No Need to Close Your Doors to Cleanup Contamination


Is your consultant listening? As consultants, we evaluate cleanup strategies based on the contaminant, site conditions, and their cost effectiveness. But what about what works for you? Has your consultant asked about your business operations and what cleanup approach works for you? Your interests need to be part of the cleanup plan. For example, many of you have heard the distressing stories of a dry-cleaner taking heavy financial losses because the environmental cleanup required the business to shut down. It’s bad enough to shut a business down at all, but I’ve stories where businesses were shut down for several weeks or more. As you know, once a customer finds another cleaner, getting them back typically doesn’t happen. However, this does not have to be the case. Businesses can maintain operations while having their environmental remediation needs addressed. 


Many invasive remedial technologies proposed to cleanup a source area or contaminant plume concentrate heavily on the most efficient approach to remove the contaminants. Often, they do not incorporate business needs of the building occupant into the remedial implementation plan, which leads to a financial hardship for the business owner. Invasive remedial technologies such as excavation, thermal extraction, soil vapor extraction (SVE), air-sparging, ozone-sparging, multi-phase extraction, and other remedial systems with above grade components can be very effective in meeting remedial objectives but may not be appropriate to meet your business needs. A good environmental consultant will incorporate your businesses operational needs into the remedial plan and work with you to identify an approach that is non-invasive, or at least minimally invasive so business operations can continue with minimal disruption.  

In a typical invasive event to install SVE and sparge wells, a drilling rig needs to access your interior space. These drilling rigs take up a lot of your business operational surface area and typically requires the equipment pertinent to your business to be moved or removed from the building entirely. This approach can require numerous well points to be installed since the effective radius of influence is centered on each point. Each of those points must be piped to the system trailer. These above ground pipes can take up more surface space and interferes with your business operations after the installation is done.  


Business friendly, non-invasive remedial technologies can alleviate the stress to your business, your staff, and yourself. These approaches can include some of the same technologies identified above, implemented in a way that does not interfere with your operations. A common and effective non-invasive approach is to use horizontal drilling techniques to install the SVE and air-sparge system components. The horizontal drill rig sets up access points outside the building, and space permitting, at a distance from the building to not interfere with your customer traffic. A horizontal drill rig can bore multiple lines from the same access point. These lines can be horizontally and vertically distributed to optimize well placement. Additionally, horizontal wells can have a greater area of influence from just one well screen installed along the target zone than the traditional vertical well method. Standard vertical well installation requires multiple well locations in a line to influence the same area as one horizontal well. The use of horizontal drilling methods can allow the business to stay in operation throughout the remedial system installation event. Additionally, there will be no encumbering piping components inside the building during remedial system operation.  

There are also minimally invasive remedial techniques that can be implemented to reduce the impact to business operations. Conducting remedial action through chemical and/or microbial injections can limit the time needed to access your business operational space. In comparison to an excavation event that can take a week to months and required significant if not complete access to your business space, an injection event can be completed in a couple days. It is possible to use small hand-cart size rigs that can maneuver around your business equipment limiting the need to stop business operation. The injection approach uses specifically designed mixtures to treat the impacts below your business operations. To reduce the chance of subsequent injections events, your environmental consultant can work with suppliers to careful design and tailor these chemical and microbial mixtures to meet site-specific conditions, which can increase the remedial rate and success of remedial actions at your property, reducing the chance for follow up events.  

Limited trenching is also a minimally invasive approach in comparison to others. Instead of trying to remove the contaminants via excavation or injections with a high density of locations, the installation of perforated pipes in the subsurface for an SVE or vapor mitigation system along accessible paths within your building could be sufficient to remediate the contaminant mass. An appropriate design could be installed in a short timeframe and allow for continued business operations during installation. Simple actions such as placing plywood over open trenches until the piping and backfill can be placed and the floor resealed will allow your business to continue operations through the installation.  

As with everything, cost is king. That is no different with environmental remediation and alternative remedial approaches. Therefore, a cost benefit analysis is a critical part of the assessment process. For example, horizontal drilling is much more costly per foot than conventional drilling. However, the cheaper cost of a conventional drilling approach compounded by the loss of revenue may be significantly more than selecting the expensive horizontal drilling operation that allows you to keep your business doors open during installation.  

Learn how to be a good neighbor during an environmental cleanup on a drycleaning property.

There are many different approaches to implement a business-friendly remedial action, those reviewed above are just a few. Your consultant should bend over backwards to minimize business interruption. Whether that requires working at night or over the weekends when your operations are closed or using hand equipment instead of mechanical drills and machinery, there is almost always a workaround. Your environmental consultant should listen to you and be able to provide you a comparison summary of different remedial approaches, the rough costs for each approach, anticipated timelines, and potential business interruptions for each approach, if any. In the end, there is no one answer that solves the “best approach” concern, but with the right environmental consultant by your side, you should be able to find the least restrictive approach that allows the remedial objectives to be met and keeps you financially stable with minimal business disruptions.  

Every project is different, every property owner has unique concerns and needs, and these environmental demands that interfere with your business are not fun or what you want. We are here to help make your environmental cleanup event as easy as possible.  Contact us to learn more on how we can help you address your environmental risks in a business-friendly approach.  

