Category Archive: Industry News

Firefighting foam remains on the ground surface following a tanker truck accident.

Not so PFAS: Emerging Contaminants Increasingly a Factor in Due Diligence

A class of emerging containments known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, has been getting an increasing amount of attention at all levels of government and the media lately. These human-made substances are described as “forever chemicals” given the way they can linger in the environment for decades without breaking down.

Unfortunately, they can also persist in the human body for long periods of time and are linked to several types of cancer, infertility, thyroid problems and other ailments. In June of 2022, the U.S. EPA issued guidance indicating that PFAS chemicals pose a greater health threat than originally thought.

Chemical companies have been using PFAS compounds to create a variety of products including nonstick cookware, cosmetics, moisture-repellent fabrics and fire-fighting foam. As reported by local media, PFAS was in the foam that was used to suppress the fire on the doomed Spirit of Norfolk harbor cruise ship near ONE Environmental’s Tidewater, Virginia location.

Until recently, PFAS was not necessarily a material issue for those performing due diligence during property transactions. Things began to change in late 2021, when the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) issued a new Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) standard that included guidance on considering PFAS in completing an ESA. The new standard, ASTM E1527-21, officially took effect on January 1, 2022.

In March of 2022, the EPA published a direct final rule to incorporate ASTM E1527-21 into “all appropriate inquiries” (AAI) procedures. However, the EPA did not change reference to the previous standard, ASTM E1527-13, nor did it amend AAI regulation. This means that for now, a commercial property stakeholder can follow either standard depending on their tolerance for risk, past property use, and other factors.

For example, buyers of property where there is low likelihood of historical PFAS use may be willing to assume more risk and follow the faster, less costly ASTM E1527-13 standard. Risk-averse purchasers, especially at properties where PFAS was potentially used at the property, may choose to follow the ASTM E1527-21 standard.

The rules can be confusing, since technically, the inclusion of PFAS in in ASTM E1527-21 is not quite a requirement yet. But the writing is on the wall, and prudent stakeholders would do well to start considering PFAS in their due diligence practices immediately.

ONE Environmental has vast expertise in due diligence processes, supporting clients all over the United States. Our team stands ready to help stakeholders navigate the complexity of the various standards and make the best possible decisions for their requirements.

An old disused factory, abandoned and in ruins, with a smashed roof and a chimney. Tall weeds invade the building. Concept of economic bankruptcy. Cloudy sky. Italy, Foligno, Umbria.

What Can Brownfields Do For You?

At the most basic level, brownfields are idle tracts of land that are either contaminated or believed to be contaminated. Abandoned factories, gas stations, dry cleaners and railyards are just a few examples of the nearly half a million brownfield sites in the U.S. currently.

Expansion or redevelopment of a brownfield may be challenging because of the real or perceived presence of hazardous substances, pollutants or other contaminations. These sites, despite often being in prime locations, may sit dormant for years as the barriers and costs related to cleanup may exceed the redeveloped site’s value.

However, there are many advantages to cleaning up and reinvesting in brownfield sites. In addition to boosting the local tax base and facilitating job growth, redeveloping a brownfield site utilizes existing infrastructure and takes the development pressure off undeveloped land.

The good news is that many state governments are actively encouraging remediation and restoration of brownfields by removing barriers and offering incentives and assistance whenever possible.

For example, the Commonwealth of Virginia implements a brownfield restoration and land renewal policy though programs administered through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and other agencies.

This includes the Virginia Brownfields Restoration and Economic Redevelopment Assistance Fund (VBAF) established by Virginia code to provide grants or loans that promote the restoration and redevelopment of brownfield sites and address environmental obstacles to reuse.

Grants are available to localities and authorities for site assessment and planning (up to $50,000 as of 2022), as well as remediation (up to $500,000).

Brownfield programs can also include liability relief and tax incentives.

For example, in Georgia, the state’s Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfield Revitalization Act (Georgia Brownfield’s Program) allows for the redevelopment or use of contaminated properties while protecting the buyer from future liability related to previous contamination. Eligible parcels classified as brownfield property are also assessed at 40% of fair market value for ten years, creating significant property tax savings.

In North Carolina, a brownfield landowner is entitled to the partial exclusion for the first five taxable years after qualifying improvements have been completed.

How ONE Can Help

Skilled environmental service providers like ONE Environmental stand ready to help localities more quickly and easily take advantage of funding opportunities, liability relief and tax incentives related to brownfields.

For example, the ONE team helped the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia win EPA assessment grants worth a total of $400,000. The ONE team won the competitive bid to assist them with management and performance of the assessment grants. The Fredericksburg Brownfields Program has been responsible for assessing over 46 acres of property.

