ASTI Environmental (ASTI) has served small to medium size businesses throughout the nation for over 30 years.  That experience confirms that business owners have limited resources to handle environmental challenges and that those challenges occur at the most inopportune time, creating a major distraction from the real job.  To get business owners back to business, ASTI’s approach is to educate owners on environmental risk management and provide services that mitigate the risk and expense on those occasions when challenges arise.  

Owners engage environmental professionals for their technical expertise, experience, knowledge of current and pending requirements, and ability to navigate the maze of local, state and federal requirements, but more importantly, they engage them in order to provide cost-effective solutions to managing environmental risks.  Whether managing risk proactively, or responding to challenges, the correct environmental professional will help you minimize risk and maximize  performance.

Environmental issues subject to state and Federal law can be present in virtually any business, whether you are planning new construction, renovating existing facilities, managing historic buildings, or running day-to-day operations.  Here are a few items with current changes.

Compliance, Plans and Permits
Almost every commercial and industrial business has at least one operation that stores chemicals and oils, creates liquid waste, creates scrap, requires outdoor storage, has stacks and vents, or requires operator training.  In addition, even if you have a compliance program, it may not have been updated as required.  With over 15,000 pages of federal environmental regulations existing today, it is mind numbing to determine which operation is regulated and how.  To help you stay focused, ASTI will conduct a free initial facility inspection and provide a road map of key compliance issues.   Once the key items have been identified, a regulatory gap analysis can be conducted, and a compliance audit completed.   In some locations, if done correctly, this audit can provide a shield against penalties and fines.

Environmental Due Diligence 
When purchasing new property or refinancing real estate, an inspection and historical review known as a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment daylights historical areas of concern, and is a major step to qualify for the innocent landowner and bona fide purchaser defenses to CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response and Compensation Liability Act) liability.  The new standard  for the Phase I (ASTM E1527-13)  focuses the review on more issues, and may result in new concerns during refinancing. Buyers may still be 

responsible for any historic impact on a property if they have not properly completed their environmental due diligence by preparing a Phase I ESA prior to purchase.  In some states, like Michigan, additional documentation is required if historical impacts are identified.  

Vapor Intrusion
Volatile Organic Compounds (e.g. gasoline and paint components, dry cleaner fluids etc.) can diffuse through soil and  into buildings up to one hundred feet away, or be transported by groundwater over long distances.   As such, vapor intrusion  has been the subject of considerable scrutiny by regulators in the past few years.  A vapor migration investigation (ASTM E2600-10) can identify properties that are potentially impacted,  and engineering controls, such as installing a ventilation system or vapor barriers, can be incorporated into new construction or retrofitted to existing buildings.

Storage Tanks
Depending on the size, number, use and contents of the tanks, Underground and Above Storage Tanks (UST/AST) are required to have detailed spill plans,  secondary containment systems, and monitoring programs.   A baseline audit can identify which tanks are regulated and provide a compliance schedule.

Asbestos and Lead Based Paint
Asbestos-containing building materials (ACBM) are suspected in any building built before 1981, but ACBMs are still available, so even new buildings may contain ACBMs.  For buildings built before 1981, a pre-demolition or pre-renovation asbestos inspection will be required, but depending on your end use and financing requirements, even new buildings may need an inspection.   Similarly, lead-based paint (LBP) can be present in buildings built prior to 1978.  For residential use, those buildings should be inspected prior to any demolition, renovation or use. 

Note: Child care centers licensed in the State of Michigan before December 7, 2006, located in a building constructed prior to 1978, have until January 2, 2017 to obtain a lead risk hazard assessment.

Brownfield Redevelopment
Business owners and developers seek brownfield 

property because these sites are well located, have existing infrastructure, and typically come with an asking price below market.  More importantly, these brownfield sites may have access to incentives to offset extraordinary costs.  There are a number of ways a property can qualify for Michigan’s brownfield program including: contamination above residential criteria, blighted or obsolete buildings, historical resource and properties contiguous or adjacent to a brownfield.  Eligible expenses can include environmental assessments, asbestos and lead paint abatement, demolition, remediation or control of contaminated materials, infrastructure installation, parking structures, urban storm water management systems, interest, hard construction costs, and some associated professional fees.  ASTI will conduct a free initial review of project financials to determine availability of incentives.  

The term wetland applies to public and private lands 
regardless of zoning or ownership.  Under Michigan’s Wetlands statute (Part 303), Wetlands are defined as “land characterized by the presence of water, that under normal circumstances, supports wetland vegetation and aquatic life,” and may be commonly referred to as bogs, swamps and marsh.  Identifying wetlands involves three factors: the predominance of wetland vegetation, hydric soils, and evidence of hydrology. Activities in regulated wetlands that require a permit include placing fill; dredging or removing soils or minerals; constructing, operating or maintaining any use or development; or draining surface water.  Recently, the trend has been for replacement using wetland banks, and ASTI can assist in identifying and negotiating the necessary permits and programs for mitigation.

This article was researched and written by ASTIs Director of Development Doug Brown and President Tom Wackerman.  Mr. Brown can be reached at 810/599-8131, 616/957-5601 or dbrown@asti-env.com.

Tech-Bits is a publication of ASTI Environmental, P.O. Box 2160, Brighton, Michigan, 48116-2160.  For a free subscription call 800.395.ASTI or visit www.asti-env.com

Tech-Bits is intended to provide information concerning current environmental issues, and is not intended to provide technical or legal advice regarding any particular situation.  Specific questions should be addressed to your environmental professional.  ©2015 by ASTI