For a PDF version of this case study with photos - click here.What is Due Diligence?Due diligence is an important first step in most property mergers or acquisitions. The purpose is to thoroughly evaluate a property for any potential environmental liabilities that may be present. Seneca is capable of providing the full range of these services to customers.
There are three phases to Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs):Phase I: Initial inspection studying of the property and records.Phase II: Field investigations of recommended issues from Phase I.Phase III: Remediation, or plan to remediate, any identified contaminants on property.
Phase IIn preparation of property transfer due diligence, a Phase I ESA (Environmental Site Assessment) was completed for Kum & Go, LC.
Through the investigation process, it was discovered that the site used to be part of the world’s largest gold refining facility, the Golden Cycle Mill, in operation from 1906 through 1949. An aerial photograph from 1947 show the facility’s former tailings pond, which was used to store excess rock and materials from the milling operations that had occurred on-site.
The pond’s location extended onto the site footprint. By the mid-1950’s, the site and pond were filled in, graded and sold. The property was later purchased by a bank in the 1970’s and a small retail branch was built on the property. For the last 10 years, the building and property have been vacant.
Phase IISubsequently, a Phase II was performed on the property to collect samples to identify any contaminants of concern. Six soil borings were advanced to 20 feet. Soil samples collected from the borings were field screened at one-foot intervals using a PID (photoionization detector). A PID is a handheld device used to measure relative organic vapor concentrations within soil. Soil samples were collected at one-foot intervals and placed in labeled zip-lock plastic bags.
Following sufficient time for vapor equilibration, the PID was used to detect volatile organic compounds from inside of the soil sample bags. After the volatile readings were recorded, an XRF (x-ray fluorescence detector) was utilized to measure specific metallic elements present in the samples. Following completion of the 20-foot soil borings, temporary groundwater monitoring wells were installed in each boring to facilitate collection of groundwater samples.
Unexpectedly, the wells did not produce any measurable water in the wells. After allowing three days for groundwater to accumulate, still no groundwater had infiltrated into the slotted wells, therefore no groundwater samples were collected. After the wells were checked for a third time, the wells were then removed from the soil boring and each boring was filled in with drill cuttings.
Field results indicated there were no notable volatile organics present in any of the borings so the soil samples were not analyzed for VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) or SVOC’s (semi-volatile organic compounds) because it was in the environmental professional’s opinion these analyses were not required. However, elevated levels of arsenic and lead were detected by the XRF meter in the field. Consequently, the soil samples were only analyzed for RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) 8 Metals, Cyanide and pH/Corrosivity.
The laboratory results indicated there are detectable concentrations of all RCRA 8 Metals in each sample, with the exception of selenium in B-2, B-3 and B-9. Some of the metals were cause for concern, like arsenic and cyanide. These two metals had alarming concentrations considering redevelopment, worker exposure and waste disposal.
Phase IIISeneca has continued to assist Kum & Go with the redevelopment of this property by taking the appropriate steps to apply for the Voluntary Cleanup and Redevelopment Program offered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The Voluntary Cleanup and Redevelopment Program was created in 1994 with the objective to facilitate the redevelopment and transfer of contaminated properties.
Properties that sit untouched because of a real or perceived contamination can be rehabilitated through the utilization of this program. The Voluntary Cleanup and Redevelopment Program provides public and private property owners with the resources to facilitate cleanups, as well as assurances against regulatory enforcement. Since the Voluntary Cleanup and Redevelopment Program provides both federal and state agencies a remedial plan approval in one step, banks will accept a No Action Determination (NAD) letter.
This letter serves as an assurance that the state or United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not order a costly, conventional cleanup; easing the bank’s concerns of environmental liability when involved in property transfers.
Seneca and Kum & Go’s civil engineers have designed a plan to redevelop the property to meet these criteria which is being submitted as the Voluntary Cleanup and Redevelopment Program. The plan includes implementing several health and safety programs to monitor and record worker exposure during redevelopment of the property to comply with OSHA regulations. Seneca will implement all Environmental Health and Safety program oversight, training, monitoring and record keeping throughout the duration of the project.
Most importantly, the Voluntary Cleanup and Redevelopment Program is designed to limit and/or eliminate exposure to pedestrians and customers during the future use of the property. This will include a two-foot cap of clean imported soil to be placed over a warning barrier (brightly colored plastic sheeting); installed above the pre-existing contaminated soils. Prior to any landscaping features (trees, shrubs, grass, etc.) being installed on the property, confirmation soil samples will be collected from random locations to prove that the exposed soils are below EPA standards for the chemicals of concern including arsenic, lead and cyanide.
Cleanup decisions are based on existing standards and the proposed use of the property. The actual cleanup and verification is the owner's responsibility and Seneca assists with this process from start to finish. In order to receive the EPA's assurances that Superfund action will not be taken, the owner must submit a completion report as part of a new application for NAD, so that the EPA can review and concur that the plan has been completed as approved. The confirmation soil sample results will be reported in this completion report along with a summary of field activities to achieve an NAD letter.