Indiana Ranks High for Business and Manufacturing

If you’re a business owner, Indiana is the place to be. Indiana ranked eighth in Forbes’ 2015 list, Best States for Business. In particular, Indiana is a great state for manufacturing. The state was given an A rating for manufacturing Industry Health in the Conexus Indiana 2015 Manufacturing & Logistics Report Card, scoring higher than the nearby states of Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio. To give some more concrete statistics, almost 17% of Indiana’s workforce is employed by manufacturers, and over 30% of the state’s gross product is manufacturing.

Factors that help support this great business and manufacturing climate include favorable environmental policies and legislation. In fact, Forbes ranked Indiana second for regulatory environment.

In contrast, however, a bill was proposed (H.B. 1241) in 2014 that would have prevented business owners from being able to use their commercial general liability policies to cover pollution damages and remediation costs. The bill would have allowed an insurer not to cover well-known pollutants or to define pollution in vague terms to avoid paying for cleanup.

Business owners protested the bill, contending that it would harm small and large employers alike and put jobs in jeopardy. The bill also would have hindered cities working to address environmental issues at various contaminated sites. Ultimately, the bill didn’t pass, which shows the importance that Hoosiers place on providing an ideal climate for successful businesses and manufacturers.

Manufacturers in Indiana have a great opportunity to not only be in a state that supports business and manufacturing on the whole, but also to deal with environmental liability in a way that doesn’t drain financial resources or harm their business. Because of the legislation Indiana has in place for insurance, EnviroForensics is able to locate and use old insurance policies, via our sister company PolicyFind, to pay for site investigation and cleanups, as well as associated legal fees. We are also equipped with a team of expert engineers and geologists who have extensive expertise in the remediation of soil and groundwater contamination, as well as vapor intrusion exposure issues.

To keep their businesses thriving, Indiana manufacturers should take this great opportunity to deal with any environmental issues on their properties. While Indiana law is currently favorable toward manufacturers, you never know when legislation and policies could change. Don’t miss your chance.

EnviroForensics Obtains Three No Further Action Letters for Chlorinated Solvent Sites in 2015

2015 was a year of growth and success for EnviroForensics. We began construction on our new downtown Indianapolis headquarters, added 23 employees to our team, and made progress on numerous sites for our clients. We are particularly proud to announce that we obtained three No Further Action (NFA) letters for clients in the past year. Three may not seem like a very large number of closures, but keep in mind that releases of chlorinated solvents like PCE can be very complicated to assess.  Additionally, regulators scrutinize work on chlorinated solvent sites, as there are multiple exposure concerns to address on even fairly straightforward sites.

Client in San Diego, California

The first no further action determination we received was for a former dry cleaner operating as a drop-off shop in San Diego, California. The former dry cleaner was located in a tenant space in a strip mall. Corrective actions were required for the site by the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health (SDCDEH) due to the potential for vapor intrusion (VI) to occur at the dry cleaner. Because of this location, multiple parties were involved during the site investigation and remediation process. In addition, the strip mall became part of a real estate transaction during the remedial phase, which created additional objectives and time frames.

EnviroForensics was hired in 2005 by the responsible party after a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) submitted by a former consultant was approved by SDCDEH. Past operational activities had caused volatile organic compound (VOC) contamination beneath the building. The approved CAP recommended soil excavation combined with soil vapor extraction (SVE) throughout the remaining contaminated soils. Since active dry cleaning operations were occurring at the site at the time of the CAP approval, the CAP was implemented in stages to avoid disrupting business activities. An SVE system was installed in December 2007, expanded in October 2010, and retired in 2013 to prepare for the completion of the soil excavation activities.

The soil excavation activities included the removal of dry cleaning and steam pressing equipment, clothing racks, and piping to facilitate the indoor soil excavation. Geotechnical and structural engineers were brought in to assess the soil excavation plan. After remedial activities were finished, several rounds of indoor air samples were completed to mitigate any vapor intrusion pathways.

In February 2015, the SDSCEH issued a Case Closure Summary Letter to the site, allowing for the pending real estate transaction to be completed.

