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Monthly Archives: April 2014

April 30th, 2014

Reminder: Air Reports Due May 1st

As a reminder, the Illinois Annual Air Emissions Report (AER) is due on May 1st each year for all facilities that have an air pollution operating permit. To learn more about the AER report, visit epa.state.il.us/air/aer/.IEPA-logo

The Title V/Clean Air Act Permit Program (CAAPP) Annual Compliance Certification is also due on May 1st for all eligible facilities.  For more information about the CAAPP program, visit epa.state.il.us/air/caapp/.

Illinois EPA has been cracking down on air violations in recent months, leading to enforcement action and penalties for several companies who have failed to obtain the proper CAAPP permits or file reports on time.  Our January/February Gabriel Gazette highlighted one Chicago area firm that was fined $50,000 for air violations including failure to obtain a CAAPP permit and failure to submit an AER.

If you need assistance in completing the Annual AER, CAAPP Annual Compliance Certification, or any CAAPP permit forms, contact our Water Department at WaterDept @gabenv.com.

April 22nd, 2014

Happy Earth Day

Earth Day banner 2014

Happy Earth Day, fellow citizens of the world!  We here at Gabriel are very committed to sustainability and are proud to have won the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award in 2011.

Did you know…

  • Gabriel has one of the largest commercial solar panel arrays in Illinois?  In 2013 we expanded to 162 photovoltaic panels, plus an additional 3 solar thermal panels.  Our total capacity is now 42,000 watts from our PV panels and 160,000 BTUs from our solar thermal system.
  • Gabriel now has three electric vehicles in our fleet – one of the first ell-electric Nissan Leafs in Illinois, a Chevy Volt, and a Ford C-Max Energi.  Our charging stations are powered by our solar panels, making these vehicles as zero-emission as possible.
  • Gabriel placed #4 in our size/organization category in last year’s Bike Commuter Challenge.  With 30% of our Chicago staff biking to work from June 8th – June 14th, 2013, we logged more than 425 miles throughout the course of the week.

For more information about Gabriel’s commitment to sustainability, visit our Environmental Commitment webpage at gabrielenviro.wpengine.com/About/Environmental-Commitment.

 

April 17th, 2014

Streeterville Developers Face Contamination Complications

Developers in the Streeterville area are learning how the past use of a property can affect today’s new developments due to lingering environmental issues. In this case, the environmental issue comes in the form of radioactive thorium.  Prolonged exposure to thorium can increase the risk of lung, pancreatic and bone cancer.

In the early 1900’s, Lindsay Light Co. manufactured lantern wicks for gas lanterns, coating them with a thorium-based solution.  Their original plant was located at 22 W. Hubbard St, and they later expanded to 316 E. Illinois St. and 161 E. Grand Ave.   The company gave away the sandy by-product of the thorium ore to be used around Streeterville as free landfill material.

Map source - Chicago Tribune April 17, 2014

Map source – Chicago Tribune, April 17, 2014

 

In the 1930’s, Lindsay Light Co. moved out to West Chicago, and the past use of the properties was forgotten for decades.  In the 1990’s, however, the EPA traced the company’s origins from West Chicago back to Streeterville after investigating radioactive contamination at the West Chicago facility and surrounding areas.  EPA now requires special permits and radiation consultants for developers working in Streeterville and the Near East Side.  All excavated dirt for new buildings, sewer repairs, or other street maintenance must be analyzed with a gamma ray detector.  If any of the dirt exceeds the EPA’s thorium limit, the soil is removed to a special radioactive waste landfill.  Developers of the Loews Hotel and various residential projects in the area have learned that this special protection means construction can take longer than expected – and cost more money too.  In the past decade, more than 50,000 cubic yards of thorium-contaminated soil have been excavated and shipped to a Utah landfill which is licensed to accept radioactive waste.

Developers in the area just got good news from the U.S. Department of Justice, who negotiated a legal settlement with Lindsay Light Co’s successor for a total of $5.1 billion for the continued cleanup of various thorium-contaminated properties across the United States.  Streeterville/Near East Side will receive $121 million for their continued cleanup efforts, and West Chicago will receive an additional $9 million.  To date, West Chicago has spent nearly $750 million cleaning up its radioactive contamination, with much of that funding also coming from earlier legal settlements with Kerr-McGee (Lindsay Light Co’s successor).

“We’re only halfway through the redevelopment of the neighborhood,” said Gail Spreen, the head of the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents. “They’ll likely find more thorium along the way.”

In addition to the thorium contamination, properties in the Streeterville area may also have contamination from other past industrial use.  The area was once heavily industrialized and a busy seaport.  Developers working in the area are learning the importance of doing their full environmental due diligence, including a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment completed by highly qualified Environmental Professionals and following the ASTM E1527-13 standard.  By knowing the site’s history and potential environmental risk prior to purchasing the property, developers can negotiate a better deal for the property and/or require clean up prior to taking title. They will also be able to factor in the additional time and expense to deal with the contaminated soil.

Caveat emptor: let the buyer beware…especially in Streeterville.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Just off Mag Mile sits city’s toxic past.” 4/17/14.

EPA Superfund information: Lindsay Light Company sites

April 11th, 2014

3 Things To Know About the New Phase I Standard

ASTM finalized E1527-13, the latest Phase I Environmental Site Assessment  standard on November 6, 2013.  EPA subsequently approved E1527-13 as being compliant with All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) regulations on December 30, 2013.
Here’s the top 3 things you need to know about these updated regulations:

VAPOR

ASTM updated the definition of a REC (Recognized Environmental Condition) to specifically include vapor as a potential concern. Previously, it was left to the Environmental Professional’s discretion or their client to determine if vapor should be considered when performing a Phase I.  Environmental Professionals (EPs) must now consider solid, liquid and vapor releases of hazardous substances or petroleum products.

Bottom Line:  You may see more RECs now that include vapor issues.

CREC

ASTM added the term CREC (Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition) to better define sites which have past releases that have been properly addressed but still have a required control (eg: commercial/industrial land use restriction, engineered barrier, etc).

Bottom Line:  If you see a CREC, don’t panic.  A CREC is a “good REC.”  Gabriel can advise you and your client about any site-specific requirements regarding the continuing obligations.

FILE REVIEWS

ASTM states that agency file reviews should be conducted if the subject property or adjoining property is identified in any of the standard environmental records sources.  Previously, some EPs would review these government records during their Phase I assessments but many would not.  Now, these reviews must be included unless records are not reasonably ascertainable.

Bottom Line:  Other firms might increase their prices to include this additional work.  Gabriel has always done file reviews for these types of sites, so you will not see an increase in our prices to add in the file review.