Chickadee Remediation Company

TEXAS

8810 Will Clayton Parkway,

Suite J

Humble,

Texas  77338

Phone:  281-540-8711

Fax:  281-540-3893

MONTANA

7801 York Road

Helena,

Montana  59602

Phone:  406-475-3430

Fax:  406-475-3801

 

Contact Us

CALIFORNIA

5200 Warner Avenue,

Suite 207

Huntington Beach,

California  92649

Phone:  714-840-8036

Fax:  714-840-6843

               

 

 

Manuscript    (Go to Abstract)

 

Remediation and "Buying" Liabilities

 

Introduction

 

There are numerous pieces of property that have significant economic potential which is constrained by the environmental liabilities associated with the property.  In many such instances, an entity (corporation, individual, governmental unit, etc.) retains the environmental liabilities for properties; the entity has usually established a dollar reserve to cover the liabilities associated with each property.  Figure 1-1 shows the typical owner/operator Liability/Response action flow sheet.

 

Spills and leaks of chemicals from various sources have contaminated soils and groundwater at many sites, creating a threat to public health and the environment.  There are remediation technologies available that can address most contamination in a timely and cost-effective manner.  Figure 1-2 shows typical sources of contamination and the general sequencing of response action.

 

Figure 1-2

 

 

Contaminated Site Issues

 

Site-specific concerns generally focus on several site issues:

 

  1. Nature and extent of the contaminated soil and groundwater

  2. Rate and direction of the contaminant migration

  3. Status of at-risk receptors and likely pathways

  4. Status of contaminant source(s)

  5. Chemicals of concern (COCs)

  6. Applicable and relevant regulatory requirements

 

Remediation activities typically focus on reducing the chemical concentrations in the soils and groundwater to the extent necessary to protect the public health and the environment; the site-specific remediation criteria are usually based on reducing the public health and the environmental risks to acceptable levels.  At most sites, some residual chemical concentrations remain after active remediation is completed; the "owner/operator" responsibility for the site continues after active remediation and even after "site closure."

 

Brownfields

 

The Brownfields program has done an excellent job addressing the long-term beneficial use of "remediated" sites with residual, low-risk chemical concentrations.  However, the residual environmental liabilities for the sites typically remain with the property owner unless the owner has received specific indemnification from the previous site owner or from some other legitimate entity.

 

Site Assessment

 

The objective of the site assessment is to define the site-specific issues.  Typically this is accomplished by reviewing the site database and by expanding the site database when necessary to develop a response action plan and costs.  It is critical to be objective and thorough during the assessment phase; the goal is to learn everything possible about the site and the contamination.  The site assessment may require several steps when the information generated in step number one reveals significant, critical unknowns.  Figure 4-1 is an example of program controlled analytical capability.

 

Figure 4-1

Program Controlled Analytical Capability

 

 

Economic Site Use

 

Ultimately it is the long-term, site-specific economic value which drives the remediation and the liability "purchase."

 

There are two critical issues associated with contaminated sites:

 

  1. Remediation of the contaminated soil and groundwater to reduce the health and environmental risks to acceptable levels.

  2. Long-term "ownership" and management of the environmental liabilities.

 

In many cases, the current property owner can not develop the economic potential of a site because of the environmental liabilities associated with the property.  Typically, lending institutions are wary of financing developers who "own" the property and the environmental liabilities.

 

Remedial Response Plan

 

Based on the site assessment, the chemicals of concern, the physical characteristics of the site, and the long-term site use, it is possible to develop a timely, cost-effective remedial response plan.  The goal is to remediate the site to reduce the public health and the environmental risks to acceptable levels and to optimize the long-term economic value of the site.

