Comments

Comments

  • FStephenMasek

    I was a member of the task group which wrote the ASTM E2018 PCA standard, and this issue was discussed at length.  E2018 does not require any such degrees, as there are many skilled PCA people who have degrees in other fields, and still quite a few with no college degree.   The other problem is that far too many companies use "field staff" to do most all of the work, so the person who's signature is on the report may only have glanced at it, or may not have seen it.   The same with environmental consulting. 

  • FStephenMasek

    If old wood coated with lead-based paint was used to make the mulch, it certainly would be a REC.   I doubt anybody would try to mulch railroad ties or power poles, as they would gum-up their mulching machine.      

  • MaxEng

    Larry has pointed out several potential sources of confusion both to environmental professionals and to their clients.  EPs should remember that there is no obligation, once a REC has been identified, to further refine the characterization of the REC as a CREC.  The CREC term was created in order to be useful, and to provide users of Phase I reports a fuller understanding of how residual environmental contamination is being managed, administratively, at a given property.  All CRECs are also RECs; historical RECs (HRECs), on the other hand, are not RECs, as in order to qualify as an HREC any residual contamination must be low enough that residential (unrestricted) use is allowed.

    Bottom line: if you as an EP are uncomfortable in determining whether a given REC can legitimately be termed a CREC, then just call it a REC.  You are perfectly justified to do so under E1527-13.

  • FStephenMasek

    What I got from attending the San Diego conference was consultants all talking with each, trading war stories and catching up on old times, but no business opportunities, as the lenders all seemed to have their chosen consultants.  Has that changed? 

    The basic problem with lenders having any say in which company does the Phase I is that the borrower has all of the liability, so a report from a consultant which "understands the risk tolerance of the bank" may be far less than what the borrower needs.  The bank only risks the remaining balance on the loan, while the borrower may be on the hook for the remediation cost, and that may exceed the value of the property.  EPA has thus far ignored this elephant in the due diligence room.   

     

  • FStephenMasek

    One thing the large, high overhead companies can do is hire smaller companies for such work.  That way they can obtain the services of senior experienced EPS at a price lower than their overhead cost of having "field staff" or trainees perform the Phase Is.

    I've one of the people on the E1527 task group who has been pushing for years to have E1527 require that the EP perform the site visits, but the ASTM structure allows the big companies using "field staff" to shoot down all such efforts.    

    By the way, I'm a supporter and contributor to the Institute For Justice, but this is not people wanting to drive cabs or braid hair.  I've seen college-educated and diligent people who are not qualified as EPs miss significant things.  Requiring the EP to perform the site inspection would surely be helpful to small businesses, the people IJ often defends.   

     

       

  • FStephenMasek

    A good contract is always helpful.  Advising a client, especially one who does not seemed to be an experienced investor or lender, to read E1527 might also help.  Would they buyer rather learn about an environmental issue after buying a property?  maybe from a regulator?  Of course, I still regularly encounter people who do not know what EPA stands for... 

    In the second example, it would be wise to obtain written approval from the major client, or just send the work for the smaller or one time client to somebody else. 

  • Tom Speight

    That's somewhat ironic, because EDR sponsors this forum....:)

    Sanborn maps have become the quasi-standard reference because there are so many of them-- they were producing maps for about 100 years.  They were also more nationwide than most other mapmakers.  As far as the quality and detail of individual maps, there are some better sources out there-- L.J. Richards, Bromley (who had a very nice series of atlases for Boston), and so on.  Pretty much anything from prior to the mid-1920s in the US is or should be in the public domain now anyways, Sanborns included.

    The original Sanborns are much better than the black and white end result we usually get-- they were in color, for one thing, and plotted to a standard 1" = 50' on large ledger sheets, not b&w and crammed into 8.5x11s.  Must admit that EDR has improved the quality of their squished, black and white reproductions, though....;)

    For sheer detail, the best drawings I usually see are the old Factory Insurance Association maps, but those are rare as hen's teeth-- usually only for really big industrial complexes.  Some even have process flow diagrams on them. 

