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QT service station pumpThese days the service stations being built have quite the curb appeal.  I have noticed in the southeast QT® (i.e. Quick Trip) has built a number of facilities with quite a nice layout and beautiful landscaping.  These stores are very clean and have just about everything you need to get in a single stop.  I realize many of those reading this blog are environmental consultants who don’t own service stations, but you do have Clients who own them.

When a gasoline leak occurs at one of these new stations, the work that is required to fix the leak systematically destroys the appearance of these stations. There is no getting around doing the assessment to determine the impact of the release, but when it comes to remediation the choices are broad.

Some of the most successful cleanups I was involved in used Sparge\Vent technology.  This meant installing numerous Sparge wells and Vent wells, and cutting up that beautiful smooth pavement to install the underground lines between the wells and the equipment building.  These systems were quite effective, but noisy, smelly and not so pretty.  This is not what you want to see, hear and smell when you are pulling off the road to stretch, gets some gas, and a quick bite to eat.  The typical systems will be operated for a period of 2 to 5 years before being decommissioned.  But what if you didn’t have to install those wells and cut trenches through all that smooth pavement?

I know in the last two decades there have been a lot of snake oil salesmen offering to pour different concoctions into your monitoring wells to make your problems go away.  Most of the time all that happened good money was wasted, and in some cases, these concoctions made matters worse.  In some States, like South Carolina, pouring chemicals or bacteria into monitoring wells is not allowed.

However, what if you could remediate your site without using your monitoring wells for anything but monitoring?  You can – and it is not snake oil.  What I am talking about is cleaning up your site using a special blend of activated carbon in a carbon based injectate (CBI) and the indigenous bacteria.  This CBI is injected by direct push technology into the impacted formation to sequester the contaminants and allow the naturally occurring bacteria to do its job.  This is the way Mother Nature handles contaminants and does not require trenches, remediation wells and equipment compounds.  It is also relatively fast compared to other technologies and typically a lot cheaper.  It is not a solution for all sites, but no remediation technology is. If you are interested in getting more information about this technology contact ericchew@geologicrestoration.com

Brian E Chew Sr. P.G.
Principal Hydrogeologist


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


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