Sunday, April 16, 2006

Almost There

The Big Project just keeps on rolling and our other clients and projects don’t stop because of the Big Project. Between the Big Project I wedged in an easy Phase I. The Phase I was of a site down in Sumner, WA currently in the grade and fill phase of development for two large warehouse buildings. It was good to be out of the office walking this site on a gorgeous spring day, sunny blues skies with clearing clouds from the overnight rain. If only the cell phone would shut up.

We went to Phase II soil and groundwater sampling on several of the Big Project sites for various reasons, potential solvent releases, potential former landfill use, potential leaking tank, etc. We also did a geophysical survey of a couple of the sites looking for potential underground storage tanks. We have an expert group of geophysicists in our office and stuff like this is really a cakewalk compared to some of the exotic things they do. Basically they survey the site using a magnetometer looking for large buried metal objects and they also use ground penetrating radar (GPR). A buried cylindrical tank leaves a nice parabolic signature on the GPR scan.

One of the sites has a wastewater treatment tank that, based on our sampling results, has released some chlorinated solvents into the soil and groundwater. The owner (the seller) had scheduled the closure of this tank before the transaction closes. But now the presence of chlorinated solvents in soil and groundwater potentially originating from this tank has the potential to crater the whole 34 property deal. Our client (the buyer) needs to obtain environmental insurance before they can purchase the property. The insurance underwriters won’t issue a policy if the extent of contamination is not characterized. The deal closes April 25.

Again I am finding myself jumping onto a plane Monday morning for San Jose so I can observe the tank closure activities and collect split samples. The owner has a contractor who in turn has hired a consultant to collect samples. The owner has also hired a consultant to watch the contractor (and us). This should be fun – consultants watching each other.

We’re also doing some soil and groundwater sampling to characterize the impact around the tank. We’re using direct-push probe equipment (“Geoprobe”) to collect the samples. Basically this involves driving a core barrel sampler into the soil and retrieving a nice soil core. Groundwater samples are obtained using a PVC well screen inserted into the hollow drive rods or a hydropunch (basically a stainless steel well point driven into the water table). A small bailer lowered into the well screen is used to collect the water sample or the sample can be obtained using PE tubing and a peristaltic pump. There are many variations on this theme.

I’ll be kicking off the soil and groundwater sampling on Tuesday with one of my colleagues out of our Irvine office. I’m sure we’ll have Mr. Owner’s Consultant watching over us. I’ll fly home Tuesday evening while my colleague wraps up on Wednesday.

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