The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Voluntary Remediation Program encourages hazardous substance cleanups that might not otherwise take place. The program allows site owners or operators to voluntarily address contamination sites with oversight and approval from DEQ. The main goals are site redevelopment and protection of human health and the environment.
The program provides regulatory oversight and facilitates the sale and/or reuse of industrial and commercial properties in the Commonwealth, which benefits all Virginians. Participation decreases potential environmental liabilities of reusing or further developing existing commercial properties.
When remediation is properly completed, DEQ issues a transferable Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of Remediation.
How ONE Can Navigate What Can be a Cumbersome Process
Some property owners or developers may have a limited understanding of regulatory requirements for redevelopment projects or a lack of understanding of how to successful navigate the Voluntary Remediation Program. Fortunately, ONE Environmental Principal Jeff Duncan is among the team members with thorough expertise of the Voluntary Remediation Program, and his established history of collaborative relationships with the state’s regulatory agencies can prevent speed bumps from becoming roadblocks. His valuable experience can streamline what can be a staggeringly slow process for someone unfamiliar with the program’s precise requirements and guidelines. Most recently, his efforts for a Virginia Beach project earned the client a Satisfactory Completion Remediation Certificate in less than a year after contracting ONE.
In that case, a developer opted to complete DEQ’s Voluntary Remediation Program because a historic use of the property included an on-site dry-cleaning business. Dry cleaning operations raise a concern for potential contamination. While cleaning agents can be more eco-friendly today, chlorinated and petroleum-based solvents are often associated with dry cleaning and can linger in the environment for decades.
“One of those is Perchloroethylene or perc,” Duncan said. “These contaminants easily spread in the environment. Even spills that occur on concrete or asphalt will seep right through and enter the subsurface environment. It can migrate into soil and groundwater. Once in the soil and groundwater, it can migrate, and vapors can impact indoor air in structures.”
Initial assessments for the property dated back almost 15 years. Multiple studies had been completed in that time for the former strip mall site that had since become dilapidated. ONE was engaged to streamline the project to completion.
Instead of spending additional time and monies on extensive site assessment, the focus was on risk assessment. Duncan relied on existing data sets and used his skills with the Virginia Unified Risk Assessment Model (VURAM) to set relevant remediation goals for the site.
ONE conducted a soil gas survey to ensure safety of nearby enclosed buildings and updated Risk and Remediation assessments. No additional studies were required as Duncan was able to move the project to completion by placing land use restrictions, ensuring health and safety measures, and groundwater prohibitions.
“The main remediation effort was to limit exposure,” Duncan said. “If you eliminate exposure, you limit risk.” Ultimately there was no excavation or treatment of soil and groundwater required.
The solution-based approach and streamlined effort “exemplify ONE’s relationship with the regulators,” Duncan said. “We have a great understanding of the program itself, and that, in turn, benefits the client.”
The certificate is transferrable and a valuable asset to a potential purchaser or a tenant. “The DEQ will transfer it to a new buyer as long as the buyer abides by the specified restrictions,” Duncan said.
Thanks to ONE’s efforts, the client can now secure tenants who may have been risk-averse. Any potential tenant can rest assured that the site is DEQ-approved.
ONE can help a wide range of clients address issues related to Voluntary Remediation Programs and other complex environmental, health and safety concerns.