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Inheriting Contaminated Property Not Always a Curse

What you need to know when inheriting contaminated propertyAs a Hydrogeologist with an interest in remediation of petrochemical impacted properties, I decided to do a Google search on the subject to see what I would find.  Surprisingly enough the first few pages were nothing but ads from lawyers telling you how to refuse your inheritance or risk being completely ruined financially.  Unfortunately these are the same folks who will turn around and buy the same property for next to nothing.

Also some inherited properties not worth owning due to excessive or extremely toxic contamination, but if you’ve been lucky enough to have been left a marketable tract of land that used to have a gas station or dry cleaner on the corner, you ought to consider remediation options before giving it away.  The key word here is marketable as 30 years ago, I inherited land in Georgia that was not contaminated but was a clear cut mess.  It was also out in the middle of nowhere.  I still have it and Atlanta is getting a lot closer to it every day.  Except in volcanic areas like Hawaii, there is no new land being made.  Remediation of impacted land can be expensive, but it can also be affordable.

There are numerous in-situ remediation methods available today that don’t require you to dig the whole place up and pay for expensive disposal.  There are even companies that will partner with you to clean up the property for a share of the sale price or in exchange for the property in more extreme cases (Yes, I am one of those guys).  A few of these remediation methods are as follows:

  • Bioremediation
    By injecting activated carbon into the impacted areas and allowing the indigenous bacteria to naturally degrade the contaminants into inert biomass and carbon dioxide. This is nature’s way of handling contamination, except a lot faster. A proprietary method of performing this method is called CleanInject®.
  • Air Sparging (AS) & Soil Vapor Extraction (SVE)
    This combination of methods is a lot more invasive but also very effective. It will require installation of equipment and remediation wells as well as trenching of underground piping. The equipment will have to be operated and maintained for a period of several years.

There are numerous other methods of cleaning up contaminated soil on property but these are some of the most popular.  If you have property that is worth more than $200,000 you may want to consider one of these methods.  Feel free and contact us to learn more by emailing Enviro-Equipment, Inc. at info@enviroequipment.com


Brian E Chew Sr PG

Principal Hydrogeologist

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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

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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:

FLAT SCREEN TV DEALS

  • 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’

LAPTOP COMPUTERS

  • 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

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