 

Typically, a sequence of proven technologies will be effective; the key is to optimize the cost-benefit ratio for each step in the sequence as shown in Figures 6-1 and 6-2.  The general sequence is:

 

  1. Protect receptors

  2. Source control

  3. Free-phase removal and control

  4. Dissolved phase remediation

  5. Natural attenuation

  6. Long-term monitoring

 

Figure 6-1

Remediation Technology Sequencing

 

Remediation Technology Sequencing

*Relative Cost, $x103

Typical Effective Range,

ppb VOCs

Duration  Months

 

Design

Const

Monthly

 O&M

Excavation/Disposal/Treatment

10

40

2

>100,000

2-3

In-Situ Thermal Desorption

10

70

50

>100,000

3-5

Biopile Treatment

5

20

4

>100,000

3-6

Soil Vapor Extraction/Thermal Oxidation

10

50

12

100,000-10,000

6-12

Pump and Treat

10

40

10

100,000-10,000

12-24

Chemical Oxidation

5

40

7

100,000-10,000

3-6

Air Sparging

10

45

10

100,000-10,000

10-15

Ex-Situ Groundwater Bioremediation

10

40

12

100,000-1,000

12-24

Bioventing

5

30

4

10,000-1,000

18-36

In-Situ Groundwater Bioremediation

7

45

12

10,000-1,000

18-36

Granular Activated Carbon

3

20

12

<500

NA

Monitored Natural Attenuation

4

20

2

<500

5-15 yrs

*These costs are relative to each other for a specific site.  The costs are based on timely, cost-effective technology sequencing.  These costs are for a typical gas station site.

Actual site-specific costs may vary.

 

Figure 6-2

bullet

Remediation Phases

bullet

Protect receptors

bullet

Control sources

bullet

Remediate residual and dissolved contamination

bullet

Monitored natural attenuation

 

Environmental Issues Management

 

The most effective way to manage the environmental issues associated with a specific site is for the "remediation company" to secure "ownership" of the "issues."  The site-specific environmental issues or liabilities need to be reviewed in terms of the opportunities available.  Can the remediation company turn the liabilities into opportunities by effective remediation and by minimizing the site risk?  Figure 7-1 shows the Liability/Response action flow sheet after the remediation company "acquires" the liabilities.

 

In many cases, the remediation company will secure ownership of the environmental liabilities associated with a site via a "double closing" whereby the remediation company indemnifies both the current property owner and the future property owner(s).  This "double closing" nets to the remediation company the funds for the site remediation and for the long-term environmental liabilities management; an appropriate premium for the risks associated with the site is included.  In other cases, the remediation company will acquire the environmental liabilities associated with a specific site by executing an agreement with the existing responsible party whereby the liabilities are transferred to the remediation company. This process is a "win-win" for all interested parties:

 

  1. Regulators get the site remediated.

  2. Current and future site owners have no environmental liabilities in regards to the site.

  3. Lending institutions are not exposed to any environmental liabilities.

  4. Local receptors are protected from contamination.

  5. Property can be used for residential and/or commercial purposes.

 

Typically, the remediation company that "acquires" a site's environmental issues, has the ability to successfully evaluate and manage the issues; thus, the remediation company would generally not require insurance to cover the site-specific risk.  However, focused risk insurance could be a part of some "liability transfer" agreements in order to increase the comfort level the original and/or final property owner(s).  There are several national insurance brokers (for example, Frank Crystal and Co.) that handle this type of insurance.  Each policy is site-specific and based on the:

 

  1. Site assessment

  2. Chemicals of concern and remediation criteria

  3. Remedial response plan

  4. Receptor protection

  5. Remediation company experience

  6. Estimate cost and duration of each remediation phase

  7. Forecast effectiveness of each remediation phase

  8. Progress trends to-date

 

Table 7-1 shows examples of focused insurance coverage; the coverage is typically  a 4-6 year term policy with the face value at about two times the estimated project cost and with a deductible at 75% to 100% of the estimated project cost; the single lump-sum premium is paid when the policy is issued.

 

Table 7-1

Insurance

 

Project

 

Costs ($ x 106)

Comments

Policy Term (years)

Project Estimate

Face Value

Deductible

Policy Cost

1.

