On occasion, I am asked about environmental issues and topics that are peripheral to what ESA does on a day-to-day basis. One such topic is fracking. And, for the most part, I read the same articles as you. Many of these articles are written with an inherent bias. This makes it difficult for the average person to arrive at an objective conclusion. By analyzing this trove of information through my own (admittedly biased) filters, I arrived at some tentative conclusions, which I will share in this article. I invite you to reach your own conclusions.
PCBs are a relatively common contaminant that can create expensive problems. Many people have heard of PCBs but do not know what they are, nor do they understand the relative degree of risk PCBs pose. This month's article describes PCBs: what they are, how they were used, where they are found, and how they are addressed when they impact a property.
Buyers and sellers of real estate know the importance of obtaining proper legal representation. But what does "proper" mean? As of 2012, according to the New Jersey Courts web site, there were more than 80,000 attorneys licensed to practice in the state of New Jersey. And according to AVVO (a web site that helps one find attorneys across the country), New Jersey has no less than 3,523 real estate attorneys from which to choose.
New Jersey's nickname is "The Garden State," but today's shopping malls, multi-lane highways and swaths of McMansions have nothing to do with gardens. It's easy to forget that throughout much of the 20th century, New Jersey was populated with small farms and orchards. Before we get carried away by nostalgia, let's acknowledge an issue we at ESA frequently encounter: pesticides in land formerly used for farming. Old MacDonald's farm may have looked quaint back then, but residual pesticides can disrupt your real estate transaction today. What steps can you take to ensure your deal doesn't "buy the farm"? That's our topic this month.
If you've been anywhere near a radio or a teenager this past year, you've heard Meghan Trainor sing "I'm all about that bass." Throughout the song, Ms. Trainor affirms, "No treble." In my line of work, I say, "It's all about that baseline. No trouble."
Environmental baseline studies are an important form of protection in many commercial real estate situations. However, people offer various reasons for failing to perform baseline studies.
When you are buying or selling a commercial or industrial property, or seriously considering doing so, it is probable that you will retain what I call the "holy trinity" of the real estate deal: a real estate broker, a real estate attorney and an environmental consultant. Here are three professionals who are retained to represent your best interests. But each professional has a different set of rules and guidelines he must follow, some of the rules each member of the team may follow openly conflict with one another, and that can cause problems, delays, or even nullify the deal. One way to keep deals moving forward is to know your players—their skills and limitations—and the specialized rules that govern their behavior.
This third and final article in the series identifies "hazardous chemicals" that you knowingly bring into your home, use, and generally do not fear. And nor should you fear these chemicals, but you should respect and understand them. And because some of these chemicals posses very real dangers, it behooves each homeowner to use them correctly. This means that one should always follow the manufacturer's directions.
If one's home is a sanctuary, then one's neighborhood is a safety net. Environmental cleanup projects are found in virtually every municipality. Do these cleanup projects themselves jeopardize neighborhood health and safety? And if environmental regulations are so stringent, why are there so many cleanups?
The general public is often confused and sometimes scared when they read or hear about "hazardous waste," "hazardous materials," or a "toxic substance." When the average person hears the "hazardous" or "toxic" words bandied about, I believe they conjure thoughts and images that often belie the truth. I will attempt to demystify this confusing subject and put in perspective that, for most of us on a day-to-day basis, hazardous substances are to be properly recognized, avoided most of the time (sometimes handled), and always respected.
Responsible parties (RPs) who have open cases with NJDEP's Site Remediation Program and who have not been taking action within the times prescribed by the Site Remediation Reform Act of 2009 (SRRA) will be getting a summons for failure to take action. These summonses will be issued regardless of your financial circumstances, the size of your project, the degree of hazard, or the relative degree of impact to human health and the environment.
Vapor intrusion is a nationally recognized environmental issue. In fact the latest revisions to the American Society of Testing Materials' standard (ASTM E1527-2013) for conducting Phase I Environmental Site Assessments place greater emphasis than ever before on examining the potential for vapor intrusion. Unchecked, vapor intrusion issues are potentially grave. It is no exaggeration to state that various health issues can be induced by chronic inhalation of certain volatile chemicals. This article explains vapor intrusion so you can remain vigilant both as a private homeowner and as one who may occupy a commercial property, school, or some other public building.
In many cases one's primary residence represents a person's largest asset. Therefore, it is vital to protect that asset. I recommend addressing your tank when you are not pressured by an imminent property sale. However, human nature being what it is, most tank issues arise during the sales process. Regardless of how your UST comes to the fore, these ideas will help you immeasurably.
Environmental consultants agree that the price to remediate contaminated groundwater can be financially ruinous, but there are exceptions. ESA has successfully used a groundwater remediation strategy that saves enormous amounts of time and money...if the conditions are right.
