, Litigation Support, Permitting & Training
Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Compliance
CHALLENGE An international energy company was operating numerous natural gas facilities in Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas and ramping up construction efforts at newly acquired properties. With no in-house Environmental resources, the company turned to EarthCon for Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) inspection and training resources.
APPROACH Located on one of the country’s largest natural gas pipelines, the underground storage facilities required a stellar health and safety team to identify and avoid hazards. EarthCon’s EHS professionals conducted walk-through inspections of fire and safety equipment as well as noise monitoring. Monthly employee EHS seminars were conducted at multiple sites and based upon conditions, EarthCon developed customized safety curriculum, including quizzes to provide proactive steps to avoid accidents and mishaps. As part of the drilling operation inspections activities, safety violations were observed and EarthCon immediately shut down operations until the situation was remedied.
BUSINESS SOLUTION EarthCon’s integrated EHS programs have helped the client identify real hazards, as well as avoid catastrophic hazards and EHS violations. The customized EHS programs and facility visits have instilled a culture of safety at the various sites. On many occasions, the client has asked EarthCon to repeat lessons-learned sessions. One example is when an EarthCon professional noticed that grating and railing were missing from a mud-mixing container on a 16-wheel drilling rig, and he halted drilling. Another incident was when a contractor drilling water had a kickback that sent 1,200 feet of pipe into the air. No one was injured, but EarthCon’s EHS professional was on site to take photos at the time of the incident. He documented the hazards that occurred as a result of a drilling contractor’s mishap. The client used these photos as evidence and documentation in court proceedings. Due to our successful EHS performance on this contract, the client invites EarthCon to its annual EHS workshop, where we are the only consulting firm to offer EHS input to leading executives.
Expert Witness – Soil Sampling Interpretation for Litigation Support
An oil producing company was facing a civil lawsuit for $651,000 in environmental damages. The case involved a claim that approximately 1.13 acres of the approximately 170 acre property was heavily contaminated with petroleum-based product, and the claim was backed up by their Consultant’s sampling report. The remote property was adjacent to historic (50 year old) producing oil wells and including heavily overgrown woodlands and wetlands. The case was remanded to the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board for investigation and ruling on a request for the damages. EarthCon was brought in to review the data, provide an alternate plan and participate as an Expert Witness.
Access to the property, as well as onsite activities were subject to the scrutiny of the complainant. Repeated trips to the remote site were necessary to collect duplicate samples from complainant’s sampling activities.
APPROACH After a review of the complainant’s consultant report, EarthCon discovered serious errors in the legal complaint support documents. EarthCon subsequently performed a systematic soil sampling event in accordance with EPA sampling protocol, and demonstrated that the complainant’s data was biased and invalid.
BUSINESS SOLUTION EarthCon’s findings helped the client negotiate an agreed order with the Oil and Gas Board for a $15,000.00 remediation of visibly contaminated soil and elevated chloride concentrations. This agreed upon remediation was appealed by the complainant. The Mississippi Oil and Gas Board denied the claims of the Complainant, and ruled unanimously in favor of the EarthCon client.
CHALLENGE A large natural resource corporation sold a photochemical mixing facility to a specialty products corporation in Florida. As part of the property transaction, the seller had agreed to reimburse the purchaser for “minor” environmental remediation and monitoring costs required by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) as part of closure of the existing underground storage tanks. Following the property transaction, the new owner proceeded with an extensive environmental investigation and remedial excavation, and submitted work plans to FDEP for a groundwater monitoring network in the shallow and deep aquifers. Following completion of these activities, the new owner demanded reimbursement of past expenditures and projected future costs in excess of $1,000,000.
APPROACH EarthCon personnel were retained to evaluate the remedial investigation and hazardous waste disposal activities conducted at the facility by the new owner. Our activities included a site visit, evaluation of different disposal options, and thorough review of investigation data collected at the facility since the property transfer. Through careful reconstruction of the different phases of the environmental investigation, it was determined that at several key decision points, the new owner had elected to install additional boreholes, or conduct unnecessary soil removal that were not warranted for site closure. In addition, we were able to identify alternative disposal facilities, which resulted in significantly lower costs. Finally, we were able to negotiate a greatly reduced scope of work with the (FDEP) for the groundwater investigations, which reduced the number of permanent monitoring wells from eleven to five.
BUSINESS SOLUTION After submittal of several technical reports and the subsequent negotiations, the purchaser agreed to a negotiated settlement and release of liability. These activities resulted in the client saving in excess of $600,000.
Site Characterization — NPL Site Under CERCLA Superfund Program
CHALLENGE A former industrial manufacturing facility in the southeastern United States had been placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) under the Federal Superfund program. During the course of completing the Remedial Investigation (RI), four inorganic analytes (metals) and chlorinated volatile organic compounds (CVOCs) were detected in groundwater above groundwater cleanup standards. In response, USEPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) requiring a site-wide groundwater remedy for the metals at an estimated cost of over $20,000,000 and implementation of a separate remedy to address CVOCs in an isolated area of the property at an estimated cost of $3,000,000.
