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Remediation: Not As Scary As It Seems

Environmental remediation, or a Phase III Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), is a potential sink for time and money at project sites. Fortunately, steps can be taken to ease the process of remediating contamination while keeping project timelines and budgets on track. Phase III ESAs take place if, after an initial Phase I ESA assessment and Phase II subsurface ESA, a property is found to have contaminant issues requiring action in accordance with the state’s regulatory agency. This report can leave project teams with more questions than answers. In order to avoid the headache of a series of costly environmental remediation strategies, teams can simplify the process by adhering to a few simple tips, such as getting in touch with the property site’s state regulatory agency.

State environmental regulations are not fully consistent from state to state. Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency, for example, may have different requirements for environmental remediation than the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and both may diverge from the standards set by New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection. State regulations may include not only environmental baselines for properties but also instructions for who must submit Phase III ESA reports and the timeframe within which contamination must be reported.

States may also have additional requirements for engaging in remediation activities throughout the entirety of both the initial investigation and post-investigative remediation. Property owners should also contact their attorney to verify liability. Owners should also be in touch with insurance funds or assistance programs to consult on proper remediation steps to ensure regulatory compliance and possible opportunities for funding. Other resources, like the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council, offer numerous resources for helping guide remediation processes through looking at the ‘big picture.’

Alongside these tips for hassle-free environmental remediation operations, a general outline for action can be followed to further streamline this process:

  1. Develop a conceptual model of contamination through plume delineation and determination of both horizontal and vertical extents of impacts
  2. Identify goals/site conditions to screen
  3. Identify geological and evaluation factors, data requirements, and necessary technology
  4. Establish goals, metrics, and implement remediation
  5. Consistently monitor and assess remediation performance
  6. Demonstrate achieved goals to obtain regulatory closure

This series of steps will allow for an optimal and less intimidating environmental remediation process from start to finish with the bonus of efficient financial and time management!

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