Gas Station/Mini Mart

6

0.400

0.800

0.300

0.050

Plume is well defined; 4 year database

2.

Dismantled chemical plant

6

8.000

16.000

7.000

0.200

Well defined, stable plumes; no close receptors; available utilities; use risk reduction approach

3.

Chemical disposal site

5

4.000

8.000

3.500

0.180

Well defined, stable plumes; extensive soil and groundwater database; close by receptors; 2 ppb vinyl chloride criteria

4.

Private airport

4

0.300

0.500

0.200

0.025

Spilled fuel and solvents; well-defined plume; no nearby receptors rapid source control

5.

Dry cleaner, strip mall

6

0.300

0.600

0.300

0.045

Well defined plume; close groundwater receptors; possible free-phase

 

Case study #1, Retail Shopping Center Expansion Site (Houston, Texas)

 

Background:

 

Spilled chlorinated cleaning solvent (from an abandoned dry cleaning business) contaminated the first shallow water-bearing zone at 10' to 20' bgs; the plume is about 40' long x 80' long near the property boundary; the plume is migrating at about 10' per year.  The source and the free-phase have been removed; the shallow (to about 5' bgs) TCE has evaporated; the only issue is the plume in the first water-bearing zone.

 

The property is prime commercial real estate.  The existence of the TCE plume has prevented the sale and economic development of the property.

 

Assessment:

 

Installed seven "perimeter" monitoring wells to evaluate the overall site and to target specific areas of concern.  Installed six monitoring wells in the single area of concern.  Also confirmed that there was no immediate risk to the public health and to the environment.  The only issue was the shallow TCE plume.  Completed eight, continuously sampled, soil borings in the area of concern; the soil analytical data confirmed that the shallow soils were no longer a source of TCE to the shallow groundwater.  Figure 8-1 shows the site layout.

 

Response Action Plan:

 

Pump and treat the affected groundwater from three strategically located wells to reverse the groundwater flow gradient; pump approximately 2.5 gpm; treat with double-pass carbon absorption.  Add nutrients (di-ammonium phosphate, potassium nitrate, and potassium sulfate) to the treated water and inject at the edge of the plume at five locations; use a portable unit and "operate" the system eight hours, twice per week.  Sample and analyze the pumping wells and the carbon effluent weekly to measure progress.  Figure 8-2 shows the progress data for TCE.  Figure 8-3 shows the mobile remediation unit.

 

 

 

 

Figure 8-3

Mobile Well Service Unit

 

 

Business Agreement:

 

Chickadee executed a lump sum contract with the property owner and with the property purchaser whereby Chickadee will:

 

  1. Define, design, and remediate the plume of DCE.

  2. Dismantle all remediation equipment.

  3. Monitor status of plume for 30 years.

  4. Complete and issue all regulatory submissions.

  5. Retain "legal and regulatory" responsibility for the TCE contamination.

 

No insurance was required.

 

Case Study #2, Gas Station, Mini Mart (Omaha, NB)

 

Background:

 

Leaking UST's; two tanks may have leaked for 10 years or more.  Soil and groundwater impacted to about 30' deep; shallow potable wells about 600' down gradient have been impacted; point-of-entry treatment (POET) systems have been installed at 28 residences.  The chemicals of concern are benzene, MTBE, and TBA.  The LUSTs have been removed along with about 300 yd3 of contaminated soils.

 

The property is prime commercial real estate when combined with adjacent parcels of land; the property is the cornerstone of a planned development; the affected groundwater has impacted the overall project financing.

 

Assessment:

 

Completed two phases of soil borings and monitoring wells to define the nature and extent of the affected soils and groundwater.  Identified free-phase in the vadose zone soils and in the groundwater; the dissolved plume is about 100' wide by about 700' long in the first water-bearing zone at 20' bgs to 30' bgs.  The concentrations of TBA and MTBE are decreasing on the leading edge of the plume.  The permeability and transmissivity across the affected zone is relatively uniform.  The analytical data confirmed that the source control has been effective.  Figure 9-1 is a schematic of the plume and the response plan.

