Written by Justin Gifford, General Counsel, EnviroForensics

In an attempt to employ best practices in managing stormwater runoff in Virginia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found itself on the wrong end of a federal district court’s ruling on January 3. Although charged with overseeing the environment, naturally a science-heavy directive, the EPA (and state-level regulatory agencies) found their hands tied by strictly worded legislation that has little room for innovation.

Ruling for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, District Judge Liam O’Grady held that while the EPA is granted the authority by Congress to regulate the discharge of pollutants into impaired waters in the form of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL’s), it can’t use proxies in favor of the pollutants it has the authority to regulate. Continue reading “EPA OVERREACHESU.S. EPA HAMSTRUNG BY STRICT WORDING IN CLEAN WATER ACT IN VIRGINIA DEPT. OF TRANS., ET AL V. US EPA”

Source Removal: The Key to Effective Site Remediation

Written by Steve Henshaw, P.G., President & CEO, EnviroForensics

As seen in the January 2013 issue of Cleaner & Launderer.

PDF Version

Risk-based cleanup approaches to obtain environmental site closures are becoming more and more acceptable to the regulatory agencies.  In general, if it can be demonstrated that contaminants left in soil and groundwater won’t cause an adverse impact to people or the environment (animals and their habitat), they may be able to be left in place and allowed to degrade over time.  To evaluate risk-based cleanups, the exposure pathways need to be indentified and evaluated.  Exposure pathways are the avenues or ways in which the contaminants could affect human health or the environment and include ingestion or uptake of water, direct contact with water or soil, and the inhalation of vapors or dust.

Risk assessments are now a routine part of determining appropriate cleanup approaches.  If the risk assessment can demonstrate that no one is drinking untreated groundwater (well water) in the area, that pathway is considered closed and can be checked off in terms of its risk to human health and the environment.  More specifically, the assessment could state the groundwater ingestion pathway is incomplete and there is the risk for cancer due to exposure to contaminants in groundwater is less than1 in 1,000,000.  The other exposure pathways are evaluated in a similar fashion to evaluate the likelihood that an exposure pathway is or is not complete.  Continue reading “Source Removal: The Key to Effective Site Remediation”

Should You Let Your Sleeping Environmental Dog Lie?

How Upcoming Changes in Property Transaction Practices and Developing Vapor Intrusion Concerns May Decide for You

Written by Jeff Carnahan, L.P.G., Vice President, Director of Technical Services, EnviroForensics
As seen in the December 2012 issue of Cleaner & Launderer.

Everyone has heard, and probably declared, that it’s “best to let sleeping dogs lie” at some point.  This old proverb presents the question, “Why bring up issues from the past that will only cause trouble”?  Let’s leave these things alone and as they are.  There is wisdom in this saying, but it’s not necessarily applicable for every situation.  Is there an actual sleeping dog in your path?  Sure, let it lie.  Have you encountered an old adversary with whom you’ve had a disagreement in the past?  Maybe you should just say hi and don’t bring up those old issues.  Of course, I get it.  Do you own a property with a potential environmental problem from past operations?  Are you in a position where you may be blamed for an environmental release?  I don’t believe that the sleeping dog proverb applies here.  If it were me, I’d rather wake that dog myself, gently and cautiously, than have someone else wake him abruptly and make the situation go from manageable to unmanageable.  I’m referencing, as you have guessed, the question of if, when, and how you approach looking for a potential environmental release at your property. 


As experienced business owners well know, a large number of environmental problems are discovered during commercial real estate property transactions.  When properties are to be exchanged from one business entity to another, or even refinanced through a new mortgager, potential liability for environmental issues may also be exchanged if the new owner or lender doesn’t perform an adequate inquiry into the environmental conditions at the property.  In turn, financial lending institutions are especially interested in looking for “environmental sleeping dogs”.  They would like to take possession of the property that was used as collateral in the transaction without assuming liability for a costly cleanup, should their loan become default.  Now, I don’t want to bore you with the details and if you’d rather be sleeping you wouldn’t be reading, but it’s important to understand just how you can end up being one who has to deal with that environmental dog regardless of how or by whom he is awaken.  So here we go. Continue reading “Should You Let Your Sleeping Environmental Dog Lie?”