ThroughoutMassachusetts, releases of materials containing volatile organic compounds (e.g., petroleum products, dry cleaning fluids, industrial solvents) have impacted soil and/or groundwater. When these releases occur near buildings, volatilization of contaminants in the subsurface can result in the intrusion of vapor-phase contaminants into indoor air spaces and can pose a risk to workers and other building occupants.
In June 2010, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) updated its Standard Practice for Assessment of Vapor Intrusion into Structures on Property Involved in Real Estate Transactions (E2600-10). This guide defines a procedure to identify, during a Phase I property assessment, whether a vapor intrusion condition exists, likely exists, cannot be ruled out, or can be ruled out because a vapor intrusion condition does not or is not likely to exist.
In response to the regulated community’s questions and concerns, in December 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) issued an Interim Draft Vapor Intrusion Guidance document to provide regulatory guidance on assessing and mitigating vapor intrusion pathways at sites regulated by the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP). This document addresses approaches to the assessment and remediation of vapor intrusion in order to maintain compliance and eventual site closure within the MCP.
Both the ASTM guide and the MassDEP guidance documents can be applied to property with existing structures, property with structures that will be substantially rehabilitated, property without existing structures but having planned structures (e.g.,, property in development), or property without existing structures and with no planned structures (e.g.,, undeveloped property with no planned development).
Following receipt of public comments, due by March 1, 2011, the MassDEP will finalize the Vapor Intrusion Guidance document. If you have a concern about the potential for your existing or planned property to have a vapor intrusion impact, call Dawn Horter at 508.970.0033 ext. 118.
As we are more than half-way through 2010, it is a good time to review requirements relating to chemical releases to the air from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) perspective. As opposed to releases to soil or water, reporting of releases to air is often unclear or overlooked. This is typically because, due to the nature of an air release, the highest priority becomes coordinating and conducting the necessary rapid remedial response.
Most chemical releases to the air require MassDEP notification as soon as possible, but not more than 2 hours after obtaining knowledge that the release or threat of release meets one or more of the following:
- A sudden, continuous or intermittent release or a threat of release to the environment of a hazardous material when:
- the quantity of the release is or is likely to be equal to or greater than the applicable Reportable Quantity, and
- it is likely that the release occurred within any period of 24 consecutive hours or less
- A threat of release to the environment of a hazardous material when:
- a release or threat of release of a hazardous material, in any quantity or concentration, that poses or could pose an Imminent Hazard
- A release to the environment which results in the presence of hazardous material vapors within buildings, structures, or underground utility conduits at a concentration equal to or greater than 10% of the Lower Explosive Limit
- A release to the environment of reactive or explosive hazardous material which threatens human health or safety
- A release to a roadway that endangers public safety
- A release to the environment that poses a significant risk to human health when present for even a short period of time
- A release to the environment which produces readily apparent effects to human health, including respiratory distress or dermal irritation.
The MCP does allow for a delay in notification if one of the following extenuating circumstances can be established by a preponderance of evidence in which case notification must be made as soon as possible:
- A lack of reasonably-available communication equipment at the site of the release or threat of release
- A need to take actions prior to notification in order to mitigate or prevent an Imminent Hazard and/or threat to public safety, and/or
- physical injury to the person responsible for notifying caused by or associated with the release or threat of release, when the injury reasonably prevents that person from notifying
In recent years, the MassDEP has been placing a priority on issuing penalties for violations for failure to notify in a timely manner. The MassDEP does have a provision for retracting a release notification within 60 days if it is determined that the released amount is below the applicable MassDEP Reportable Quantity. Therefore, in order to avoid a violation, it is better to report a release of unknown quantity than delay notification until the released quantity is confirmed.
For more information please call Dawn Horter (508) 970-0033 ext. 118 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The words environment, health and safety can bring thoughts of “compliance” to one’s mind. The regulatory agencies MassDEP, EPA and OSHA are a reminder to us that compliance requirements are being enforced and must be met to avoid penalties or fines. This was true until companies that you sell your products to (i.e., your customers) began getting serious about something they call “supply chain management.” Supply chain management is when your customers try to manage their risks by becoming regulators themselves.
The biggest company in the world, Wal-Mart, is one of the companies that have been pushing the envelope by “greening” their supply chain. The company has developed a rigid 15-point sustainability index that must be met by more than 61,000 suppliers and all the factories that they use. Failure to meet these environmental and social requirements and maintain or lower the price of your products, could result in termination of your Wal-Mart contract.
CAPACCIO recently became involved in helping a Wal-Mart customer, a leading snack food industry manufacturer, prepare for a Wal-Mart audit. Utilizing Walmart’s 15-point sustainability framework, CAPACCIO helped the client prepare for the audit by assessing the company’s current sustainability state against Wal-Mart’s index.
As part of the 15-point framework, Wal-Mart grades companies on four broad categories: energy and climate; material efficiency; nature and resources; and people and community. CAPACCIO found that the company’s current state was already quite “green.” As a family-owned business, the company opted not to promote their environmental and social successes. Wal-Mart, however, was very happy to hear their stories and learn that the snack food company was exploring a number of opportunities to further improve their operations.
CAPACCIO provided the client with an analysis of how they would be scored based on Wal-Mart’s 15-point sustainability framework at the current time. CAPACCIO also provided a number of specific action items that could be considered to help improve the score. Some recommendations were to prepare water and carbon footprint reports and disclose the results to the Carbon Disclosure Project and the newly formed Water Disclosure Project. CAPACCIO also recommended that the client reach out to its supply chain to learn more about energy and water use in order to complete the disclosures. We also advised the client to consider creating documentation to present the completed sustainability initiatives and post this information on the company web site or include it in a sustainability report.
CAPACCIO helped this client make an internal business case for these sustainability initiatives. By going through this process, the business has prospered, and all of the client’s retail customers, not just Wal-Mart, have reaped the benefits.