As seen in Cleaner & Launderer

Author: R. Scott Powell, PE, LPG, Regional Director 

R. Scott Powell has 20+ years of environmental consulting experience. Powell’s expertise covers a wide variety of projects ranging from due diligence, site investigations, assessment of appropriate remedial technologies, to remedial system installation, operations, and maintenance. Powell’s experience includes sites with co-mingled contaminant plumes, chlorinated solvents, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), petroleum, metals, asbestos, lead based paint, and various other hazardous materials. He manages complex relationships and fosters cohesive involvement of responsible parties and regulatory agencies. Powell manages negotiations with state and federal regulatory agencies and provides litigation support in matters concerning environmental issues.

Brad Cord promoted to Vapor Mitigation Specialist

EnviroForensics recently promoted Brad Cord to vapor mitigation specialist. Brad has demonstrated his attention to detail for our clients and regularly goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide innovative and cost-effective approaches to traditional remedial operations as well as vapor mitigation. 

Brad has excelled in his testing for and implementation of vapor mitigation strategies ranging from residential homes and apartments to large commercial buildings and schools. We are excited to have Brad as a key component of our vapor mitigation team, we look forward to his continued professional development, and his contributions to our company’s continued success. 

Get to know Brad Cord through our Q&A session. 

 Brad CordVapor Mitigation Specialist 

Question: How long have you been at EnviroForensics? What responsibilities have you had since you’ve been at EnviroForensics?
Answer: I’ve been with Enviroforensics for a little over two years now and I have participated in a wide variety of technical tasks. My main focus has been maintaining proper operation of our Soil Vapor Extraction systems, as well as participating in the design and installation of a number of Vapor Mitigation Systems in new and existing homes and large buildings. As a member of the technical group, our main function is to aid in any mechanical capacity needed. Which can vary from technical advice, mechanical troubleshooting, custom fabrication, and orchestration of construction related projects. 

Q: What types of projects does your department work on?
A: Each project presents its own unique challenges to overcome. And that’s exactly what I need! I am just as excited in the beginning of a new project as I was in the beginning of the project that was last completed. “On to the next Adventure!” 

Q: What project are you excited about right now?
A: We’ve been busy with various construction projects over the past year and a half and that has kept me extremely busy. So basically, my work life is a mixture of estimation, preparation, and implementation. 

Q: What will you be focused on for this upcoming year?
A: Over the next year I plan to focus on furthering my education in the areas of chemical vapor mitigation. And as always, I will be doing my very best ensure continued success in any way possible.  

Q: What are you most excited about in your new role?
A: The best thing about my new position as Vapor Mitigation Specialist is the feeling that I have been invested in. It means that my efforts have made an impact, and that there is opportunity to grow even further within vapor mitigation industry. I feel empowered and determined to rise! 

Q: If you had to explain what you do in two sentences for the general public, how would you explain it?
A: My son asked me what my job was a while back… I told him I make places safe for people to live and work in. And there are people that need my help everywhere! 

Are you interested in a career at EnviroForensicsApply today. 

Employee Spotlight: Grace Randall

Each month, EnviroForensics recognizes talented individuals, like our Vapor Intrusion Specialist, Grace Randall. Get to know Grace inside and outside of EnviroForensics 

Grace Randall is our resident expert on all things vapor intrusion and she is appreciated by her coworkers for her empathetic style and her high level of integrity. 

Meet Grace Randall, Vapor Intrusion Specialist 

Question: What’s your background and career path?
Answer: I have a Biology degree from the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, and I started as a field professional at EnviroForensics after graduation. I have been very fortunate to continue and strengthen my career here at EnviroForensics. 

Q: How do you feel about being recognized by your coworkers?
A: Everyone at EnviroForensics works hard, puts in the hours to complete tasks to keep the momentum going and has strengths I rely on. I am very grateful that my coworkers see me that way as well.

Q: What do you enjoy about working at EnviroForensics?
A: I enjoy working with my coworkers and the opportunity to specialize and flourish in what I am most interested in like vapor intrusion investigations and vapor mitigation projects.  

Q: What is one of your most exciting projects at EnviroForensics?
A: We’ve been working with a local community school corporation on their vapor mitigation projects. Being part of such an interesting project was exciting, challenging and a learning experience. 

Q: What is your life like outside of EnviroForensics?
A: I love animals, so you will find me pet sitting all kinds of pets outside of work. The list includes dogs, cats, lizards, chickens, birds, bunnies, etc.

Introducing Our New Field Professional II Lance Summers

EnviroForensics recently welcomed Lance Summers onto the Field Team as a Field Professional II. Lance has already demonstrated proficiency in sampling fundamentals and procedures and is expected to take on more complex and sensitive field assignments.  

Talking about this new addition to the team, EnviroForensics’ Director of Field Services Casey McFall, CHMM says, “In my initial discussions with Lance, I got the impression that he’s reliable and hard-working. In his short time here, he’s not only proven that true to me and my colleagues, but that he’s also able to work through problems in the field and offer efficient, sound solutions. The sky’s the limit for Lance’s career potential and I’m really glad he’s on our team.”

Get to know Lance Summers inside and outside of EnviroForensics through our Q&A session.

Lance Summers, Field Professional II

Question: Where did you grow up?
Answer: Versailles, Indiana

Q: Where did you study and what did you study?
A: I attended college at Indiana University, and I studied Environmental Science/Management.

Q: Did you do research during your studies?
A: I assisted a Ball State University professor with fish surveys on the Wabash River. The survey locations were downstream of major industrial runoff locations. The purpose of the survey was to utilize an integrated biotic index score based on fish assemblages to determine if the Wabash river was being adversely affected by pollution such as agriculture or waste-water runoff. It was a very exciting project and I was able to see first hand the impacts that human activity can have on a river.