 

Response Action Plan:

 

Soil vapor extraction, thermal oxidation, and pump and treat in the high concentration zones of the dissolved plume and of the vadose zone.  Use dual-phase (water and vapor) extraction wells to expand the vadose zone down to the aquitards at about 30' bgs.

 

Extract approximately 200 scfm of soil vapor from six extraction  wells and treat in portable thermal oxidizer.  Pump about 4.5 gpm of water and treat in an activated sludge aerobic bioplant; add oxygen and nutrients to the treated water and inject into nine injection wells; start the in-situ bioremediation when the BTEX, TBA, and MTBE concentrations are all below 10 ppm.  Convert to monitored natural attenuation when the benzene is less than 120 ppb, the MTBE less than 150 ppb, and the TBA is less than 200 ppb.  Figure 9-2 shows a schematic of the aerobic in-situ bio system.  Figure 9-3 shows the chemical concentrations at two progress monitoring wells.

 

Business Agreement:

 

Chickadee purchased the property (the site and not the business) from the "original" owner and indemnified the owner in regards to the contaminated soil and groundwater; Chickadee immediately sold the property to the development company and indemnified the development company in regards to the contaminated soil and groundwater.  The difference between the selling price and the purchase price was placed in a Chickadee trust account to pay for the remediation and long-term site management.  The agreements among Chickadee and the other parties:

 

  1. Allow access for remediation and monitoring

  2. Expedite active remediation; try to complete in 24 months

  3. Minimize interference with property development and mini-mart operation

  4. Remediation priority over other site activities for 24 months

 

Chickadee secured a 5-year term insurance policy with a face value of $1,000,000 and a $400,000 deductible to cover the project.

 

 

 

Figure 9-2

 

 

 

 

Case Study #3, Fixed base operation (NW Montana airport)

 

Background:

 

Private plane service and maintenance operation adjacent to public commercial airport; fixed base operation has been active for 70 years.  Spilled/leaked fuel and maintenance solvents over the years have contaminated the local soil and groundwater to about 60' bgs; the regional groundwater at about 400' bgs has not been contaminated by the site; the groundwater plume could impact private potable wells in the future.  The chemicals of concern are benzene, MTBE, 1,1-DCA, and vinyl chloride.  Source control has been effective; localized elevated chlorinated levels in soils continue to be a source to the groundwater.

 

The property has high value as part of the overall commercial development of the airport area.  The original owner lacked resources to complete the remediation and manage the liabilities long-term; the contamination restricted the ability to finance the property purchase and the property development.

 

Assessment:

 

Soil borings and monitoring wells defined the nature and extent of the soil and groundwater contamination.  Some small isolated pockets of free-phase chlorinateds exist in the vadose zone soils; there does not appear to be any free-phase on the groundwater.  The dissolved plume is about 90' wide by 400' long and is migrating toward the northeast at about 10' per year; only the first water-bearing zone at 40' bgs to 60' bgs is impacted.

 

Response Action Plan:

 

Ozone/peroxide oxidation of localized free-phase; pump and treat and in-situ anaerobic bio to reduce the 1,1-DCA levels to less than 5 ppm; convert to aerobic in-situ bio to reduce all the target chemicals to less than 100 ppb each; convert to monitored natural attenuation.

 

Business Agreement:

 

The remediation company purchased the property from the "original" owner and indemnified the owner for the soil and groundwater contamination.  The remediation company leased the property to the developer; 99-year exclusive lease with full property owner rights; one lump sum lease payment when lease was signed; remediation company (lessor) indemnifies lessee for any environmental liabilities; lessee pays property taxes and insures improvements as lessee deems necessary.  Lessor and lessee agree as follows:

 

  1. Lessor has unlimited access for remedial activities and monitoring.

  2. Lessor will expedite active remediation; try to complete in 24 months.

  3. Lessor will handle all agency/regulator contacts in regards to the historical environmental issues.

  4. Lessee will avoid major development activity in the active remediation area for 24 months.

 

