As we have detailed in previous newsletters during the past two years, many Pennsylvania site development projects requiring the import or export of soil from one property to another have been derailed by the presence of Vanadium in the soil. This problem was caused by changes in the PADEP’s Management of Fill Policy in January 2020, which included the reduction of the clean fill standard for Vanadium from 1,500 mg/kg to 15 mg/kg in soil. This concentration is substantially less than naturally occurring background levels typically found in soils in this region. Due to the massive number of site remediation and development projects that were stalled as a result of this change, the PADEP recognized the problem, worked with many stakeholders, and has now published a new interim-final Technical Guidance Document (TGD) to address background Vanadium concentrations in soil.[Read more…] about Finally, Relief from Overly Restrictive Vanadium Standards in Soil
Under the Slab: Vapor Mitigation Strategies for Brownfield Development
Ownership and redevelopment of brownfield properties can provide a business opportunity and greatly benefit a community. While there is significant potential for an all-around positive outcome, the owner or developer takes on the challenge of remediating or managing the contamination through working with environmental professionals and regulators. One of the most common challenges in managing contamination on these properties is dealing with vapor intrusion.
Vapor intrusion can occur when soil or groundwater underneath or adjacent to a building is impacted by “volatile” contaminants, meaning they readily exist as a vapor (i.e., gas). Think of the vapors that emanate from an open can of gasoline or other household chemicals such as paints and stains. When petroleum products or other volatile chemicals are spilled, they can seep into soil and groundwater and become an ongoing source of potentially harmful vapor. When these vapors move through soil and building foundations it can diminish indoor air quality. This is called vapor intrusion and can result in building occupants being exposed to these contaminants while breathing.
Vapor intrusion issues can be identified during due diligence, site development, or during characterization and remediation of known petroleum or other chemical spills. The nature and extent of the soil and groundwater contamination, as well as existing building conditions all have a significant impact on the best way to manage and resolve the vapor intrusion issue. It doesn’t matter if the building was constructed 200 years ago, 2 weeks ago or planned for construction in 2 months, there is a cost-effective solution. The solutions differ most significantly when considering mitigation of existing or new construction. Continue reading to learn more or call us at (610) 692-5770.[Read more…] about Under the Slab: Vapor Mitigation Strategies for Brownfield Development
New Phase I ESA Standard Redefines “Recognized Environmental Condition”
Through November of 2021, over 300,000 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) Reports have been prepared in the United States in connection with the sale, purchase, financing, and development of commercial real estate. The primary purpose of conducting a Phase I ESA is to identify whether there are Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) in connection with a property being investigated.
With the release of its updated Standard Practice, ASTM E1527-21, the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) offered several significant changes. One of the most overlooked yet potentially significant changes involves the definition of a REC.[Read more…] about New Phase I ESA Standard Redefines “Recognized Environmental Condition”
Amendments to PA’s Act 2 Statewide Health Standards – May Have Site-Specific Impacts on Environmental Assessments and Cleanups
On November 22nd, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) published updates to the Chapter 250 regulations for environmental investigations and remediation under Pennsylvania’s Act 2 voluntary cleanup program. The rulemaking includes changes to many Statewide Health Standards based on new scientific information, and adds groundwater and soil standards for PFOA, PFOS and PFBS – three common PFAS chemicals.[Read more…] about Amendments to PA’s Act 2 Statewide Health Standards – May Have Site-Specific Impacts on Environmental Assessments and Cleanups
Think Before You Test! Important Takeaways from PADEP’s Management of Fill Policy
As discussed in our January 2020 Newsletter, the PADEP’s new Management of Fill Policy went into effect on January 1, 2020. This policy is applicable every time that you send soil/fill material away from your property or import it onto your property. We have found up-front planning to be essential for reducing overall time, costs, and liabilities. Here are some key takeaways:[Read more…] about Think Before You Test! Important Takeaways from PADEP’s Management of Fill Policy
Pennsylvania regulatory Updates
Brownfields and Voluntary Cleanup (Act 2) Program
On February 15, 2020, Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) published proposed amendments to Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling and Remediation Standards (Act 2) Regulations.
The proposed amendments , published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, include the following:
- PFAS: Statewide Health Standards (SHS) will be added for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), and Perfluorobutane Sulfonate (PFBS). Previously unregulated, Pennsylvania will now adopt the USEPA Health Advisory Limit of 70 ng/L for PFOA and PFOS combined.
