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Gabriel Environment Blog

May 23rd, 2018

Gabriel will be closed for Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day, Gabriel will be closed on Monday, May 28, 2018.

 

May 16th, 2018

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Spotlight: Soil Conditions

Vent stack and fill port for a former fuel oil tank where the building has been converted to natural gas for its heat.

During the course of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ASTM E1527-13), Gabriel attempts to document soil conditions through visual observations, regulatory database review, and historic document review.

Visual observations may include:

  • Above-ground storage tanks
  • Evidence of underground storage tanks (eg: vent stacks or fill ports)
  • Drums
  • Staining or corrosion
  • Stressed vegetation
  • Pools of liquid
  • Hazardous materials
  • Wells
  • Septic systems or cesspools
  • Geological/topographical observations

Regulatory database and historic document review may include:

  • Underground Storage Tank (UST) installation or removal records
  • Leaking USTs
  • Past uses of property
  • Records of hazardous materials usage and/or violations
  • Environmental remediation/clean up
  • Fire insurance maps

If a Recognized Environmental Condition (REC) impacting the site’s soil is discovered either through visual observation or a review of regulatory databases or historic documents during a Phase I, Gabriel may recommend soil borings to investigate if there is analytical data showing hazardous substances or petroleum products in, on, or at the property.

Contact Natalie Neuman, Group Leader Assessment Services, at nneuman[at]gabenv.com or 773-486-2123 with any questions about how Gabriel assesses soil conditions during a Phase I.

April 19th, 2018

OSHA Increases Fines for Silica Violations

Effective January 2, 2018, Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) increased its daily fines for silica violations to $12,934.  Willful or repeated violations will now pay a $129,336 penalty.

OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for construction sites requires employers to limit exposure and take other steps to protect workers.

Breathing in very small (“respirable”) crystalline silica particles causes multiple diseases, including silicosis, an incurable lung disease that leads to disability and death. Respirable crystalline silica also causes lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease.

All construction employers covered by the standard are required to:

  • Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers, including procedures to restrict access to work areas where high exposures may occur.
  • Designate a competent person to implement the written exposure control plan.
  • Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica where feasible alternatives are available.
  • Offer medical exams-including chest X-rays and lung function tests-every three years for workers who are required by the standard to wear a respirator for 30 or more days per year.
  • Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure.
  • Keep records of exposure measurements, objective data, and medical exams.

OSHA has released several Fact Sheets for how construction companies can limit exposure to silica dust depending on what equipment is being used (eg: handheld power saws, vehicle-mounted drilling rigs, heavy equipment and utility vehicles used during demolition activities, etc).

Gabriel can assist companies in creating a written exposure control plan, as well as perform silica dust testing and reporting.  Contact Bill Gray, Senior Vice President, at bgray{at}gabenv.com with any questions or for a proposal.

More information about the changes can be found on the OSHA website.

April 4th, 2018

Annual Emissions Reports (AERs) Due May 1st

All facilities that have, or are required to have, a State of Illinois air pollution operating permit are required to file an Annual Emissions Report (AER) by May 1st each year.

These reports include data about the previous calendar year’s emissions for regulated pollutants.

IEPA emailed forms to each applicable facility in January, but did not physically mail any forms this year. Failure to receive the AER forms from IEPA does not relieve facilities of their obligation to file a timely report. If your facility did not yet receive your forms, contact buzz.asselmeier@illinois.gov.

IEPA has been cracking down on air violations, assessing over $1 million in penalties to companies throughout the state in 2017.  More than $300,000 of that total was assessed for air permitting violations.

If you need assistance completing your facility’s AER report, contact Gabriel’s Consulting Department at 773-486-2123 or water{at}gabenv.com.

March 1st, 2018

Chicago’s Water & Sewer Tax More Than Doubles for 2018

Chicago’s new water and sewer tax has increased from $0.59/1000 gallons to $1.28/1000 gallons effective January 1, 2018. This tax is assessed in addition to the water/sewer rates and was enacted to help pay for part of Chicago’s pension debt.