APPROACH EarthCon personnel were retained by the PRP to evaluate alternatives to the remedy for metals in groundwater. After bifurcation of the Remedial Design process to allow the CVOC and metals remedies to track separately, a focused investigation of metals concentrations was conducted to determine representative metals concentrations in groundwater. The focused investigation included the design of refined purging and sampling protocols to reduce artificial entrainment of soil particles that might contain naturally-occurring metals. Additionally, the groundwater recovery and treatment program for CVOCs specified in the ROD was reevaluated in order to determine whether treatment of groundwater was necessary prior to discharge to the publicly-owned treatment works (POTW).
BUSINESS SOLUTION The $250,000 focused study resulted in the determination that metals were not present in groundwater and that remediation was not necessary. After significant negotiations, USEPA and the state agency concurred and the $20,000,000 remedy was vacated. In addition, an Explanation of Significant Difference (ESD) was developed to eliminate the treatment of recovered groundwater impacted by CVOCs. As a result of direct discharge of the recovered groundwater, the portion of the groundwater remedy for the CVOCs was cut in half (approximately $1,500,000).
Corrective Action Plan & Site Closure
CHALLENGE A paper and packaging products company formerly owned a property comprised of several hundred acres which were listed on the State’s Hazardous Site Inventory. EarthCon was selected to help the client evaluate the data and develop a closure strategy.
APPROACH The property contained an unregulated, unlined abandoned landfill with outstanding compliance issues. The new owner wanted to expand their site redevelopment, but was not able to proceed until the site compliance issues were addressed.
BUSINESS SOLUTION EarthCon developed and negotiated a closure strategy that resulted in the elimination of 90% of the site’s compliance issues, saving the client hundreds of thousands of dollars. No active remediation was required. The remaining 10% of the site was placed under a five-year monitoring program. The client was able to walk away from the site and the new owner was able to proceed with redevelopment. Project highlights included evaluations of key existing data, the development of cleanup criteria and limited data collection to verify compliance. Based upon those findings, EarthCon developed a Corrective Action Plan and entered into negotiations with the State agency.
Pulp & Paper Manufacturing Company Site Management Program
CHALLENGE A former wood treating facility hired an international consulting firm, who generated 200 tons of hazardous waste as part of a corrective action on the property. The client had to pay a large tax assessed by the State when the waste was disposed. EarthCon was hired to provide Site Management Program (SMP) services for the facility’s portfolio. These tasks included the management of a wide range of site portfolio issues to help the client stay in compliance, manage risks and allocate appropriate environmental reserve funds.
APPROACH During the course of EarthCon’s Site Manager’s project review, he identified opportunities for savings in the State’s hazardous waste tax code. Additional research paid off when he discovered an exemption that afforded significant tax savings. After notifying the Department of Revenue personnel of the applicability of the exemption, the client’s consultant and the disposal firm who collected the taxes on behalf of the state were also informed.
BUSINESS SOLUTION EarthCon’s review helped the client immediately recover more than $8,000 in taxes that were mistakenly assessed. We implemented steps to help the client receive additional future tax reductions, estimated at an average annual savings of $5,000 to $10,000 over the course of the following five years.
International Manufacturing Company Site Management Case Study
CHALLENGE A project manager for a large, international manufacturing company was seeking a means to reduce their management burden across a portfolio of closed landfill sites. Having overseen the management of these sites for several years, the client felt that all the cost savings had been captured by their current consultants, but decided to try EarthCon’s Site Services approach.
BUSINESS SOLUTION EarthCon transitioned the sites from multiple consultants and delivered nearly $60,000 in reduced annual costs during the first year under the SMP, with more savings opportunities still being evaluated and implemented. The client was delighted with EarthCon’s results and expressed that their expectations were exceeded. The program gave them more time to deal with higher priority matters now that their legacy sites were under a comprehensive management program that produced real savings and maintained compliance.
Forest Products Company SMP Case Study
CHALLENGE The client was seeking a way to reduce the reserves and management commitments he was carrying for a portfolio of sites. The most important criterion in his selection process was the ability to reduce the costs of managing these sites while maintaining compliance. His portfolio included closed industrial waste landfills, active and closed wood treating facilities, an active resin manufacturing plant and an active paper mill. The sites had a variety of soil and groundwater contamination issues. There were state and Federal agency requirements for long-term monitoring, reporting and inspections under hazardous waste, solid waste, and petroleum-release remediation regulations. In addition, a number of sites had remediation systems in place using a range of treatment technologies.
BUSINESS SOLUTION For the past nine years, EarthCon has been managing these sites, and every year the cumulative costs have decreased while handling all site requirements at times including scope increases. During 2010, the client’s project costs were reduced by $201,000 (10.16%). In 2009, EarthCon’s Site Management Program reduced the client’s costs by $195,000 (9.57%).