Here at A3 Environmental Consultants, we’ve found the general public doesn’t know much about what we do and has more than a few preconceived notions. This post is about some of the the things we’ve come across which people frequently didn’t know.
Once soil is contaminated, there’s no cleaning it. No matter what we do, once contamination is in the soil, the only thing that fixes it is a lot of time. We have a rhyme in environmental consulting, “Dilution is the solution to pollution.” Of course this is different than saying the soil or water is “Clean”. It never is. If you have a gas station which has leaked down the street from you, there’s a good chance that the plume of pollution will be in the soil in detectable amounts for hundreds of years. Think about that for a second, this country has been a country since 1776. That’s only 245 years. That gas station down the street could be contaminated for longer than that.
Environmental remediation often means keeping pollution from spreading. We use what are called “Engineered Barriers” which is a fancy way of saying, “We’re going to put a parking lot over the top of it.” Parking lots keep rainwater from moving pollution offsite. Often, that’s the best we can hope for.
Gasoline and oil are not the worst pollutants. When you’re in the environmental remediation business you find yourself inevitably making judgements on what a “good” versus “bad” spill are. When you’re tasked with remediating a gasoline or oil spill you’re happy because petroleum products float on water. This creates a lower limit to how far these products travel. It doesn’t help the lateral travel of the contamination, but at least it’s not going deeper.
Often you will hear of a crusty environmental consultant telling of “free product” trapped in a pocket, floating on the groundwater. I personally know a site with 6 vertical feet of free product which was 50 years old, we pumped and treated the water and separated the fuel for use in the site owner’s truck.
The worst things we come across are dry cleaning fluid and heavy metals. Dry cleaning fluid is what’s known as a DNAPL. It means “Dense Non Aqueous Phase Liquid”. To you and I, that means it’s heavier than water and sinks to the bottom of an aquifer. Environmental consultants, when faced with task of remediating dry cleaners, often find themselves “chasing the plume” of contamination. Heavy metals are another nasty. They are a threat to human health because they are toxic to drink. Heavy metals form salts that readily dissolve in water which makes them highly mobile. If they wind up in public and private water wells they can cause all sorts of problems.
Often environmental remediation means digging out contamination and hauling it off to a landfill. Hauling the soil of a contaminated site to a landfill and backfilling the hole with crushed stone is more about moving contamination than it is about cleaning it. But landfills are designed to hold contamination in with double waterproof liners. People don’t realize it but landfills are the environmental consultant’s partner in disposing of hazardous wastes and contamination.
What Environmental Consulting Firms Do:
We don’t save the environment. Environmental consultants help people and industry protect themselves from risk, both financial and health and human safety related, from hazardous materials in the soil and groundwater. Our job is to minimize the risks to a business while complying with the letter of the laws and regulations in whichever state we are operating in. Almost exclusively the businesses we work for are the developers, industrialists and banks.
Environmental Engineering Companies and Environmental Consultants are not the same thing. Engineers have engineering degrees and professional licenses with the state they operate in. Environmental consultants can have all kind of degrees. We have professional licenses too. A3 Environmental has three Professional Geologists on staff. We have one on the team who’s working on the CHMM designation.
If you need Environmental Remediation, research or testing done on your property or one you are interested in purchasing, give A3 Environmental Consultants a call. We’ll get your project done with the utmost in confidentiality, we’ll meet or exceed ASTM Standard E1903-19 on any sort of commercial or industrial property. Our Assessments meet the requirements of all lenders and government agencies such as the Small Business Administration (SBA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). A3 Environmental Consultants can be reached at (888) 405-1742 or by email at Info@A3E.com.