Environmental Remediation Services: How They are Used to Reduce Stress

In cases where significant environmental contamination has been identified, Environmental Remediation Services help to remedy a property of environmental liabilities. A remediation strategy is tailored to meet site-specific requirements from site investigation to viable regulatory closure, by using remedial design and project management. In this blog, Douglas Reid, Senior Vice President of Environmental Services with over 27 years in environmental risk management, provides insights as to how Remediation Services offer an advantage to clients who are looking to back an impacted property.

What is Environmental Remediation?

Environmental remediation is the removal of pollution or contaminants from environmental media such as air, soil, and groundwater. A property with environmental contamination is a financial and ecological hazard to on-site and nearby occupants, and poses a liability concern to title holders. After petroleum and/or chemical contamination has been identified through investigation, remedial solutions are applied to attenuate the impact. Methods to remediate identified surface/subsurface environmental concerns include excavation, dredging, oxidation, soil vapor extraction, thermal desorption, and pump and treat; just to list a few. 

Remediation services typically begin after the completion of initial Environmental Site Assessments (Phase I or Transaction Screen) and Subsurface Investigations (drilling and testing) to confirm the presence of environmental impact. The Environmental Professional completing remedial services does not have to have completed the initial environmental site assessments; however, they should be very familiar with the prior assessments, subsurface data, and other pertinent details relating to the site. 

The scope of remediation projects vary widely. Factors that affect the scope of remediation can include site specific features, structures, limitations, the types of chemicals contaminating the site, media contaminated, the area/volume of the site affected, migration pathways, regulatory requirements, and client goals. It is not uncommon for more than one remedial strategy to be implemented at a site.

Five Steps Involved in Offering Environmental Remediation Services

1. Selection of a Competent Environmental Professional.

  • Consultants should have proper licensing and preferably be familiar with the region in which the remedial work is to occur, or be able to assemble the proper team of professionals.  The consultant should also be familiar with regulatory requirements, how to navigate communication and information sharing with the regulator, and the programs the regulators have available.
  • The Environmental Professional completing remedial services does not need to have completed the prior environmental site investigations. Factors most important are competency, experience, and time/cost effective methods to remediation.

2. The Completion or Review of Prior Environmental Investigations.

The investigations should answer the following questions:

  • Where is the contamination?
  • What hazardous materials, petroleum products, or chemicals have contaminated the property?
  • How much area/volume has been impacted?
  • What are the subsurface characteristics of the property?

3. Remediation Design and Planning.

  • Typically, more than one strategy can be used to address the contamination on a property.
  • Feasibility studies (pilot studies) may be needed in the planning stage to collect data to design an effective remedial approach.
  • An experienced Environmental Professional will evaluate and to be able to offer more than one solution to address the contamination issue. This allows the client to be well informed of the strategies to effectively remediate the contamination, cost to implement, and estimated timetable to bring the project to completion.

4. Implementation and Execution of the Selected Remedial Strategy.

  • During this process, measurements and data are collected to ensure the remedial technique is working as anticipated.
  • Scheduled monitoring allows the Environmental Professional to collect data such as groundwater contaminant concentrations, volume of chemicals or petroleum product collected, or the concentration of contaminants absorbed into media used as part of the remedial strategy.
  • On-going monitoring and routine maintenance can occur monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or even annually depending on the remedial design. Frequency can also vary over time as new data, and more importantly trends, are revealed that are used to guide the Environmental Professional on effectiveness of the remedial strategy.
  • It is important to remember that adjustments to the remedial strategy are often necessary to ensure a favorable outcome.

5. Issuance of Closure Reports.

  • Closure to the remediation should always include a report that summarizes the remedial work completed so that future readers of the report will be able to understand all of the work performed.
  • Baseline conditions, or the measured presence of remaining contamination, if any, is important to understand when considering the potential value of a property. It will also reduce liability for title holders in the event a new contamination incident occurs.
  • Closure will also often include regulatory sign-off.

Case Study

LCS was involved in an environmental remediation project located in New York State. The property consisted of an active retail gasoline service station and convenience store along with a multi-tenant commercial building. The project began with a subsurface investigation that identified the significant presence of petroleum contamination in soil and groundwater samples. Subsequent investigations were completed to delineate the extent of contamination.  A geophysical survey also identified a group of anomalies that may have represented underground storage tanks (USTs) on the subject property. With this information, excavation was completed confirming the presence of USTs. The USTs were removed along with in-ground hydraulic lifts in the existing service station to remove any source of impact. 

Based on the results of these investigations, high-vacuum extraction events and quarterly groundwater sampling was completed for four years. Oxygen injection coupled with the application of hydrocarbon degrading bacteria, with continued quarterly groundwater monitoring, was completed for the following six years. These efforts resulted in a steady decline in contamination levels that were routinely reviewed by the regulatory agency.  

As a result of a proposed property use change that included site redevelopment and excavation, the remedial strategy changed and was approved by the regulatory agency.  In total, approximately 35,000 tons of petroleum contaminated soils and historically impacted fill material was excavated for off-site disposal. After the excavation pit was backfilled with clean material, permanent wells were installed as part of the remedial strategy to monitor groundwater quality. Groundwater monitoring results identified the presence of petroleum constituents slightly above regulatory criteria. However, based on the low levels of petroleum analytes detected, the limitations (nearby structure and utilities that limited excavation areas) at the site, and the removal of the bulk of contaminated soils and fill, it was concluded that the remaining impact would naturally degrade over time.  The regulatory agency agreed with the assessment and issued final closure to the site.

Choosing a Consultant That Provides Environmental Remediation Services

The case study discussed above is one example of how Environmental Remediation Services can provide a remedy to a contaminated property from site investigation to viable regulatory closure.  A properly designed remedial strategy will lead to reduced risk and liability for a property when complete. The following additional benefits can be expected when working with a consultant who provides Remediation Services: 

  • Increased efficiency
  • Reduced cost
  • A single point of contact
  • Increased accountability
  • Streamlined communication

And as always….

LCS listens to your needs to develop products that are right for your lending transaction. Whether that be an individual appraisal, environmental or construction report, or a combination of services, LCS will meet your needs in the most efficient, effective way possible.

To learn more, reach out to Liz Mahoney, Director of Sales & Business Development today.