ONE used grant funding to complete Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) on many sites, reviewing historical documents and regulatory databases about former site use. Additional assessment was performed at the sites, such as asbestos-containing material inspections, limited Phase II ESAs including ground penetrating radar studies and soil and groundwater sampling, and delineation sampling to determine the extent of contamination.

The Fredericksburg Brownfields Program has been responsible for assessing over 46 acres of property, leading to a planned redevelopment for a mixed-use property and a second property planned for reuse as a multi-family residential property.

There are many brownfields redevelopment success stories but navigating state codes and the details of each program can be daunting. Localities, prospective land buyers and other stakeholders would do well to engage experienced environmental service providers like ONE Environmental for assistance.

Avoiding Trouble with TRI Reporting

Industrial facility operators are subject to a myriad of reporting requirements from state and federal government related to toxic and hazardous chemicals.

One of those important requirements is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program, which was created to be a resource to provide communities with information about toxic chemical releases and pollution prevention activities reported by industrial and federal facilities.

The TRI is a key component of the Emergency Preparedness and Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) which was signed into law in 1986 following several deadly industrial disasters involving chemical releases. These days, tens of thousands of companies file TRI reports for more than 600 different chemicals each year.

Is Your Facility Subject to TRI Reporting?

Generally, any facility that manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses toxic chemicals specified under EPCRA Section 313 must submit a TRI report to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) each year by July 1.

There are four criteria that determine if a facility must report:

  • It is located in a “covered sector” defined by NAICS codes.
  • It employs 10 or more people full-time.
  • It works with a chemical listed on the toxics release inventory.
  • The TRI-listed chemical exceeds its threshold in a given year.

When an industrial facility meets all four criteria, it is subject to TRI reporting, which is some of the most time-consuming annual reporting that a facility will undertake.

Among other challenges, the roster of TRI-listed chemicals can change from one year to the next. That list currently includes more than 700 individual chemicals in 30 different categories.

Terminology can also be tricky. TRI reporting may be referred to as EPCRA Section 313 reporting, SARA Section 313 reporting, Form R reporting, or Form A reporting.

ONE Environmental Can Help

ONE Environmental has significant experiencing helping industrial operator clients wade through the complexity and comply with TRI reporting requirements. This includes analyzing the client’s facility to accurately determine whether a TRI report filing is required and verifying the exact federal and state environmental requirements that apply to the client’s locations.

The ONE team can also prepare and file TRI reports on a client’s behalf, thus reducing the risk of errors or omissions that can lead to penalties.

Visit the Services page on the ONE Environmental website to learn more about TRI and other types of reporting and compliance offerings that can save time and deliver peace of mind.

Nuclear radiation symbol painted on wall

Radiation Services: Addressing the Invisible Hazard Around Us

Radioactive material is fairly common in nature, and it is usually harmless in that state. In fact, Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) exist all around us at harmless doses. However, when NORM becomes concentrated due to human activity, it is called Technologically Enhanced NORM (TENORM), and it is often subject to government regulations.

For example, most all earth moving, mining, and drilling activities involve NORM and the build-up of this material creates TENORM. Many other industries and processes are affected by TENROM as well, such as pulp and paper, phosphate fertilizer production, coal combustion, water and sewage treatment, and the medical industry. It is likely that more industries will be impacted by radiation regulations in the future.

Facilities must be safe and comply with myriad radiation regulations, standards, and practices. This can be a challenging and extremely complicated undertaking. Radiation sources must be monitored and handled properly, something that is best left up to experts.

The ONE Environmental team provides a variety of radiation safety, assessment, monitoring, and compliance services in accordance with NRC, OSHA, EPA, DOT, and applicable state regulations.

ONE Environmental has vast experience providing radiation management services. These include comprehensive radiation survey programs and monitoring and the disposal of construction materials, such as the fire brick used in furnaces and certain types of ceramics, to ensure site compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations while helping to protect workers and the environment.

ONE also provides nuclear gauge services, including required leak tests, shutter tests, and inventory audits for compliance and reporting purposes. The ONE team can facilitate maintenance and service on variety of gauge models, ensuring they meet operational and safety requirements.

For organizations required to monitor their employees’ exposure to radiation, ONE can help establish and implement dosimetry monitoring programs. ONE can also conduct equipment and personnel contamination surveys.

Phase I Environmental Assessments are also part of ONE’s radiation services portfolio, helping organizations confidently evaluate the environmental risk or liability associated with a real estate transaction to avoid costly mistakes.

By offering radiation services backed by years of experience and best practices, ONE Environmental is able to help clients minimize costs, maintain compliance, and maximize safety – bringing peace of mind during increasingly challenging regulatory climates.

top view worker installing a solar cell on the factory roof.