Case Study #4, Tank Farm, former oil production area (Houston, Texas)

 

Background:

 

Oil and gas production area and fuel and chemical storage tank farm since the 1950's; still some ongoing operations; most of facilities and tanks are inactive.  Upscale residential construction has occurred over the last several years up to the perimeter of the site.  The property is a prime residential development site.  The current local residents are serviced by a municipal utility district, thus the local residents are not directly impacted by the site.  Scrap equipment, surface staining, salt water impacts, large excavation pits, etc. create a negative appearance.  A residential developer has acquired the site.  Figure 11-1 shows the site and surrounding area in 1995.

 

Figure 11-1

1995 Aerial Photograph

 

 

Assessment:

 

A phase-1 and a phase-2 environmental site assessment defined the site issues.  A detailed remedial investigation generated the data necessary to develop the remedial response plan; several areas with surface (to a depth of 4') organic contamination were delineated; salt water has impacted shallow soils and vegetation in several areas; evidence of surface organic spills and leaks in the process equipment and tank farm area.  No significant groundwater contamination.  No contamination in the excavation pit sediments.  Figure 11-2 shows the assessment details.

 

 

Response Action Plan:

 

  1. Complete six 60' deep cone penetrometer soundings to confirm the shallow subsurface geology at the locations indicated.

  2. Install six 6" diameter by 40' deep groundwater monitoring/remediation wells at the locations indicated.

  3. Complete eight 2" diameter by 12' deep soil borings at the locations indicated; sample and test continuously with a split-soon sampler.

  4. Excavate, classify, and dispose off-site approximately 400 cubic yards of shallow affected soils; it is anticipated that the affected soils will be classified as class 2, non-hazardous.

  5. Dismantle, decontaminate, and dispose of equipment, tanks, piping, refuse, etc. not removed by current owner.

  6. Backfill work will produce "ponds" with an average total depth of approximately 18' below ground surface and rough grade side slopes at 4:1.

  7. Dewater the two pits on-site and backfill with "available" soil resulting from on-site rough grading.

  8. Remediate the affected groundwater to the extent necessary to protect public health and the environment.  Issue semi-annual groundwater status/progress reports to the TNRCC and the public.

  9. Pump, treat, amend, and inject the affected groundwater to effect remediation via "pump and treat" and "in-situ anaerobic bioremediation."

  10. Use mobile treatment unit 8 hours per day, 2 days per week for about 50 weeks.

  11. Measure progress at the groundwater remediation wells weekly during active remediation.

  12. Monitored natural attenuation for 15 years after completion of active remediation.

  13. Compliance monitoring for 15 years after completion of natural attenuation for a total of 30 years of monitoring.

  14. It is anticipated to receive TNRCC "closure" within 9-12 months.

  15. The site development contractor will complete the site and pond(s) civil work.

 

Business Agreement:

 

  1. Chickadee to acquire these environmental liabilities and indemnify the "seller" and the "buyer" via a "double" closing whereby the property ownership would pass from the "seller" to Chickadee to the "buyer"; the environmental liabilities will remain with Chickadee.

  2. The current owner will be responsible for ceasing all oil recovery operations on site and for removing all equipment, tanks, and supplies that the current owner wishes to retain.

  3. Chickadee will remove all tanks, equipment, supplies, refuse, etc. from the site that the current owner does not remove within 60 days of closing.

  4. Immediately upon closing, the buyer will assume all public liability for the property as relates to non-environmental issues.

  5. Chickadee will secure environmental liability insurance with a policy limit of $1,000,000, and a $300,000 deductible, and a five year term.

  6. Immediately upon closing, Chickadee will assume all responsibility for TCEQ Railroad Commission and EPA communication and regulatory compliance in regards to the site closure and the environmental liabilities.

  7. Chickadee will complete the pond dewatering and rough backfill and the active remediation in a timely and environmentally-sound manner.