  • Robert

    Yeah - It saves me so much time now that I have a large personal database.

    Haven't used EDR and actually, I have never heard about it before you mentioned it. Looks like it is a great resource though.

  • JG

    Nice setup.  It's much better quality than the sanborns EDR provides.

  • Robert

    As I use the Fire Insurance Plans regularly, I decided to make copies of them. I use a digital SLR camera mounted upside down (attached photo) on a tripod with a 40mm pancake lens for no distortion.

    Some of the old plans are in great condition, especially if they have no revisions.

    This site is in Vancouver, BC. (1837 East 10th Avenue); the exact location is now part of a Safeway Parking lot

    One note: I noticed that the FIPs are commonly referred to as Sanborn Maps on this forum. For Vancouver, Sanborn made a small map in 1885 and after that, it was a combination of Goad maps and an Insurer's Underwriters Association.

    I'm not doing any work here - i just noticed this as I was looking.

  • JG

    Wow, nice find.  What a great quality map too.  Where did you get it?

    The topic of "cleaning" on FI Maps has come up before.  So I'm curious, how are are you going to address the cleaning operation?  Do you assume it's dry cleaning and call it a REC?

  • Tom Speight

    Soil gas without a building is tricky-- the modeling is very difficult since your testing environment is completely different from the expected future scenario, and you have to carry a lot of assumptions about what the completed building will be, and even how its' HVAC system will work in establishing negative pressure zones,  Here in MA we usually just skip that stage, rely on groundwater data (we have some groundwater standards with very conservative J&E assumptions), and recommend some cost-effective mitigation measures be designed into the building from the start just in case..
     

    Some regulators won't let you do a soil gas study to evaluate a building that doesn't yet exist-- Connecticut DEEP and DPH for example.

    Soil gas in an open field has always seemed a bit iffy to me, and perhaps some others can weigh in on this issue, but I've had a number of experiences at VOC sites where sub-slab concentrations were significantly higher than open field soil gas data, I suspect because with no building to act as a barrier the stuff just volatilizes out into the atmosphere and doesn't accumulate under a slab, plus there's no stack effect to draw it up.

  • Tom Speight

    I've been in both scenarios, and suspect that most other environmental consultants have been there too.

    The first scenario illustrates why it's so important to document the facts and explain the logic for calling out a REC.  It probably won't make the client any happier if he's bent on being upset (though you never know....) but if regulatory issues or (perish the thought) litigation ever come of it, you'd have your info on record.

    Scenario 2 could bring in issues about conflict of interest if both parties aren't informed and represented without prejudice....which can be a problem if big client starts asking why you didn't find the RECs when you were working for him.  Unprejudiced and equal representation can be hard to do if you're already working on the site for one party.  About the only thing I could suggest there is that the two parties have some sort of agreement in advance governing how to handle this sort of problem.

    Modifying report language to soften the blow is all well and good, as long as it is very clear what is a REC and what isn't (as opposed to BER etc)....I suspect that's why ASTM made the "no REC's other than the following" or similar language a requirement.

  • SarahB

    Yep. "Don't ask a question if you don't want to hear the answer." !!!

    It's always a good idea to communicate RECs before issuing the report, whenever possible.

    After report delivery, sometimes clients ask me to modify the report language to "soften the blow." This is usually fine with me, as long as it still discloses the RECs. It's a good way to make the client happy, but you still have to be careful.

  • SarahB

    I agree with the comments posted so far. It's been my experience that the majority of properties with below-grade lift equipment do not have significant contamination. I've seen some cases that got reported to the state...and then were issued no further action letters shortly thereafter. I've also seen or heard of more than one instance of thoughtless employees continuing to add fluid to a malfunctioning lift! Stuff happens. And it's difficult to tell what's going on underground based on aboveground evidence alone.

    As to calling such equipment a REC and recommending a Phase II...it's a case-by-case decision for me. Consider age, occupancy, maintenance records, housekeeping, etc.