Monthly Archives: May 2015

May 19th, 2015

It’s TACO Tuesday!

All cleanup programs in the state of Illinois are based on TACO limits, but not everyone knows exactly what TACO IEPA-logomeans – or why it makes cleaning up your property easier.

TACO is an acronym for “Tiered Approach to Corrective Action Objectives.”  Prior to the implementation of TACO standards in the mid-1990s, the Illinois EPA (IEPA) took a “one size fits all” approach to cleaning up contaminated properties.  All sites, regardless of their location, use, contaminants, etc., had to be cleaned up to the same standards.

This regulatory climate changed as cleanup programs across the U.S. continued to mature.  Environmental agencies realized that cleaning up an industrial property that was only going to be used for a parking lot was a lot different than cleaning up a former gas station to become apartments.  Remediation objectives became risk-based and site-specific.

Today, TACO takes into account three main components to determine environmental risk:

  1. Contaminant(s) – ie: chemicals
  2. Exposure route(s) – eg: air, drinking water, etc.
  3. Receptor(s) – eg: people, plants, or animals

Through both the Site Remediation Program (SRP) and Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) program, environmental consultants such as Gabriel conduct a site investigation consisting of soil, groundwater and/or vapor testing.  Once these results are analyzed for each of the above components, the environmental consultant can work with the IEPA project managers to determine the best way to clean up the property.  The three most common risk management tools are:

  1. Active remediation – eg: contaminated soil removal; bioremediation; chemical remediation; etc.
  2. Engineered barriers – eg: asphalt parking lot, concrete floor, building control technologies (BCTs), etc.
  3. Institutional controls – eg: drinking water restriction, commercial/industrial use restriction, etc.

Once a property owner has satisfied the applicable program requirements and documented that the contaminants had either been reduced below TACO standards or controlled through engineered barriers or institutional controls, the IEPA will issue a No Further Remediation (NFR) Letter.

These TACO standards mean that you’ll often be able to clean up your property with less expense and hassle, which promotes progressive reuse of contaminated property.

If you have more questions about how the TACO regulations work, contact John Polich, P.E. at jpolich[at]gabenv.com or 773-486-2123.

May 15th, 2015

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Spotlight: Aerial Photographs

During the course of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, Gabriel reviews aerial photographs showing the site and surrounding area.  Depending on its location, aerial photographs can be available as far back as ~1930, with updates every 5-15 years.

These aerial photos can help us determine when the property was first developed, as well as any changes in the property use, building size, and surrounding area development.  Key items that can be seen on aerial photographs include:

  • Historical gas station
  • Aboveground storage tanks
  • Past use as farmland
  • Building additions
  • Illegal dumping
  • Presence of wetlands
  • Drum storage
  • Location of roads or railroad tracks/spurs
  • Quarries
  • Vegetation

Case Study

Gabriel was conducting a Phase I at a suburban location in the Chicagoland area.  While reviewing the aerial photos, we found that the site was undeveloped in 1949; by 1970 had been developed into a gas station; and by 1990 had been redeveloped into its current use as a strip mall.  This 1970 aerial photo was the key historical documentation which showed there may be petroleum products still present at this site, especially since no other documentation existed of UST removal or soil sampling.

1949 Aerial Photo - shows vacant land

1949 Aerial Photo – shows vacant land

aerial photo 1970 - cropped

1970 Aerial Photo – shows site developed as a gas station

aerial photo 1990 - cropped

1990 Aerial Photo – shows site redeveloped as a strip mall

If you have questions about how Gabriel uses aerial photos in our Phase I research, contact Natalie Neuman, Group Leader Assessment Services, at 773-486-2123 or nneuman[at]gabenv.com.

May 7th, 2015

UST Fund Available to New Property Owners

Prior to 2006, any individual, partnership or corporation who bought a property in Illinois with an existing Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Incident would not be eligible to access the UST Fund to complete the clean-up of the site.  Only the original owner/operator of the tanks and Incident were eligible.

Effective January 1, 2006, however, Illinois EPA amended its rules to allow new property owners this same access to the UST Fund.  This rule change was intended to encourage redevelopment of brounderground storage tankwnfields and other potentially contaminated sites.

UST Fund

The State of Illinois maintains a UST Fund to help investigate and clean up eligible leaking tanks through the Illinois EPA’s LUST Program.  Tank owners finance this UST Fund with a $0.003 per-gallon motor fuel tax and an $0.008 per-gallon environmental impact fee.  Since its inception in 1989, this UST Fund has reimbursed tank owners more than $800 million in site investigation and clean-up costs.

Tank owners are assessed a deductible for each Incident ($5,000 / $10,000 / $15,000 / $50,000 / $100,000), depending on the date of tank registration and date of LUST Incident.  Most site investigation and clean-up costs above that amount should be eligible for reimbursement from the UST Fund if activities are conducted in accordance with plans and budgets approved by the Illinois EPA.

If you have questions about how to transfer UST Fund eligibility to a new owner, contact Nancy Valenta at 773-486-2123 or nvalenta[at]gabenv.com.

More information about this new owner eligibility can be found on the IEPA’s Public Act 94-0274 webpage.

More information about how Gabriel can help you with LUST closure can be found on our LUST Services webpage.

May 4th, 2015

Gabriel is considering launching a webinar series. We need your feedback.

webinar clipartDue to the popularity of our ongoing seminar series, Gabriel is considering launching a webinar series on various environmental issues.  We understand that not everyone can easily join us in person at our Chicago headquarters.

Would you be interested in attending free webinars hosted by Gabriel?  We welcome your opinions in the quick 7 question survey below:


Thank you for your feedback. We will keep you posted on topics and dates for upcoming webinars, depending on results of the survey.

Survey will close May 8th, 2015.

May 1st, 2015

Celebrate Chicago River Day on May 9th

Chicago River Day is next Saturday, May 9th.  Not only will Chicagoans have the opportunity to help clean up various locations along the Chicago River and Little Calumet River, but Friends of the Chicago River & Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) are also hosting a big celebration to promote its Great Rivers Chicago initiative.

chicago river day volunteers

Volunteering:  Dozens of locations along the Chicago River are hosting volunteers from 9am – 12:00 noon.  Volunteer activities vary from site to site. Volunteer projects on Chicago River Day include trash collection, sorting trash for recycling, removing invasive vegetation, sprucing up river-edge trails, planting native seedlings and more.

Most volunteer sites are suited for ages 8 and above, though a few family-friendly sites are available.

Registrations and information about the available sites can be found on the Chicago River Day website.


Celebrating:  From 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm, volunteers and other supporters of the Chicago River can enjoy a free party on the Cherry Avenue Railroad Bridge (connecting North Avenue and Goose Island).  The event is open to the public and will feature music by Windy City Soul Club, family-friendly activities including fishing lessons from the Chicago Park District, free demos from Kayak Chicago, beer from our friends at Goose Island Beer Company, and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks from Chicago food trucks.

MPC and Friends of the Chicago River staff will be on hand to share information about Great Rivers Chicago, their citywide effort to shape a vision for Chicago’s rivers.

Don’t forget to participate in the Great Rivers Chicago survey!

Great Rivers Chicago is still seeking feedback about the current and future state of the Chicago River watershed.  This survey will stay open until June 1, 2015.