Architects are interested in designing beautiful buildings.
Engineers are interested in making sure the architect’s beautiful buildings will remain standing.
Contractors execute the plants created by the architects and engineers.
So far, I haven’t told you anything new. Bear with me, we’re just getting started.
Table Of Contents
Environmental Due Diligence
When vacant land with historical uses is purchased, hopefully someone has the wisdom to do a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment to protect the buyer from the possibility the land they are purchasing is contaminated.
Far too often, environmental consultants like A3E suspect environmental concerns with soil or groundwater based on the property’s previous uses. This leads us to perform a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment.
When a landowner is really unfortunate, we confirm the presence of contaminated soil.
At this point decisions need to be made. Will the buyer continue with the purchase of the property? Or is the deal dead?
Developing Contaminated Property
When the price of land is high and the location is desirable, the purchase often proceeds, an environmental consultant is engaged to get a No Further Remediation Letter (NFR Letter) from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) through the Site Remediation Program (SRP).
But what happens when the design plans are done and the contractors are ready to build that new building?
Soil Management Plan
The contamination environmental consultants identified may have achieved IEPA closure with an NFR letter but it’s still in the ground. When the contractor begins the earthwork, they will be pushing soil around the site, excavating footings, basements, parking garages and stormwater retention basins.
Essentially, they could be smearing a contaminated mess around the worksite.
This is where environmental consultants can be useful again.
We can create a Soil Management Plan which guides the earthwork portion of the construction project. Using Computer Aided Drafting & Design (CADD) we outline on a map of the site, contaminated areas and clean areas. We work with the contractors to segregate clean soil from impacted soil. The clean fill can be reused anywhere on the property, while the impacted soil gets covered or hauled off to a Subtitle D landfill which is designed to hold the contaminants without letting them escape to the wider environment.
By carefully delineating the difference between the clean and “dirty” fill, environmental consultants help drive down costs for the earthwork portion of the project because Trucking and Disposal (T&D) of impacted soil is very expensive.
Soil Design & Oversight
Part of the service environmental consultants provide is to provide “oversight”. Essentially we have a person onsite who understands the project, the soil management plan and can keep a daily log of what soil got moved and to where. We call these log files, Inspector Daily Reports (IDR). We also handle the manifesting of the soil so we can prove on both sides where the soil was picked up and disposed of. The purpose of being so careful with the manifesting of soil shipments is to prevent fraud and to protect the site owner from environmental liability.
Laboratory & Environmental Database
In order to get the soil into a landfill, regardless of if it is a Clean Construction Demolition Debris (CCDD) landfill or a Subtitle D landfill, the operators of these facilities require environmental consultants to take samples and run them through a panel of tests at a certified laboratory. These tests delivered with the manifest paperwork prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the soil meets or falls below the Maximum Allowable Concentration (MAC) of certain toxins defined by the IEPA. We use our experience as environmental professionals to collect a representative amount of samples based on the volume being removed from the site. We call these “grab samples”. In addition we use our environmental database vendor (ERIS) to provide us with the best available information about the historic uses of the property the samples came from. This information helps us to prove to CCDD facility operators that the soil meets MAC values.