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As a leading national energy, water resources, and environmental consulting and engineering firm, our blog aims to educate, encourage thought-provoking discussions, and promote advancement in the industries in which we do business.

 

In a recent blog post my colleague Michael Wolf penned an article about the upcoming changes to the ASTM E1527 Standard, Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process. With that being reported, we wanted to take the opportunity to expand on the presence of the ASTM standards and discuss some of the complimentary standards that exist within the ASTM library. As a voting member on the D18 Soil and Rock Committee and the E50 Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action Committee, I have the fortunate and unique perspective of how the ASTM standards are formulated. Each standard is meticulously prepared by committee under the direction of a committee chairperson and then peer reviewed by voting members of that committee. As such, the standards are developed with a vast amount of experience and expertise in the chosen area. With that kind of expertise behind each standard, the standards can be used as an industry guideline for projects that may not be under any type of regulatory scrutiny.

Energy independence for the United States has many in the country very excited. However the need to construct thousands of miles of pipelines to bring shale gas to market has left others concerned for the safety of our environment. What impact could this have on our beautiful landscape and resources?

The environmental consulting community has recently been engaged in extensive discussions regarding the upcoming revisions to ASTM 1527, the industry-standard practice for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments. Blogs, newsletters, e-mail alerts, webinars and discussion boards have been filled with various opinions and viewpoints on the proposed changes, which are currently under review by the EPA to ensure consistency with AAI. There has been a lot of unnecessary anguish, some misinterpretation, much confusion and certainly occasional praise for the proposed changes. Rather than go into detail regarding each of the proposed revisions, as they have been widely discussed elsewhere, the following are my viewpoints and professional opinions on a few of the issues of concern that have been raised on those forums:

Department of Defense (DOD) properties including Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) and portions of active installations are increasingly being transferred to the control of private entities for redevelopment and reuse. Prior to realignment or transfer, DOD typically commissions the preparation of a site wide environmental assessment report, commonly referred to as a Baseline of Environmental Conditions Assessment (BECA) or Environmental Baseline Survey (EBS).

The BECA will summarize:

The DC metro region formerly served as highly productive farmland, and much of the city's surrounding area remains agricultural. Even properties that have never been commercially developed (e.g., agricultural or vegetated lands) may have historical contamination of soil, surface water and groundwater from applications of pesticides and herbicides. Residual levels of these chemicals cause unintended negative environmental impacts, including soil and groundwater contamination. Given their stable chemical structure, these chemicals can remain in the environment for hundreds of years, and some of their break-down products are linked to a wide array of detrimental health and environmental impacts. 

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