Q: Why are you passionate about the environment?
A: I have a passion for the outdoors. Any day outside is better than a day inside.

Q: Why did you choose to go into environmental science?
A: Initially I chose environmental science because I wanted to work outside. As I’ve continued in my career, I learned that I really appreciate the opportunities environmental consulting provides. We are able to make a paycheck while working to protect human health and the environment. I personally think it’s one of the most fulfilling careers. I’ll never forget remediating lead-contaminated yards near Evansville, Indiana and seeing for myself the type of effects lead can have on human health. My project showed the impact contamination can have on human health because I met a boy with developmental issues living in a home where lead was found in the yard. We were able to remediate his yard so that he could continue playing outside without exposing himself to lead-contaminated soil.    

Q: Why did you want to work at EnviroForensics?
A: My wife and I were looking to relocate to Indianapolis and EnviroForensics was at the top of my list. I worked for a different Indianapolis consultant after undergrad and I remember being at an IDEM conference and seeing a presentation that EnviroForensics had prepared. I was impressed that the approach was well thought out and concentrated on specific areas of concern such as utility corridors, dumpster locations, and off-site drains. EnviroForensics’ projects also include dry cleaner sites, and I learned that they can quickly become very complex. I wanted to work for a consultant that I viewed as on-top of their industry.

Q: What are you most excited about for your new role at EnviroForensics?
A: It’s great to be back in Indiana and I’m excited about getting back to fieldwork. 

Are you interested in becoming an EnviroForensics field professional? Apply today.

Employee Spotlight: Jennifer Hallgarth

Each month, EnviroForensics recognizes talented individuals, like our Director of Technical Operations, Jennifer Hallgarth, LPG. Get to know Jennifer inside and outside of EnviroForensics.

Jennifer Hallgarth, Director of Technical Operations

Question: What’s your background and career path?
Answer: I’m a geologist who always wanted to be an engineer. It turns out that wasn’t my strength. I’m bad at math, but I’m good at understanding the insurance/claim process. And I never take “no” for an answer (unless it’s the good kind of “no”, like “No Further Action”).

Q: How do you feel about being recognized by your coworkers?
A: It is an honor to work on this team. Everyone works really hard here, every day.  

Q: What do you enjoy about working at EnviroForensics?
A: We have an incredible team! I am so impressed with what we accomplish together. We continually adapt to industry needs and our evolving business model. We face challenges and celebrations together- like true (work) family.

Q: What is one of your most exciting projects at EnviroForensics?
A: I really love to watch employees grow, and support that process.

Q: What is your life like outside of EnviroForensics?
A: I spend most of my free time with my 3-year-old son. What an amazing gift. He is without a doubt the best part of my day. “While we try to teach our children about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”

Recap of the 2019 NELA Annual Meeting

EnviroForensics’ Account Executive, Joe Miller, shares some insights from the 2019 NorthEast Laundry Association’s Annual Meeting and Fall Conference.

We were pleased to attend the 107th NorthEast Laundry Association (NELA) Annual Meeting and Fall Conference in Newport, Rhode Island. Established in 1911, NELA is one of the longest operating associations for textile supply and service companies in the country. NELA member companies clean and maintain reusable textile products like uniforms, sheets, table linen, shop and print towels, floor mats, mops and other items to businesses in all industries. 

This year’s Annual Meeting and Conference was packed with opportunities for laundry operators to network, share ideas, and learn new ways to maintain and promote their businesses, and cultivate relationships.    

Annual Meeting Overview

Breakfast and “Cracker Barrel” Session

Saturday started bright and early with the breakfast and “Cracker Barrel” session. All conference attendees gathered in the Newport Marriott’s Grand Ballroom to partake in the most important meal of the day and hear each vendor give a 30-second overview speech about their company and how they work hand-in-hand with the laundry operators. This was a useful session to get to know the players in the industry and break the ice in the process. 

The Cracker Barrel Session during breakfast gave vendors an opportunity to give a quick, 30-second speech about their companies to the group.

Educational Sessions

After everyone had a chance to reacquaint themselves, it was time for the education sessions. EnviroForensics had the honor of presenting on environmental investigations and insurance recovery. Our presentation, Environmental Investigation and Cleanup: Getting Into the Driver’s Seat, talked about the complex environmental investigation and cleanup process and how to minimize out-of-pocket costs and add value to your business.

EnviroForensics’ Joe Miller presenting “Environmental Investigation and Cleanup: Getting into the Driver’s Seat.”

After the presentation, we had the opportunity to learn more about individual NELA members concerns regarding environmental issues.

Learn how insurance archeology can find historical insurance policies that help protect businesses from environmental liability claims.

Capping off the educational sessions was the President of Fortune Web Marketing, Jennifer Rae Stine, who talked about digital marketing and how it can be applied to the textile industry. Her presentation focused on leveraging social media and search engine optimization (SEO) to “win the web,” and create new business in this mobile-driven, user-centric landscape in which we live.

Networking and Forging New Relationships

The conference ended with a formal dinner and reception where laundry owners and operators had another opportunity to mingle with vendors and sponsors in attendance and create new business connections. We talked with some laundry business owners about their own concerns with potential environmental liability, and answered questions about the process. As usual, it was rewarding to see small business owners come together around a common cause and talk about how they can continue to support one another.