On January 21, 2014, Governor Christie signed into law legislation allowing a two-year extension to complete remedial investigations at sites where remediation was triggered prior to May 7, 1999. These sites had been required to complete the remedial investigation (RI), and submit the RI Report before a May 7, 2014 statutory deadline. How does this legislation affect you?
This time of year never fails to invoke comforting thoughts of hearth and home, friends and family, fond memories and a sense of awe and anticipation of the exciting and magical things to come. There's "something in the air" that compels us to reflect on the blessings we and our loved ones have been afforded. For me, I am eternally grateful for the success of ESA over these many years and for the fine people we have encountered in our business who give purpose and meaning to the work we do.
There are very few businesses, or even homeowners, who have not endured an indoor air quality (IAQ) situation at least once. Who hasn't detected an odor they could not quickly identify? How many people have developed an irritating cough that could not be explained? In my experience, the majority of complaints prove to be unassociated with indoor air quality. Notwithstanding this fact, owners or managers of businesses are obligated to investigate when an employee registers a complaint. After all, we live in a litigious society. Failure to take appropriate and sensible measures to investigate a complaint can strengthen a complainant's case.
Removal of impacted soil from your property is often the easiest remedial method. This method involves four separate processes: excavation of the impacted material, loading it into trucks, transporting it to a disposal facility, and finally disposing it. The ease with which this is accomplished is a function of two primary variables: the intrinsic nature, magnitude and complexity of your situation and the quality of the project and site management brought to bear by your consultant. While every project needs to be examined to determine the remedial approach that makes the most sense, in many cases, simple excavation and disposal will be the method of choice.
What happens when your consultant disagrees with the findings of another consultant? More specifically, how do findings differ in the first place? After all, the environmental science practiced by ESA is normally based upon empirical data and our specific experience as applied to similar situations. Therefore, shouldn't ESA's data and reports speak for themselves? And if the opposing consultant also provides services in the same fashion, shouldn't their findings also speak for themselves? How can ambiguity exist? It is truly a vexing conundrum when the conclusions of one consultant can conflict so strongly with that of another.
On March 21, 2013, an Appellate Division panel upheld the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's controversial new Waiver Rule. NJDEP's Waiver Rule tacitly acknowledges for the first time ever that, in rare circumstances, some environmental regulations may be overly burdensome. Specifically, NJDEP may waive strict compliance with an NJDEP rule when a basis for such a waiver exists.
This e-newsletter addresses the current status of both the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund (HDSRF grants and brownfield grants) and the UST Petroleum Closure, Upgrade & Site Remediation Fund (UST grants). Note: These programs are in flux. As NJDEP or EDA information is updated, ESA will provide notices so you have the latest information on these essential programs.
This article briefly addresses what the law requires and more important, from a consultant's point of view, the practical aspects of dealing with incidents. What should you do immediately upon discovering an incident? What should you do if after ignoring an incident you wish to the address it now? And what should a prospective purchaser of a property (commercial, industrial, or residential) do prior to closing on a deal?
What is mold, how does it grow, and what should you do if you encounter mold? Without a doubt, some mold situations present genuine health issues. That being the case, how can the lay person make intelligent decisions about what to do?
An Environmental "Line in the Sand" is a metaphor for distinguishing between impacts created by a tenant and those that may be vestigial. When a tenant moves out, you do not want to engage in a contentious disagreement about potential impacts and who is responsible for addressing those impacts because such situations can become litigious. Thus, ESA offers the following pre-tenancy strategy designed to protect landlords.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has instituted selective waivers to NJDEP regulations for the benefit of the regulated community. Although not a carte blanche waiver, the waiver rule is nonetheless a boon for those to whom it applies. This essay summarizes and describes the key points of the NJDEP waiver rule.
The cost of environmental remediation services is a serious issue, especially in these harsh economic times. Regardless of how environmentally conscientious someone may be, our clients are always concerned about cost... and they want ESA to do a good job for the least cost possible. Knowing this, we do whatever we can to help each client obtain Other People's Money (OPM).
The full scope and cost of environmental remediation are sometimes difficult to predict and can be expensive. Depending upon site conditions, costs can accelerate over the course of a project. In fact, even when ESA implements a remedial project with exquisite precision and the utmost frugality, some clients are unhappy. Occasionally, I am asked, "Why is site remediation so darn expensive?" This month's e-newsletter addresses this sensitive and very important subject.
This essay defines the concept of Due Diligence in the context of environmental consulting, explains the disparity in price that is often encountered in these projects, and describes how to prepare when a property is about to undergo Due Diligence.
Technical Requirements for Site Rememdiation ("Tech Regs") define the "what, where, when, how, and how many" in almost any conceivable situation. But despite the Tech Regs specificity, there still remains ample latitude for consultants who advocate on behalf of their clients.
ESA Principal Stephen Fauer predicts industry-wide price increases in the wake of permanent Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) licensing.
Three rules to determine what constitutes good environmental consulting advice.
As the May 7, 2012 deadline nears, there may not be enough LSRPs to go around. Here's why...