  8. The remedial activities and long-term monitoring will not interfere with the beneficial use of the property by the "buyer."

  9. The land surface will be available for development activity within 90 days after closing.

 

Case Study #5, former petroleum refinery site

 

Background:

 

Petroleum refinery site for 60 years, starting in 1917. Part of the site was used as a cement plant from 1927 to 1992. There are no ongoing operations on the site other than some focused remedial activities; all the major equipment and facilities have been removed from the site. The property is a prime industrial development site with direct access to rail and a major deep water port; the property is ideal for industrial activity as all of the adjacent properties are active industrial properties. The nearest local residents are serviced by municipal water, thus the nearest residents are not at risk. Several companies are interested in developing this site if the environmental issues can be resolved. Figure 5-1 is a 1964 aerial photo of the site.

 

 

Assessment:

 

Several detailed environmental site assessments have been completed.  These assessments have identified several areas with elevated TPH in soils and one area with elevated benzene in groundwater; the benzene plume is well-defined and confined to the northeast corner of the property; the source of the benzene was a pipeline leak in 1982.  Over 80% of the sludges and elevated TPH soils have been effectively treated in the on-site land farm.  The site assessments provided enough information to develop a remediation and site closure plan.

 

Response Action Plan:

 

  1. Complete six 60' deep cone penetrometer (cpt) soundings to confirm the shallow subsurface geology at the locations indicated.

  2. Install seven 4" diameter by 35' deep groundwater monitoring/remediation wells at the locations indicated.

  3. Complete eight 2" diameter by 14' deep soil borings at the locations indicated; sample and test continuously with a split-soon sampler.

  4. Analyze the soil and groundwater samples for TPH, VOCs, and RCRA metals.

  5. Excavate, classify, treat on-site, and dispose off-site approximately 300 cubic yards of shallow affected soils; it is anticipated that the affected soils will be classified as class 2, non-hazardous.

  6.  Remediate the affected groundwater to the extent necessary to protect public health and the environment.  Issue semi-annual groundwater status/progress reports to the TCEQ.

  7. Pump, treat, amend, and inject the affected groundwater to effect remediation via "pump and treat" and "in-situ aerobic bioremediation."

  8. Use mobile treatment unit 8 hours per day, 3 days per week for about 40 weeks.

  9. Measure progress at the groundwater remediation wells weekly during active remediation.

  10. Monitored natural attenuation for 10 years after completion of active remediation.

  11. Receive TCEQ "closure" within 9-12 months.

 

 

Business Agreement:

 

  1. Chickadee to acquire these environmental liabilities and indemnify the "seller" and the "buyer" via a "double" closing whereby the property ownership would pass from the "seller" to Chickadee to the "buyer"; the environmental liabilities will remain with Chickadee.

  2. The current owner will be responsible for ceasing all activities on site and for removing all equipment, tanks, and supplies that the current owner wishes to retain.

  3. Chickadee will remove all tanks, equipment, supplies, refuse, etc. from the site that the current owner does not remove within 60 days of closing.

  4. Immediately upon closing, the buyer will assume all public liability for the property as relates to non-environmental issues.

  5. Chickadee will secure environmental liability insurance with a policy limit of $3,000,000, and a $750,000 deductible, and a six -year term.

  6. Immediately upon closing, Chickadee will assume all responsibility for TCEQ and EPA communication and regulatory compliance in regards to the site closure and the environmental liabilities.

  7. Chickadee will complete the active remediation in a timely and environmentally-sound manner.

  8.  The remedial activities and long-term monitoring will not interfere with the beneficial use of the property by the "buyer."

  9. The land surface will be available for development activity within 90 days after closing.

 

Conclusion

 

For most contaminated sites, there is a timely, creative, cost-effective way to address site remediation, liability management, and economic property development.  All interested parties need to focus on protecting health and the environment and on developing the potential of the site.

 

How can the environmental issues be converted to opportunities?  Risk can be minimized by proactively managing the environmental issues.

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This site was last updated on January 16, 2009