If you want to become a member of the NorthEast Laundry Association, visit

Joe Miller, Account Executive
Joe Miller brings 15+ years of account management and environmental due diligence experience. He is a licensed mitigator and understands the technical aspects of contaminated sites as well as the associated business liabilities. As an Account Executive, Miller conducts preliminary assessments to help determine if historical coverage can be a funding option and provides proven solutions to private business owners including dry cleaners, small-large manufacturing facilities, municipalities, and redevelopment coalitions.

Q&A: EnviroForensics Answers Questions From Members of the Pennsylvania Delaware Cleaners Association

An environmental investigation and cleanup at a dry cleaner presents a series of complex and unique challenges. With the help of an insurance archeologist, a trusted environmental attorney, and an experienced team of environmental consultants, it doesn’t have to be so difficult.

EnviroForensics’ President, Jeff Carnahan, LPG, Director of Accounts, Dru Shields, and Account Executive, Joe Miller discussed this in a recent webinar co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Delaware Cleaners Association (PDCA). At the end, attendees submitted questions about their own environmental situations for the panel to answer.

Watch the webinar “How to use old insurance to pay for environmental cleanup,” to see the recorded presentation and Q&A session, and download the slideshow

This Q&A session has been lightly edited for clarity.

1. I completed a cleanup and it was of great expense. Who can I talk to to look into historic insurance?

Dru Shields: When a cleanup has already been completed, it is possible to recover some of the costs that have been spent already. You may not recover all costs. Depending on case law in your state, there may be some hurdles. But, seeking out an insurance archeologist can help you go through your information, and locate historical insurance policies by:

  • recovering old business records and old historical insurance policies,
  • walking through the process of pulling together the corporate history,
  • pulling together any information on stakeholders that were involved in the business, and
  • pulling together any business records that you do have will be helpful when you initially reach out to an insurance archeologist.

2. How does a dry cleaning business owner start the insurance archeology and environmental cleanup process if there hasn’t been a lawsuit or a sale to trigger a defense?

Shields: That is a really good question. We’ve actually had a few of these situations come through recently. Even if you don’t have an action against you that’s going to trigger your insurance, locating those policies and making sure you have a safety net in place for when that situation arises, is always going to put you in a much better position than if you were to be in a reactive position, when it comes to actually getting the claim needed, whether that’s the lawsuit or a letter from your state regulatory agency. As I mentioned before, with the lawsuits it doesn’t necessarily have to be a contentious lawsuit. It could be an agreement you have in place with someone—whether it’s a neighbor or a landlord—someone who understands that to get the situation cleaned up and addressed, you’re going to need a lawsuit. So, that is something that we can assist with as well.

3. What is the average cost of a Phase I and a Phase II investigation?

Joe Miller: The average cost of a Phase I and a Phase II can vary all over the map. A Phase I is mostly a desktop investigation to see what the history of the property usage was, so not only was there just a dry cleaner, but what was there in the past? What could have potentially impacted that property beforehand? And also, what, in the surrounding area, could be impacting that property, too? What is the risk? So, the cost of a Phase I can range anywhere from $1,800 to upwards of $2,500-$3,000.

A Phase II are a little more difficult to name a price on because that’s really tough to determine how many holes to poke in the ground. That’s an actual investigation where you’re sampling; you’re taking samples of the soil beneath your site, you’re taking samples of groundwater beneath the site, sending those for analysis, and then generating a robust report of those findings. So, in any case a Phase I or a Phase II, we still suggest that you do your insurance due diligence first; Make sure we have a safety net of payment in place, in case something does pop out of those, especially a Phase II. And, be ready to go in case an environmental issue is found in those investigations.

Jeff Carnahan: I think the cost of a Phase II—if you’ve done what you’re talking about and actually have done the homework and find out that you’ve got coverage in place—the cost of your Phase II investigation can be mitigated, it can be kept minimal. In that situation what you’re concerned about is: Do I have a problem or don’t I have a problem? And, since we’ve worked with a lot of dry cleaners across the country, we know of three or four locations at a site where a problem is likely to be found. If that Phase II is to satisfy a lender, they might need more data confirming a property’s compliance. So, on the short-end, you’re looking at $10,000 – $12,000 for a minimal Phase II. If you need to satisfy your lending institution for a transaction, it might be closer to $25,000.

4. Can you use insurance archeology in addition to state-funded environmental cleanup programs?

Shields: The short answer here is yes. We have worked with a few different state funds to keep dry cleaners eligible for the fund. The goal is to use the historical insurance policies to pay for the cleanup. We have also worked with funds to implement language where a dry cleaner is required to look into locating historical insurance policies before they’re eligible for the fund. So, those funds want members to make sure there isn’t another source of funding before they’re able to dip into the funds provided by the states. And, that’s not to say though that there aren’t some funds that may have rules in place that would maybe not allow for insurance where they would prefer people who are using insurance to use only insurance, but if you have insurance and it’s going to cover it, and you have a state fund, and we’re able to keep you eligible, then yes, you can use both.

Learn more about how insurance archeology can help dry cleaners in states where the dedicated cleanup funds are drying up.

