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Laws Being Ignored by Obama… and Everybody Else

Obama ignoring environmental laws like everyone elseThese days when people talk about the laws on the books being ignored by our President and Congress, the first thing that comes to mind is Immigration.  I would say let’s start with the US Constitution, but that is a very long discussion for another day.

Although US immigration laws are being ignored, the laws I’m talking about which are being broken are as follows:

  • The Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act) of 1948
  • The Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965, solid (Subtitle D) and hazardous (Subtitle C) waste management activities
  • The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972
  • The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976
  • The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), a 1980 law commonly known as Superfund
  • The Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) of 1984
  • Many, many more

One only has to look around any United States city to realize our immigration laws are being ignored. However, the laws which I am talking being ignored may not be that obvious to the general population. It seems the way our Federal (i.e. EPA) and State regulatory agencies get around the laws listed above is to call the law-breaking contaminated sites by a different name. An excellent example in North Carolina and most other states are the hundreds – if not thousands – of CERCLA (superfund) sites that are reclassified as “Inactive Industrial Sites” and allowed to sit for decades. Some of these sites have percent range Chlorinated Solvents in the soil and extremely high concentrations in groundwater and nothing gets done. If they are not listed with EPA and Superfund then they get no funds.  Think of the jobs that could be created remediating these sites.

North Carolina created a Registered Site Manager (RSM) program in 1995 and the Registered Environmental Consultant (REC) program in 1997. The programs were created so that consultants could sign up and essentially do the job of the regulator as long as they are a licensed PE or PG and meet the other criteria. I was recently told by one of these site managers that a corrective action plan he submitted in the late 1990’s just made it up for review by the State Regulator. Not a bad turnaround time – 25 years!

We’ve all seen news reports where our government paid $300 million to find out how snails crawl or something equally as valuable (NOT!), so it should come as no surprise that they don’t have the slightest clue how to prioritize taxpayer money. They would rather hassle the energy companies using coal than clean up the aforementioned Superfund sites which are extremely contaminated. What do you think?

Brian E Chew Sr. P.G.
Principal Hydrogeologist


Deal of the Day

deal of the dayWith Christmas upon us, I decided to write about the deals we are bombarded with every day in emails, paper supplements and store billboards.  But is the “Deal of the Day” really a deal?  Having an interest in electronics, I decided to dig into the specifications of some deals on TV’s and laptop computers.  First of all, I am not saying there are no deals to be had, but what I found was interesting:


  • Refresh rate typically 60 hertz (HZ) on most deals instead of 120 HZ or 240 HZ
  • High Definition is typically 720P instead of 1080P or higher
  • LED TV is typically a LED backlit TV not an LED TV
  • Most of real cheap deals were not ‘Smart TV’s’


  • Drives were HDD not SSD
  • HDD drives were big, up to 1 TB but the drives were slow 5400 RPM instead of 7200 to 10000 RPM
  • Bus speeds were slow
  • RAM memory may be 4GB or 8GB but slow also
  • Displays are small and low resolution
  • Batteries are NICD not NMHD or Lithium Ion
  • Batteries don’t last long and recharge is long
  • USB drives are old versions not 3.0
  • Windows software is typically old version and other software included mostly junk taking up space.
  • And lots, lots more

Now that I burst your bubble relative to the typical deals out there, what does that have to do with remediation equipment I typically write about?

Recently, we got the opportunity to work on a competitor’s system who won a bid against us about a year ago.  We lost the bid by $3000 or more but upon entering the trailer it was easy to see why.  The system had dozens of flow meters on both the sparge and SVE manifolds.  The specs had requested 4” SVE manifolds and 1” sparge manifolds.  Interestingly enough the pipes into and out of the SVE and sparge manifolds were 4” and 1”. But on the sparge manifold the solenoids, regulators and flowmeters were 0.5 inch not 1” and on the SVE manifold the ball valves and flow meters were 2” not 4”.  The cost difference between these items alone were more than the amount we lost by.  So once again, the ‘ Deal of the Day’ again might not be that good of deal at all.  As a company that works on remediation projects requiring competitive bids, we see this stuff all the time and in this case the client got what they paid for.

Brian E Chew Sr, P.G. Principal Hydrogeologist


Vapor Intrusion and Sub-Slab Depressurization Systems

vapor intrusion & migration diagramVapor intrusion (VI) of radon gas has been recognized as a potential cancer risk for more than 30 years. Radium, a breakdown product of uranium, produces the short-lived daughter product Radon, which presents itself as a gas that can migrate into living space of overlying buildings. More recently, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), such as trichloroethylene (TCE), Tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and constituents associated with gasoline, such as benzene has been identified as compounds likely to migrate into indoor air as well.

It’s generally thought that vapor intrusion occurs from the subsurface to the basements, crawl spaces and first floor slabs on grade, but also through adjoined attics and walls in commercial\retail spaces. Some buildings are better insulated and sealed than others and heating, ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC) systems vary in vacuum and flow. Hence, the HVAC system running in ‘building A’ can draw odors in from adjoined ‘building B’. I have personally experienced cigarette smoke and bathroom odors (something which isn’t so funny if you are on the receiving end) being drawn into my commercial space from the industrial condo next door.

So What’s Being Done about Vapor Intrusion?

The ASTM vapor encroachment screening standard (E 2600-10) was published in 2010 to provide guidance to environmental professionals performing Phase 1 assessments on determining when a vapor encroachment condition (VEC) exists. Two VI guidance documents were issue for external review by EPA in April, 2013. Closer to home, the NCDENR-DWM released a VI guidance document in April 2014 on the DWM home page which was intended to emphasize the potential impact of VI on due diligence in property transactions and allocation of responsibility among the parties for VI issues.

Since early 2013, a number of State agencies and professional associations have developed guidance documents and short courses to educate professionals and the public on issues associated with vapor intrusion.

In the past six months we have had a huge increase in orders for custom sub-slab depressurization systems with control panels for vapor mitigation. These systems typically are designed to capture and remove migrating vapors before they enter indoor air. Most of these systems have been designed to remedy problems with existing commercial and residential structures. Recently, we have noticed more designs for systems being installed with new structures, which is typically much easier than retrofitting an existing structure. The amount of controls and sensors associated with the system is typically a reflection of the danger associated with the migrating vapors. Some larger systems incorporate remote telemetry to monitor the operation of the vapor mitigation system and to make sure any malfunctions are repaired quickly.

I look forward to building more of these custom systems in the near future!

Brian E Chew Sr. P.G.
Principal Hydrogeologist

For more information please email: remediation@enviroequipment.com.