For facilities which use a lot of water, this increased tax will impact their 2018 budget. Enacting water conservation strategies may be helpful, especially as these water-sewer taxes will continue to rise to $2.01/1000 gallons in 2019 and $2.51/1000 gallons in 2020.

Contact Gabriel’s Water Department at water{at}gabenv.com or 773-486-2123 to discuss if a water saving audit may be beneficial to your facility.

January 17th, 2018

New SBA Environmental Regulations in Effect

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has updated its environmental requirements for the 7(a) and 504 loan programs effective January 1, 2018.  SBA’s SOP 20 10 5 (J) includes a tiered approach for its environmental review process, depending on the use of the site and loan amount.

Most of these requirements are familiar to those who have been involved with SBA lending the last several years, but there are a few changes to note:

  • SBA now specifies that the ‘Records Search with Risk Assessment’ (RSRA) must include historical records back to the property’s first developed use, or back to 1940, whichever is earlier. Previously, SBA did not specify a year for its historic research requirements but left it up to the Environmental Professional’s discretion.  In addition, this RSRA must include all supporting documentation.
  • All dry cleaners currently in operation at the site require a Phase II Environmental Site Investigation.  Previously, the Phase II was only mandatory if a dry cleaner had been in operation at the property at least 5 years.
  • SBA specifies that vapor intrusion must now be addressed for dry cleaners, in additional to soil and groundwater contamination.
  • Environmental Professionals must review tank and equipment testing compliance documentation for all gas stations and include this documentation in the Phase I ESA appendices.
  • SBA added new NAICS codes to its list of “environmentally sensitive industries.”

Gabriel is pleased to be a trusted partner for SBA lenders.  Our environmental reports will meet all new requirements in January 2018.  If you have any questions about our SBA-compliant reports, contact Natalie Neuman, Group Leader Assessment Services, at nneuman[at]gabenv.com or 773-486-2123.

December 21st, 2017

Gabriel’s Holiday Hours

Gabriel will be closed on Monday, December 25th and Monday, January 1st.

We look forward to working with you again in 2018!

Happy holidays to all!

November 22nd, 2017

Gabriel is closed for Thanksgiving

Gabriel is closed Thursday, November 23rd and Friday, November 24th for the Thanksgiving holiday.

We wish you all happy Thanksgiving!

November 10th, 2017

Snow comes early to Chicago this year

A bit too early in the season for some of us at Gabriel’s headquarters, but it’s definitely snowing in Chicago today:

October 19th, 2017

Tour of MWRD’s McCook Reservoir

Gabriel was excited to tour the almost-ready-to-be-opened McCook Reservoir, near MWRD’s Mainstream Pumping Station.  When this reservoir goes online around Thanksgiving, it will hold 3.5 billion gallons of stormwater to help prevent flooding, improve water quality in Chicago area waterways, and protect Lake Michigan from pollution.  Phase II of the McCook reservoir isn’t scheduled to be completed for another 10-12 years, but it will eventually add another 6.5 billion gallons of capacity.

 

MWRD’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) has been process since the initial tunnel construction started in 1975.  The four TARP tunnel systems are designed to flow to three huge reservoirs, and the system will have a total capacity of 20.55 billion gallons when complete. The stored water is then pumped from the reservoirs to water reclamation plants to be cleaned before being released to waterways.

Learn more about how TARP works on the MWRD website.

 

Stage 1 of McCook Reservoir: the white masts are 150 feet high and will hold aerators to reduce odors

The blocks on the floor of the reservoir will help prevent erosion from the inflow of stormwater

This ramp will stay in place once the reservoir goes online so MWRD can do routine maintenance and cleaning of the reservoir floor. The walls are all surrounded by a ‘grout curtain’ to keep stormwater in and groundwater out.

Stage 2 of McCook Reservoir – still being mined for dolomite limestone.

Stage 2 of McCook Reservoir – some of the mining equipment ready to work.

MWRD’s photo booth

MWRD’s photo booth

MWRD’s photo booth

 

MWRD’s photo booth

 

MWRD’s photo booth