- Other Statewide Health Standards: The SHS for many organic and inorganic compounds will be updated based on the latest scientific information. Most notably, the Ingestion Factor for groundwater has been increased by 20% for both residential and non-residential exposure scenarios, due to people’s increased desire to hydrate. Groundwater ingestion factors have been increased from 2.0 L/day to 4 L/day for residential intake, and 1.0 to 1.2 L/day for non-residential intake, resulting in lower SHSs for many compounds.
- Total PCBs in Soil: Numeric values would be calculated for total polychlorinated biphenyls in soil. PCPG reports that the Department agrees with the Cleanup Standards Science Advisory Board’s suggestion to keep the individual Aroclors in all of the tables, including Table 5A. Unfortunately, the incorrect version of Table 5A was provided to, and approved by, the EQB and the correction will be made prior to publication of the Final Rulemaking and an explanation for the correction will be provided in the Comment Response document.
- Professional Seals: This proposed new section mirrors language from § 245.314 (relating to professional seals) of the storage tank regulations, requiring that reports submitted to the Department which include professional geologic or engineering work be sealed by a professional geologist or engineer.
The 60-day public comment period for this proposed rulemaking ends on April 14, 2020.
Although the new standards have not yet been formally adopted, they should already be taken into consideration during Phase I and Phase II environmental due diligence assessments.
Act 2 Technical Guidance Manual – The Use of Caps as Engineering Controls
PADEP plans to finalize and publish an Appendix to the Act 2 TGM providing guidance for the use of caps as engineering controls. The planned release date is March 2020. The document will apply solely to the use of caps in attaining an Act 2 standard. It will be guidance, not regulation, and will be provided to inform remediators of recommended best practices.
The document will include guidance on cap design, construction materials, demarcation layers, documentation, maintenance, inspections, and reporting.
Look for this guidance policy to be published soon in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, followed by a 30-day public notice period for comment. Upon approval, the policy will be appended to the Act 2 TGM. For those who can’t wait, click the link below.
Management of Fill Policy
As discussed in our January 2020 Newsletter, the PADEP’s new Management of Fill Policy went into effect on January 1, 2020. Some important take-aways include:
- The new Policy eliminates the previous numeric standards (Table GP-1), which were developed in 2004. It replaces them with Act 2 Statewide Health Standards – the lower of the current residential direct contact numeric values for soils and the residential generic soil-to-groundwater numeric values. Consequently, the clean fill standards will automatically be updated when the Act 2 regulations are next amended (see update above).
- The amount of lab testing required for “Clean Fill” determinations can be significantly reduced through “due diligence”. Your trusted environmental professional can help you to determine how much due diligence is needed, how much it can potentially save in lab costs and time, and whether it’s worth it.
- Once it is determined that fill material meets the definition of “clean fill”, a Certification of Clean Fill form (FP-001) must be filed electronically with PADEP (for informational purposes but not approval) before the fill material is transported to the receiving site. Beware – PADEP can review your FP-001 submission, after the fact, and come back to you if they don’t think that it’s sufficient. Therefore, it’s important to properly cover your bases before sending fill offsite.
- A clean fill determination can be made if it is shown that the concentrations of analytes exceeding the relevant Act 2 standards are actually below background concentrations in soils in the area of the site. However, not only must the fill material be shown to meet background concentrations from the donor site, they must also be shown to meet background concentrations for the receiving site in order to send the material to that property.
Regulated Fill – PADEP General Permit No. WMGR096
If fill material is determined to not meet clean fill standards, it may still meet “regulated fill” standards, which can still provide significant project cost savings when compared to sending the material to a landfill.
Since the material contains compounds above clean fill standards, regulated fill is still classified as a residual waste. Therefore, it must be managed properly – in accordance with General Permit No. WMGR096 (hot link?). This general permit was scheduled to expire on December 23, 2019 but couldn’t be modified for reissuance until after the new Management of Fill Policy was finalized. Therefore, WMGR096 was extended in its existing form until June 23, 2021.
PADEP says that they plan to release proposed modifications to General Permit No. WMGR096 in the 2nd Quarter of 2020. Stay tuned…