5. Will PERC naturally degrade over time if nothing is done?

Carnahan: I’ll try not to geek out too much on the science, guys. A lot of times we’ll go investigate gasoline sites and we’ll find evidence of impacts, but gasoline contamination will naturally degrade over time. If it’s a really old spill, sometimes you don’t have to do much. On the other hand, chlorinated solvents are considered recalcitrant compounds. That means that they don’t go anywhere, and they are very stubborn. Under natural conditions, there can be some breakdown, but not substantial over time. With Perchlorethylene, the degradation process that microbes will assist with; it goes from perchlorethylene down to trichlorethylene, so these chlorine atoms will cleave off of the molecule over time. We have investigated 50, 60, 70 year old dry cleaners or chlorinated solvent sites where we only see perchlorethylene; There’s been zero degradation over time. So, if your plan is, “Gee, my grandpa never did anything because he was hoping it would go away over time. My dad did the same thing. My mom did the same thing. And, now I’m doing the same thing,” it may not work out for you very well.

Miller: One other piece to mention is the differences of geology in different areas. One of these degradation materials that Perc turns into is vinyl chloride, which likes to hit sand and travel even faster through sand than actual Perc does. So, sometimes a problem that could have been a big problem to begin with, can be a miles-long problem after years and years of motion in groundwater.

See why Perc contamination expensive to clean up, and why an experienced consultant is required to manage the issue in a cost-effective way.

6. What if contamination is found on my property, but money is not available for me to clean it up? Can I be shut down?

Carnahan: Not really. But you can be essentially hounded by the regulatory agency, and they’ll be on your back for a long time. Regulatory agencies are able to enforce stipulated penalties and/or fines if work does not move forward, but realistically if the money is just not there, there’s not a whole lot they can do about it other than to continue to be on your case about it. Now, ultimately if there’s actually a human exposure because of the contamination at your site, but you literally do not have the money to clean it up, the EPA or the state agency can actually come in and take control of your site and spend money to take care of that ongoing exposure. However, just because the state comes in it doesn’t mean that they’re going to shoulder that cost. You’re going to get hit with a bill for money that somebody else spent. So, again, if you’re having trouble like that, we really recommend looking for your old policies. Let us look for those historical insurance assets so you can take control of the environmental issue yourself, because only then will be able to really take care of the situation.

7. On average, how long does it take to look for old insurance policies?

Shields: We typically give our insurance archeologists about 90 days to complete a project. If it needs to be expedited, we can take that into consideration as well, but the average time is 90 days.

8. How do I select a good environmental consultant?

Carnahan: Dry cleaner sites can be very specific. The contamination that occurs at a dry cleaner site is most likely operations-oriented. Whether it’s been a series of boil-overs in your still, whether or not there’s been a release to the sewer from the separator water, whether or not it’s been from a muck pile or from a drum of spent cartridges out back, you really need to find a consultant who has specific dry cleaner experience because they’re the ones who are going to know where to look. They’re the ones who will be able to more efficiently define the nature and extent of contamination in a reasonable manner. Also, chlorinated solvents are really tricky. They don’t break down over time. The pure product is heavier than water, which means that whenever it migrates down to the water table and continues down beneath the water table, it’s really hard to find, and if you don’t have a consultant that’s experienced with that specifically, it can be difficult to get your site cleaned up. So, how do you go about doing that? We can help you with that and can work with you. If you’re located where we can’t specifically get out there and start doing the investigation ourselves, which is of course one of our specialities, we’ll work with you. We’ll stand beside you during the claims process. We’ll stand beside you during the investigation process, and make sure that everything is on the up and up and looking good.

See our list of 5 considerations for when a dry cleaner is selecting an environmental consultant

9. We’ve found our insurance policies, but what happens when the insurance company no longer exists?

Shields: We’ve seen cases where insurance companies have been acquired by other insurance companies, and in that case you can find the chain of ownership and figure out who the main carrier is and whether or not you can still tender claims on those policies. We have also seen cases where the insurance carrier has been completely liquidated, and in some instances, there have been time stamps on how long you can tender claims. If that timeframe is up, you won’t be able to tender on those policies. In many cases we’ve found that dry cleaners switch insurance carriers over time. The likelihood of a dry cleaner having one insurance carrier for the entire extent of their ownership is low. It’s more likely that they would have changed to get better premiums, so the goal there would be to find policies that would have been held by insurance carriers that are still solvent.

Do you have a question that hasn’t been answered here? Contact us for a confidential consultation.


Jeff Carnahan, LPG, has 20+ years of environmental consulting and remediation experience. His technical expertise focuses on the investigation and interpretation of subsurface releases of hazardous substances for the purpose of evaluating and controlling the risk and cost implications. He has focused on being a partner with the dry cleaning industry for the past decade, and he’s a frequent contributor to the national dry cleaning publication Cleaner & Launderer. He is an industry leader in understanding that environmental risk includes not only cleanup costs, but also known and unknown third-party liability.

Dru Shields has over 10 years of account management experience in the environmental consulting and engineering industry. She manages a team of account executives who work across the country. Shields is a member of numerous regional dry cleaning associations in addition to serving on the Midwest Drycleaning and Laundry Institute (MWDLI) Advisory Council. Shields has extensive experience in assisting clients in securing funding for their projects through historical insurance policies. As Director of Accounts, Shields helps business and property owners facing regulatory action to navigate and manage their liability.

Joe Miller brings 15+ years of account management and environmental due diligence experience. He has a background in geology, is a licensed mitigator, and understands the technical aspects of contaminated sites as well as the associated business liabilities. As an Account Executive, Miller conducts preliminary assessments and provides proven solutions to private business owners, small-large manufacturing facilities, municipalities, and redevelopment coalitions.

Help Protect the Environment on World Cleanup Day, And Every Day

A group photo of EnviroForensics employees after the World Cleanup Day event.


