A strategic direction for Terradex has been to augment federal stewardship of environmental sites with our LandWatch service. The Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Managers invited Terradex to present at their symposium Beyond Construction Completion: Long-Term Protection of Human Health and Environment at Federal Facilities. Terradex LandWatch is monitoring numerous federal facilities including active bases and formerly used defense sites.
A recent study by the Association of State Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) highlighted the importance of cleanup site land use controls (LUCs) and listed needed improvements and further research. “[T]here is an ever increasing universe of sites relying on LUCs as an integral part of an overall protective remedy” for cleanup of environmentally impaired property. The success of these cleanups and subsequent redevelopment, according to ASTSWMO, “will rest on understanding and effectively using LUCs.”
According to the study, states monitor LUCs by either conducting site visits or reviewing property owner self-certifications, and this monitoring ranges in frequency from about 1 to 5 years. Local governments, according to the study, are not significantly involved with LUC oversight. Improved efforts to keep locals aware of LUCs, the study concluded, would be a first step in creating state-local partnerships and would likely result in greater LUC compliance. Monitoring the rising number of LUCs will continue to strain state resources, according to the study.
The study also listed “underlying themes” for the future success of LUC monitoring, including: 1) better awareness of the presence of LUCs; 2) better understanding of the activities restricted and obligations imposed by LUCs; 3) a regular monitoring and oversight program seems to be key to ensure LUC compliance. In light of these findings and given the increasing strain on state resources, the study recommended future “research on identifying specific monitoring and oversight methods that are efficient and cost effective and that also increase awareness and voluntary compliance with LUC.”
California, as the study notes, relies on Terradex, Inc. to perform daily monitoring of the LUC sites across the state. At Terradex, we agree that better awareness and regular monitoring holds the key to the success of the thousands of LUCs (and the redevelopment they protect) across the country. Having helped prevent LUC violations for years, we proudly continue to strive on the cutting edge of sustainable LUC stewardship for protection of people and the environment. And in doing so, we bring the power of technology to increase the efficiency and cost effectiveness of this evolving endeavor.
ASTSWMO’s study highlights the importance of LUCs, the significant progress across the states, and needed improvements including better awareness, communication with local government, and more efficient monitoring. To read the study, visit http://www.astswmo.org/publications_cercla.htm.
J. Michael Sowinski, JD
Environmental Law and Policy Analyst
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has adopted an “enforcement first” policy for institutional controls, which will likely increase both recording and monitoring of ICs. The USEPA Office of Site Remediation and Enforcement has directed the agency’s program and enforcement staff, as well as Department of Justice, to pursue any action needed to ensure the implementation and effectiveness of institutional controls. This policy promotes the “polluter pays” principle. Potentially Responsible Parties shall “play a significant role in supporting a robust analysis of the effectiveness of Institutional Controls and in implementing necessary controls at Superfund sites.”
Terradex avoided a “disaster” threatening the potable water in Los Angeles, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The local permit agency approved the installation of a cathodic protection well. This type of deep well, used to prevent pipeline corrosion, has perforated walls and can thus allow groundwater to flow downward from a shallow aquitard to a deeper one. The permit agency did not flag the fact that a benzene contaminant plume existed in shallow groundwater at the well site. However, Terradex did proactively detect the conflict. The responsible party, alerted by Terradex, prevented an installation that would have become a conduit from the benzene plume to the deeper, potable water supply aquifer for Los Angeles.
Details of the Los Angeles alert are included in a Summary Pilot Report issued in February 2006 by the USEPA. The report’s primary focus, however, is a two-year evaluation of Terradex’s institutional controls monitoring system in California’s Silicon Valley. The multi-site case study tested Terradex’s IC monitoring at numerous contaminated sites, including Superfund sites, BRAC sites, leaking underground fuel sites and brownfield sites. An extract from USEPA’s report:
A prime example of the potential of an IC monitoring system to protect the public and the environmental from exposure to contamination occurred in January 2006. While the Del Amo Superfund site was not technically part of the pilot program, many of the same parties using the same process employed in the pilot program, detected and prevented a disaster from occurring there. Chevron had proposed drilling a 300-foot well for cathodic protection of one of its pipelines. The local permitting agency missed a conflict with a benzene plume in the area of the planned excavation and permitted Chevron to drill the well. The IC monitoring service used in the pilot program, Terradex, alerted stakeholders to the conflict and Chevron canceled the drilling. Had the well been drilled, concentrated benzene would have polluted the Lynwood Aquiifer that supplied drinkable water to Los Angeles County. Chevron is now working with regulators toward a solution that will protect human health and the environment.
The excavation limits of a new water main are marked on the street. Consistent with state regulation, the excavator calls in the excavation limits to the One-Call System. Soon the street is marked with utility locations.