Client in Elkhart, Indiana

Another NFA determination was achieved for a client of ours in Elkhart County, Indiana. TCE was detected during a commercial property transaction in the groundwater on our client’s property. Never having used TCE in any of their operations, our client was perplexed.

Subsurface investigations begin in 2014, consisting of widespread soil and groundwater testing. Although TCE was found in the groundwater, no traceable sources were discovered on the site. We were able to provide several lines of evidence that showed the contamination was from an unknown up gradient source. In response, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) issued an NFA letter to the site in July, 2015.

Client in Jasper, Indiana

The third NFA letter we obtained was for a dry cleaner client in Jasper, Indiana. Our client began their operation in 1997 after converting the property from an ice cream parlor. Although there had been no evidence from historical records that dry cleaning operations had been conducted at the site prior to our client purchasing it, PERC contamination was found in soil and groundwater samples beneath the building in late 2012. Investigation and site characterization was performed, and in January 2014, we concluded that minimal chlorinated concentrations in soil and in the initial water-bearing zone were only located on a small area beneath the site.

We were able to prove that the contaminants were not migrating through groundwater or preferential pathways to offsite receptors or the river by using several lines of evidence. We requested that IDEM approve Site Characterization and recommended the site seek an Environmental Restrictive Covenant. In May 2015, IDEM issued a NFA letter to the site. Our client was looking to sell the business, and with this NFA status will be able to move forward and finalize the sale.

Is Your Environmental Due Diligence Really Diligent Enough?

Today’s savvy buyer of commercial and industrial real estate will always perform environmental studies, and even testing, as part of the due diligence process prior to completing a real estate transaction.  If a financial lender is involved, it’s a must. Due diligence most often starts with a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment.  If the assessment points to potential subsurface impacts from past onsite or nearby operations, a subsurface investigation (or Phase II investigation) is generally necessary to confirm site conditions.  The Phase II consists of a limited sampling event designed toward the specific concerns identified in the Phase I.  Phase II projects are often performed within a constrained budget established by the buyer, or being paid for by a seller who wants to spend as little money as possible, who hopes that the concerns identified in the Phase I are unfounded.  Phase II investigations are typically seen as high-level presence/absence assessments rather than complete quantitative investigation of the extent of any identified impacts.  In essence, a Phase II is utilized to metaphorically check a box “Yes” or “No” as an answer to whether or not a subsurface release has occurred from each identified historical concern.  For the Phase I and Phase II process to be successful indicators of the environmental conditions of subject properties, it is important for the consultant performing the due diligence activities to understand the how many different types of past operations could potentially result in releases. Additionally, due diligence professionals must have adequate expertise with designing minimal work plans, that will still answer the important questions related to getting the transaction deal done.

When performing Phase II assessments at properties involving a current or former dry cleaning or manufacturing facility with impacts from past usage of chlorinated solvents (i.e. PCE or TCE), a specific expertise is required. Releases of TCE and PCE can be difficult to detect with a limited investigation since these contaminants may migrate downward from a surface source in very narrow pathways that are hard to find.  A truly experienced environmental professional can also identify hidden areas where chlorinated solvents may have been released due to an intimate knowledge of historical solvent use and disposal practices.  There can never be enough existing information about site geology and the configuration of potential contaminant migration pathways prior to conducting a Phase II, if the consultant has not done sufficient research and planning on surrounding geological conditions, or doesn’t have significant industry knowledge of the contaminant behaviors. If borings are not placed in the appropriate locations or are not advanced deep enough to detect these sometimes sneaky contaminants, you might get a “clean” environmental report, when you actually have a problem that just went undetected due to an inadequate investigation.

An environmental due diligence investigation is only as good as the expertise that goes into the planning.  Although all parties involved in a real estate transaction hope for the best during the due diligence process, no one wins if existing contamination isn’t identified. This is especially true for properties where chlorinated solvents may have historically been used.  Sites impacted with chlorinated solvents typically can be exponentially more expensive to cleanup than other types of contamination.