This Saturday, September 21st, is World Cleanup Day, a day dedicated to rid the planet of litter and mismanaged waste. 380 million people across the globe are expected to band together with their neighbors, roll up their sleeves, and clean up their communities one trash bag at a time. 

We celebrated early by going around our neighborhood in the Indianapolis North Meridian Corridor on Friday to pick up wrappers, aluminum cans, cigarette butts, plastic bags, and other litter. It’s an easy way to show neighborhood pride, and it’s one of the many things we do as a company to protect the environment and give back to the community.   

EnviroForensics employees pick up litter around North Meridian Corridor.

We clean up environmental contamination

We’re a national full-service environmental consulting firm solving complex environmental issues. We investigate and clean up environmental contamination for small business owners, large multinational organizations and governments including dry cleaners, municipalities, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, legal, banks and lenders, manufacturers, industrial launders and textiles, petroleum and agribusiness. The ultimate goal of our work is to use our collective expertise in environmental science, geology, and engineering to clean up properties for our clients and the surrounding community.

We’re bound together by our common value to look after the environment 

We’re a group of inspired scientists, geologists, and engineers that cares deeply for the planet and understand the importance of protecting our environment. This passion fuels us both inside and outside the office. Our employees regularly volunteer their own time to events that protect the environment and enrich the community. We’re also a proud member of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM) Partners for Pollution Prevention

Read more about the Indiana Partners for Pollution Prevention and how we prevent waste at the office each day

Our commitment to the environment is what brings us together 

We are committed to protecting the environment, and this is part of the company’s DNA. Our employees inspire each other to be environmental stewards and commit to more sustainable behaviors. Here are three quotes to help inspire you to live an environmentally conscious life. 

You can download the below graphics and share them on social media with the hashtag #WorldCleanupDay and tag @EnviroForensics. 




We invite you to be environmental stewards every day

Making the world a cleaner place doesn’t necessarily require you to volunteer your time with a neighborhood cleanup group, although we highly recommend it. You can pick up litter during your daily routine, whether it’s on the morning jaunt from your car to the office, or your evening walks around the block with your dog. Here are three simple tips to incorporate litter pickup into your day-to-day life: 

  1. Carry napkins: One of the biggest mental obstacles to picking up litter is the germ factor. Not wanting to touch it with your bare hands is a reasonable excuse. Carry napkins in your purse or pockets to give yourself an added layer of defense when you pick up that discarded beer can on the sidewalk. 
  2. Carry hand sanitizer: If you don’t want to carry napkins around, a small bottle of hand sanitizer can go a long way in giving even the most fastidious germaphobe some peace of mind.
  3. Know what you should and should not pick up: There are some things a napkin or hand sanitizer just won’t protect you from. For these items, it’s better to report them to the proper authorities. Things like:
    • Needles
    • Human waste
    • Personal hygiene products
    • Electrical items
    • Dead animals
    • Bottles of liquid
    • Unlabeled bottles

You can help cut down on the amount of waste being created. Check out our list of 10 things you can do to reduce plastic pollution.

This post is brought to you by the EnviroForensics Sustainability Council

The EnviroForensics Sustainability Council advances education through community relations and implements sustainable practices in our operations and facilities.

Environmental Cleanup 101: Understanding what to expect during the remediation process


Environmental lightbulb in front of chalkboard with remediation and health-related sketches


For those who don’t frequently deal with environmental cleanup (also known as remediation), the reasoning, objectives, and process can be a bit of a black box. It’s not dissimilar to how most of us feel about a medical procedure. Here are three things people usually feel before embarking on a medical procedure:

  1. We must rely on the expertise and knowledge of others to even know there is a specific problem;
  2. We trust that the healing procedure being proposed will fix the problem
  3. We don’t really know what the procedure will be like, but we know that it might hurt.

The medical analogy is a particularly good analogy for the environmental investigation and cleanup process. Previously, I’ve discussed Environmental Investigations 101: Understanding PCE Contamination and how the collection of subsurface samples and the application of scientific principles result in a picture of what the contamination is, where it is, and how bad the problem is. In the medical analogy, this would be the phase consisting of seeing the doctor with the evidence you have that there might be a problem, getting tests completed like an MRI or a biopsy, and receiving the diagnosis.

Infographic of the environmental remediation process and its analogous medical treatment process steps
An easy way to understand the environmental cleanup process is to compare environmental remediation to the medical treatment process.

Upon hearing that a problem exists, the anxiety can start to take hold for the patient because questions arise, for which the answers are unknown. Some questions may include:

  1. What can be done about it?
  2. Is there a cure?
  3. How long will this take to cure?
  4. Does my doctor know what they are doing?
  5. How much is this going to cost?!
  6. Will my insurance cover it?

These questions represent the unknown, and the unknown can be terrifying. Any doctor will tell you that some people are so afraid of these questions that they’d rather not even know if they have a problem, and foolishly never seek a medical exam. Any doctor will tell you if you think you have a problem…find it and fix it. You’ll live a longer and happier life. With the medical analogy in mind, I’d like to focus this article back on the environmental remediation process to answer as many questions as possible for you, to eliminate the unknowns, and to alleviate the associated anxiety.