Providing The Strategic Insight And Regulatory Expertise To Move Your Next Solar Construction Project Forward

ONE Environmental Group’s experience in environmental permitting and regulatory compliance can ensure companies that their next renewable energy project comes off without a hitch. Our team’s track record of established professional relationships at the federal, state, and local levels paves the path for efficient permitting required to jumpstart solar construction.

Solar construction sites require routine consulting, inspection, and maintenance, a process ONE can streamline.

While larger industries are often familiar with the permitting requirements necessary for new solar construction, smaller firms might not be. No matter the size of the company, ONE can navigate the permitting process to ensure everything is in place for construction to begin on time.

“Solar construction sites require a lot of permitting,” said ONE Environmental Consultant Jamison Clarke. “One service we provide is regulatory consultation to help the client along in the permit application process. Any permit negotiations or modifications that have to be made, whether it is with the local, state, or federal government, are areas we have expertise in.”

Permitting and plan services provided by ONE include:

  • Erosion and Sediment Control Plan
  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)
  • Spill Prevention Control, Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan
  • Environmental Protection Plan
  • Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)
  • Health and Safety Program
  • Pre-Demolition: Well Abandonment, Asbestos/Lead Paint Inspection

Solar sites under construction require an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan and a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan to be in place. Most sites under development have oil containers on site and require a Spill Prevention Control, Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan.

“ONE boasts several DEQ-certified and NCDOT-certified ESC Inspectors that provide third party Erosion and Sediment Control Audits to ensure compliance with applicable regulations,” Clarke said. “Our team handles erosion and sediment control audits, making sure best management practices are being followed and working properly. We ensure there’s not a risk to resources or any other potential compliance issues that can lead to a setback.” If any deficiencies are observed, ONE can also provide field personnel to complete BMP maintenance and repairs.

In addition to inspections, ONE reviews Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans and Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Plan to ensure that all required documentation is up to date and in compliance.

“We are a second set of eyes,” Clarke said. “Often plans need to be revised and updated, and we make sure that none of these items is overlooked.”

ONE oversees and completes monthly inspections of oil tanks and containers required by 40 CFR  112.7 and can also assist with state requirements, such as Aboveground Storage Tank registrations or Oil Discharge Contingency Plans.

ONE also offers a plethora of additional services, including GIS mapping and drone flyovers/inspections and will work with clients to meet any additional needs that they may have.

ONE can address all the environmental services required for solar construction sites and handle a full range of other complex environmental and health and safety compliance issues that go hand-in-hand with sustainability.

Waste processing plant. Technological process plastic bottles at the factory for processing and recycling. The worker recycling factory,engineers is out of focus or blurred.

Wasteful Thinking: How a Skilled Service Provider Can Demystify the RCRA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has authority to control hazardous and other wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Enacted in 1976, the RCRA establishes a national system for how hazardous and non-hazardous waste is handled, transported, recycled and finally disposed.

Operators may hear the RCRA acronym used in reference to multiple things, from the statutes and amendments themselves to related regulations, as well as EPA guidance and policy. Since EPA regulations are explicit and legally enforceable, the RCRA means serious business.

​Unfortunately, the RCRA program is constantly evolving as new waste generation and management considerations arise. Understanding and complying with shifting RCRA regulations can be a challenge for even the most sophisticated organization.

The ONE Environmental team has significant experience providing businesses RCRA support through a full range of services.

For example, our auditing and gap analysis services include on-site compliance inspections that accurately identify all waste streams and provide recommendations for how they should be managed. Waste determination is an important part of ONE’s service offering as well, helping operators navigate an alphabet soup of waste classification subtitles. 

Waste generation threshold tracking and biennial reporting are also key components of ONE’s RCRA service portfolio. An operator’s status is based on the amount of waste generated, and once an operator reaches the threshold of a large quantity generator (LQG) even temporarily, it is subject to the rigorous National Biennial RCRA Hazardous Waste Report requirement. The ONE team knows the requirements inside and out.

The ONE team can also plan and implement RCRA training for teams internally, as well as assist with regulatory negotiations and communications externally, giving operators peace of mind that a trusted advisor has their back.

Since RCRA is a “cradle-to-grave” program, the ONE team site provides a range of investigation, remediation, decontamination and facility closure services. These include RCRA corrective action, RCRA closure and post-closure care services.

The bottom line is that the ONE team can help operators gain a full understanding of all of the RCRA regulations relevant to their business and implement a robust plan for staying compliant.

Visit our Services page for more details on how the ONE team can ease the RCRA burden and much more.