Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has launched a new incident reporting tool on their website. This portal will collect reports of odors, stream blockages and other environmental-related issues.
“This new tool will allow residents to notify us of environmental issues countywide,” said Commissioner Kari Steele, chairman of the Committee on Information Technology. “We understand unpleasant environmental occurrences are inconvenient and disruptive, but by completing the new online report, our staff will be able to work to address them.
MWRD is also in the process of creating a incident report application for smartphones. A pollution control officer attempts to investigate each report within five business days, though some cases may be open longer due to the nature of the event and/or involvement of other agencies.
Effective July 17th, 2014, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has closed the comment period for its proposed rule amending the All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) regulations. This proposed change would remove reference to the older Phase I Environmental Site Assessment ASTM standard (E1527-05) and confirm that Phase I assessments should be completed to the current ASTM standard (E1527-13). EPA believes this change would promote the use of the current standard and reduce any confusion by having two standards in the regulatory reference documents.
EPA confirms that any Phase I’s conducted between November 1, 2005 and the date of the proposed rule implementation that were conducted to the ASTM E1527-05 standard would comply with the All Appropriate Inquiries regulations.
Only five comments were submitted during the comment period, with four in favor of the rule change for clarification purposes. The one negative comment urged the EPA to continue allowing the use of 1527-05 in order to avoid the investigation of vapor as a pathway of concern.
EPA is reviewing the comments and will issue their final rule shortly. Implementation of this amendment is expected to occur one year after the final rule is published in the Federal Register.
For further information about this proposed change, visit the EPA’s Proposed Rule webpage.
When it comes time to check off the “environmental site assessment” on the due diligence check list, some clients ask us about the cheapest and quickest option we offer. At times these Limited Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) are appropriate and can save our clients money during the closing process. Other times, however, opting for a limited assessment can leave out important information that our clients should know before taking title to a property.
Our Phase 1/2 Limited ESA includes a site visit and very limited historical research. Our Environmental Professionals will look for any visual indications of Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) such as an underground storage tank or Business Environmental Risks such as asbestos, lead paint and mold. A limited ESA does not include a regulatory database search nor a full historical review.
We offer a Phase 1/2 instead of a Transaction Screen (TS) since we feel that the TS does not provide our clients with the information they are most interested in for these smaller properties, including key issues such as asbestos, lead paint and USTs. Additionally, our Phase 1/2 report puts the pertinent information in a more user-friendly narrative than the TS checklist.
As a general rule of thumb, these Phase 1/2’s are best used for small residential properties or small commercial sites in a light commercial area. Properties in dense commercial or industrial areas are much more likely to have had some historical use which should be investigated as part of the due diligence process. Larger residential properties are also at a higher risk for environmental concerns since many of them formerly had heating oil tanks or are located in commercial areas.
Below are a few examples of why a full Phase I would be useful to our clients instead of the more limited Phase 1/2:
- A review of fire insurance maps show that the adjacent property was formerly a dry cleaner. It is now redeveloped as a restaurant so no visual signs remain. Without this full historical review, our client would not have known that their site is potentially contaminated by this adjacent site.
- A review of village building permits shows that there was a heating oil tank installed on our client’s property in the 1950’s. There are no visual indications of the tank on the property, but there are also no permits for its removal. Without this full historical review, our client would not have know that there may still be an underground storage tank on their site.
- A review of the regulatory database search shows that the neighboring property is enrolled in the Site Remediation Program (SRP) through the Illinois EPA but has not yet received a No Further Remedation (NFR) Letter. A further review of the FOIA files from IEPA show that this site is heavily contaminated due to its former use as a printer. Without this regulatory and governmental agency file review, our client would not have known that their site may be impacted by this neighboring contamination.
A Limited ESA is best suited for properties such as a 6-flat surrounded by other residential properties or a small storefront in a light commercial or residential area.
If you have questions about when a Limited ESA is appropriate or concerns about a specific site, contact Natalie Neuman, Group Leader Assessment Services, at nneuman[at]gabenv.com or 773-486-2123.
Illinois is considering changes to its Class K (Industrial) Wastewater Operator Certification, including requirement of Continuing Education Units (CEUs), additional fees, and changes to the exam.
CEUs: Illinois is one of the few states that does not require continuing education of its operators. Illinois EPA’s Wastewater Board has proposed requiring certified operators to keep up to date on new technologies by instituting CEU requirements similar to those required for public water supply operators.
Fees: Legislation would be required to allow IEPA to collect fees for applications, testing renewals, etc. There are currently no fees associated with the wastewater operator certification program. IEPA is in the early stages of determining if a fee schedule is appropriate.
Exam changes: IEPA is considering five different exams, in various levels of operational complexity. Currently the Class K exams are facility-specific. Updating the exams would allow faster grading (since questions could be multiple choice instead of written) and allow certified individuals to remain certified at a new facility without taking an additional exam.
Gabriel will continue to stay informed of these potential changes to the Class K regulations and will publish any important updates that may impact our clients.
For more information about the Class K training that Gabriel offers, visit our Class K webpage or contact Brigid McHale at bmchale [at] gabenv.com.
Information on the proposed Class K changes courtesy of Illinois Manufacturer’s Association
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is offering rain barrels to any homeowner in its service area. For only $58, MWRD residents can receive a 55-gallon barrel, installation kit and home delivery. Up to two barrels per household may be ordered.
Rain barrels are repurposed plastic barrels designed to collect rainwater from rooftops via a disconnected downspout for reuse. The rain barrel program is a part of the MWRD’s green infrastructure initiative and supports our mission of managing stormwater and reducing water pollution.
For more information about MWRD’s discounted offer, visit their rain barrel website.