It is crucial for anyone who is considering accumulating new property to be aware of the environmental risks that may be present. This information is important for liability reasons and the potential costs and fines associated with an environmental cleanup. Investigations are often the first step of the environmental due diligence process to determine any potential contaminants on your property.
Here is everything you need to know about environmental investigations.
Why You May Need an Investigation
An environmental investigation may be warranted in order to learn more about a property. Some signs of contamination, like vegetation dieback, surface staining, groundwater sheens, etc. are visible. But contamination isn’t always obvious. A professional investigation can determine any potential areas of the site in which the soils or groundwater may have been contaminated from past property uses.
Environmental investigations are recommended when purchasing new property. They can provide information about the historical and current uses of the property. This insight matters if the uses involved environmental contaminants, like petroleum or solvents. Phase 1 assessments may be required in certain situations, for example, if you are financing a loan. This circumstance requires an investigation to test items beyond standard procedures.
What Happens During an Investigation
The first step in the investigation process is often conducting a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). The investigator observes the land and current property use and then researches property records and conducts interviews to determine if there are any recognized environmental conditions (RECs) that may be present for the property.
If RECs are reported in the Phase 1 ESA, the investigator may recommend conducting a Phase 2 ESA to verify/determine the extent of the REC. During this step, investigators take samples of the groundwater, soils and/or vapors, which are then tested in a lab for pollutants. From there, a Phase 3 ESA may be necessary. This phase helps stop further contamination of the area through additional sample testing, monitoring and remedial planning.
While every environmental company follows these standardized tests, they may have different philosophies about how to conduct them. One method is called risk-based corrective action (RBCA), which scientifically assesses the risks. Then, investigators decide how much remediation to perform in order to protect environmental and human health. This could mean that the pollutant is not completely eradicated, but instead is reduced to an acceptable level.
Another philosophy is called monitored natural attenuation (MNA), which focuses on the processes that occur in nature to reduce contaminants. While this is a natural process, it needs to be monitored to ensure that the levels are decreasing quickly enough and will not pose a health threat. Many environmental companies factor this into their remediation strategy.
Next Steps After an Investigation
After the investigation is complete, remediation and corrective action become vital. Environmental remediation is the process that removes contaminants and pollutants from elements like soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment. This process eliminates the sources and helps protect the health of the environment and people.
There are many technologies and strategies for getting rid of contamination. Some techniques, however, can damage the environment even more and become costly. In determining the remediation needs of your property, you want to consider environmental resource services with cost-effective solutions.
Turn to GSI Environmental for Groundwater and Environmental Services
The purpose of an environmental investigation is to detect any pollutants and contaminants in the area. Compiling reports and recommendations is done by an environmental expert, but their ideas are often based on professional judgment. It is crucial to partner with an industry leader that has the experience and best techniques to investigate and remediate your property.
GSI Environmental has more than 30 years of industry experience and will meet all of your investigative needs. We have designed and implemented full-scale remediation systems at contaminated sights using traditional and innovative technologies. Our low overhead means that our groundwater and environmental services are cost-effective. GSI Environmental is not geographically restricted, and we are willing to travel anywhere to serve your needs.
To learn more about our services, call 717.691.9799 or contact us today.