So, let’s say that from the environmental investigation your dry cleaner site has just been diagnosed with a nasty case of contamination by hazardous chemicals. Since the goal of your environmental practitioner is to ensure that the problem gets fixed, there first needs to be an assessment of all the potential cleanup technologies that could be used alongside the specific characteristics of your site. Questions that need to be answered include:

  1. Are any people currently being exposed to the contamination?
  2. What amount of contaminant may safely remain after cleanup and still be suitable for future planned land use (i.e. what are appropriate cleanup objectives)?
  3. How will each potential remedial technology interact with the exact type of soils and geologic materials beneath your site?
  4. How will the naturally occurring geochemistry of soils and groundwater interact with any potential treatment chemicals?
  5. How long would each remediation technology take to reach the cleanup objectives if implemented?
  6. What are the comparable unit costs per measure of contaminant removed from the ground for each anticipated technology?

Ultimately, the question to be answered is, What is the best and most cost-effective cleanup technology to meet our objectives? This process is called a Feasibility Study and it determines which cleanup approach is the most feasible.

Read about a former dry cleaning site that we cleaned up in 120 days with thermal technology.

During the feasibility study, as the business or property owner, you’ll need to make sure to speak up and let your consultant know if there are any limitations that they should be considering for the cleanup approach. For example, parking areas that absolutely must remain clear during business hours, areas of the building that cannot be disturbed no matter what, or even simple things like traffic flow patterns for your drive-through lane. We have done work for a lot of dry cleaners, so we always think to ask about these kinds of things, but not every remediation engineer does. All your business considerations could have a significant impact on which cleanup technology can be implemented. If your building is located directly over the area of soil contamination, a common remedial technology could be demolition and excavation. While this may make perfect sense to the remediation engineer, having your building torn down in order to dig a big hole may not exactly fit into your business operation plans. The bottom line here is to speak up early in the process and make sure your business needs are heard before the project begins.

Once the appropriate cleanup objectives and remediation technology have been decided, there are a few steps to go through before work can begin. Typically, but not always, the regulatory agency will want to look at your remediation plan and have a chance to comment on it, or even to approve it. Once the agency has given the head-nod, an important point to remember is that you want to have the money conversation before you send the plan to the regulatory agency. Just like you always want to check whether or not your insurance will cover your medical procedure before you get it done. I talk about the cost of cleanup and funding alternatives a lot, so I’m going to skip that conversation, for‌ ‌now, other than to say that the money talk is the very first talk that you should have way before the investigation process even begins.

When you have gotten the green light to get started on the remedial action, things will start to move quickly because it’s go-time. Typically, when remediation work begins, there will be a flurry of activity for two weeks to a month while the initial work is completed. Remedial strategies commonly consist of an aggressive contaminant reduction effort, followed by a long period of monitoring to see how it has worked. During the initial treatment, there may be drill rigs, dump trucks, trailers, and people all over your site, and things could even be a bit messy.

Your environmental consultant should have provided you with a detailed schedule of events and they should keep you informed during the process so that you know exactly what to expect. You’ll need that information to keep your customers informed. I have had many clients actually take this time to post signage explaining to their customers that the business is doing their part to clean up an old environmental problem, demonstrating their commitment to their community and customers.

Are you looking for an environmental consultant? Read 5 Considerations When Selecting an Environmental Consultant for Dry Cleaners.

The Dygert Family, owners of Mercury Cleaners holding sign in front of business promoting their environmental remediation efforts
The Dygert family proudly stands in front of their dry cleaning store with a sign that lets their customers know they are remediating environmental contamination. Learn more about how the Dygert family addressed their environmental contamination.

After the initial cleanup effort is undertaken, things will slow down a lot. Monitoring of soil gas and groundwater conditions will need to be performed on a regular, routine quarterly basis for at least a year or so as the contaminant plume reacts to the aggressive, upfront cleanup effort. So, every three months your consultant will come back and collect the monitoring samples, and then they will be gone again. As mentioned previously, it is important to stay involved in the process so that you know how things are going. If you aren’t interested in the scientific details of the remediation monitoring results, at least understand the current conditions as concentrations of the contaminant should start lowering and getting closer to the cleanup objectives. When contaminant levels do reach the closure objectives, if all has gone according to plan, you get to start another monitoring period so that the regulatory agency has confidence that there won’t be a rebound or any remaining post-treatment contaminant in the future.

You can see how the environmental cleanup process gets a reputation for taking a long time because it does. Even after the bulk of actual cleanup activities are completed, there are likely at least two to three years of post-remedial monitoring that needs to happen. Fortunately, routine monitoring isn’t as disruptive as the initial cleanup action, but every few months you will get a reminder that you aren’t quite out of the woods yet, and that can be frustrating. Another thing to make sure you talk to your consultant about: There will be one or more drums of purge water generated during groundwater sampling that will probably need to be stored behind your building for a couple of weeks after each sampling event. Your consultant will label it and manage for its disposal, but there will need to be a short wait while analytical data comes back from the lab and removal can be arranged. If it’s in the way or takes too long to be picked-up, say something.

When follow-up monitoring results show that contaminant concentrations have been reduced and have stayed that way, your consultant will submit all the results to the regulatory agency and ask for case closure. Sometimes this is called a No Further Action status. This is one last time to be patient because most regulatory agencies could take anywhere from two to six months to make this determination and set you free.

The site remediation process can be long, taxing and scary, but hopefully, these insights will give you a little bit of an insider’s perspectives on what to expect. Sometimes consultants and attorneys forget that even though they deal with this process every day, you don’t. Ask them to take the time to explain things to you in detail and help you understand what it will look like from your perspective and your customers’ perspectives. As commonly said, knowing is half the battle.

If you are going through the cleanup process and you have questions, or just want to bounce something off me, drop me an email at I’d be more than happy to have a conversation with you. I’m here to help.

Contact EnviroForensics, the dry cleaning industry’s most trusted environmental consultant.

As seen in Cleaner & Launderer

Headshot of Jeff CarnahanJeff Carnahan, President at EnviroForensics
Jeff Carnahan, LPG, has 20+ years of environmental consulting and remediation experience. His technical expertise focuses on the investigation and interpretation of subsurface releases of hazardous substances for the purpose of evaluating and controlling the risk and cost implications. He has focused on being a partner with the dry cleaning industry for the past decade, and he’s a frequent contributor to the national dry cleaning publication Cleaner & Launderer. He is an industry leader in understanding that environmental risk includes not only cleanup costs, but also known and unknown third-party liability.

Dry Cleaner Becomes Environmental Steward by Participating in Indiana Voluntary Remediation Program

The Dygert family (left to right: Linda, Brett, Norm) proudly stands in front of their dry cleaning store with their community relations sign that lets their customers know they are remediating environmental contamination.

Dry cleaners can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to finding out if they have perc contamination. An Indiana dry cleaner was given a heads-up about possible contamination on their property when a neighboring business conducted a Phase 1 as part of the real estate transaction process to sell their business. Instead of burying their heads, the dry cleaner faced the contamination head-on by joining their state’s voluntary remediation program (VRP).

Mercury Cleaners is a family-owned small business and has been owned and operated by the Dygert family since 1950. They’re proud members of the Valparaiso, Indiana community, and after cleaning up perc contamination from decades of operating their business, they’re still serving their loyal customers today.

Finding Out About the Contamination

The neighboring gas station near the dry cleaner was preparing to sell its business. Therefore, the gas station conducted a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) as part of their due diligence required by their real estate transaction. The Phase 1 ESA found PCE contamination in the soil and groundwater which could not have originated from the gas station. The gas station owners alerted the Dygert family to the situation.

Mercury Cleaners received a Special Notice of Liability from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). The Dygert family was very concerned about what would happen next and what it would cost them. The Dygert family couldn’t afford to pay for the clean up on their own. If they were forced to pay for the clean up of the historical contamination, they would have had to go into bankruptcy and close their long-standing family business.

The Dygert family already knew of EnviroForensics because they had attended dry cleaning seminars where EnviroForensics CEO Steve Henshaw presented about insurance archeology and the remediation of PCE contamination. They also read EnviroForensics monthly column The Environmental Corner in Cleaner & Launderer.

EnviroForensics explained that we could conduct confidential insurance archeology to locate historical insurance coverage and tender those claims with their insurance carriers in order to pay for the cleanup of the PERC contamination.

“Working with EnviroForensics was a huge relief and the nights weren’t so sleepless because if Mercury Cleaners had to foot the bill for this, we wouldn’t have stayed in business. If you want to sell your business, you’re going to have to deal with this. If anyone is thinking about hiring EnviroForensics, I would say, without a doubt, go for it.” –The Dygert Family, Mercury Cleaners

This is when Mercury Cleaners chose to voluntarily participate in the IDEM Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP) and become environmental stewards. The VRP encourages environmental cleanups to mitigate the risk that contaminants pose to human health and the environment. They do this by providing a process for property owners to voluntarily address environmental investigations and remediations on a property that may be contaminated. The VRP along with secured funds through insurance archeology provided the funding safety net the Dygert family needed to confidently begin the investigation and remediation process.

In this video, the Dygert family shares more about their environmental and remediation process with EnviroForensics.

The Environmental Investigation and Remediation Work

The EnviroForensics team was able to work with the Dygert family to develop an environmental investigation and remediation plan that respected their wishes for continued business operations, while also incorporating multiple technologies into a holistic and efficient plan. This plan involved adjusted schedules for the EnviroForensics team to avoid disrupting business operations during their business hours–and even the temporary relocation of their prized rose bushes.

As part of the environmental investigation, EnviroForensics conducted vapor intrusion sampling and completed soil and groundwater sampling for the site. EnviroForensics used both ozone sparging (OS) and soil vapor extraction (SVE) technologies to remediate soil impacts, including a soil gas plume, and groundwater contamination.

What is a SVE system?

The SVE “sparging” system shown on the graphic injects compressed air approximately 45 feet into the ground to treat groundwater and remove the soil impacts with a heavy-duty industrial vacuum system. This method of treatment effectively cleans up the soil and groundwater, reduces potential waste to landfills, and minimizes associated local concerns through indoor air. A system similar to the one in the graphic is still in operation at Mercury Cleaners as part of their ongoing operations and maintenance, and monitoring for their remediation and future site closure.

This is a graphic of a Soil Vapor Extraction system with an above ground and subsurface view of how it works.

Mercury Cleaners complete their cleanup at no cost to them

EnviroForensics was able to help Mercury Cleaners make a claim to the insurance carriers, introduce them to legal counsel, and conducted the necessary investigation and clean up activities to secure regulatory site closure. Owner Brett Dygert says, “With EnviroForensics help they were able to not only get the clean up started, but found the money to pay for it to let me stay in business.”

Mercury Cleaners and the Dygert family have not paid any out-of-pocket costs to clean up the PCE contamination.


We Find Funds. We Clean Up. You Stay Open.® Contact us today for a confidential consultation.