Soil Transportation & Disposal Services in Philadelphia’s Growing Real Estate Market

Recently the Greater Philadelphia real estate and construction markets have been increasing in five main areas: University City, Market East, the Navy Yard, Camden, and King of Prussia. Three out of these five markets are located within the city limits meaning that there is bound to be a whole lot of change coming to the City of Brotherly Love. Some of these changes will be apparent physically such as the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center which started construction just over a year ago. This building will surpass the current tallest skyscraper in the city, the Comcast Center. When completed the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center will be the tallest building in the United States outside of Chicago and New York City at 1,121 feet.

Although not a skyscraper, arguably the most prominent development will be in University City with the Schuylkill Yards project announced by Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust. This 14-acre, $3.5 billion investment will be the largest-scale project in Philadelphia’s history. The development will encompass an area next to Amtrak’s 30th Street Station and Brandywine’s Cira Centre towers on the west bank of the Schuylkill River. At the end of the predicted 15-20 year construction phase the area will be home to residential, retail, hotel, corporate, and research spaces.

However, no matter what is going into these projects one thing is sure to come out… soil. REPSG’s soil disposal services have seen strong demand over the last few years and we are prepared to keep the momentum going throughout the growth of our city. Located in Southwest Philadelphia our soil disposal services department provides comprehensive services for your disposal needs.

REPSG’s soil experts will help in every step of your transportation and disposal project. Our skilled technicians will start by sampling materials requiring export or disposal. These sample results will provide the information necessary to coordinate the applicable approvals needed to safely and legally dispose of the materials. REPSG will complete and submit all necessary paperwork to the proposed facilities in order to ensure acceptance and approval. Additionally, REPSG will coordinate and provide transportation for the proper disposal of the soil to the facility. Once the work is completed, REPSG will provide all disposal documentation.

REPSG provides the staff and support to sample and dispose of your soil in the most efficient and affordable means. We will work with your construction, demolition, or financing schedule to ensure your project stays on, or ahead of schedule. Your project may not be as large as those highlighted here but regardless of size, REPSG is here to help. We have provided transportation and disposal services to several redevelopment projects in the Greater Philadelphia Area including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Our transportation and disposal department staff have expertise in all standards and regulations of your disposal needs. Contact us for more information by commenting below or contacting our office at (215) 729-3220 or info@repsg.com.

For more information on the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center please visit: http://corporate.comcast.com/media-center/citc-updates

For more information on the Schuylkill Yards project please visit: http://www.schuylkillyards.com/

The Hidden Dangers of Undeveloped Land

Developing farmland might appear, on the surface, to be free of environmental risks and liabilities.  If a field has only ever been a farm field or a forest, what environmental risks could a developer possibly face?  The answer lies in the field itself: pesticides.

In 1997 New Jersey created the Historic Pesticide Contamination Task Force (“Task Force”) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts and health effects of exposure to historic pesticide contamination.  The findings of the Task Force were published in 1999.  The Task Force recommended the sampling of former agricultural areas, particularly in areas where soils will be exposed to children (i.e. schools, daycare centers and playgrounds).  Indeed, under the Site Remediation Reform Act (“SRRA”) former agricultural land is considered an area of concern when the future use of a property includes sensitive populations.  Addendum 2 of the Task Force report lists the concentrations of pesticides included in the NJDEP Soil Cleanup Criteria (“SCC”).  While the Task Force report remains an informative document to be used in assessing a property, the pesticide concentrations included in the addenda are no longer the most up-to-date since the implementation of the New Jersey Soil Remediation Standards in June 2008.  For this reason, it is critical that environmental professionals communicate with the laboratories completing the soil analysis.  The pesticide chlordane is an excellent example of the potential pitfalls to not clearly communicating with the laboratory about project needs.

The old pesticide list required investigators to analyze soil samples for alpha-chlordane (CAS No. 5103-71-9) and gamma-chlordane (CAS No. 5103-74-2) individually.  The current NJ Soil Remediation Standards (“SRS,” last updated October 3, 2011) require the analysis of total chlordane (CAS No. 57-74-9) instead of the individual compounds.  According to N.J.A.C. 7:26D (Table 1A and 1B), total chlordane is calculated by adding together alpha- and gamma-chlordane.

When requesting chlordane from an analytical laboratory, it is critical that you specify the correct chlordane and CAS number.  Unless otherwise specified, the laboratory may report technical chlordane (CAS No. 12789-03-6) which is a mixture of 23 different compounds that include chlordane isomers.  In our experience we have seen analytical results in which technical chlordane is more than double the concentration of total chlordane.

The development of farmland remains an attractive option to avoid environmental risks; however mistaking technical chlordane for total chlordane could mean the difference between compliant soil samples and a delayed project due to repeated rounds of soil sampling.

If you have any questions about Site Remediation, Soil Contamination or the NJDEP, feel free to email me at jmanuel@repsg.com or leave a comment below!

Philadelphia’s Ghost Factories

USA Today’s recent investigation into ongoing lead contamination at sites of former lead smelters, which they term ‘Ghost Factories,’ has gotten a lot of coverage on environmental blogs lately. So, I decided to look and see what they say about Philadelphia. Not surprisingly, the majority of the smelter locations are in the east coast, with thirty-one located in Philly.

The newspaper’s method was to identify the location of former lead smelters (using Sanborn maps, of course), then went to 21 of those neighborhoods, and pointed an XRF analyzer at the ground, often in residents’ backyards. Most of these yards had elevated lead levels in the soil: 80% of of the neighborhoods had a median soil lead level above 80 ppm, several neighborhoods reached above 2,000 ppm. “Lead levels in the soil samples collected by USA TODAY were generally highest in places like Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia — where old inner-city neighborhoods mingled with industrial sites.”

The thrust of the story is the danger posed to children in these neighborhoods, and the lack of action by the EPA to address it.

Now, this bring up a few issue. First of all, it’s not like the EPA can conclusively hold the lead smelters accountable for contamination of an entire neighborhood. There are plenty of sources of lead in urban areas, it wouldn’t be hard to fight a charge. Yet, it shows a big gap in the superfund law. We do a lot of work to clean up brownfields. When a commercial transaction happens, due diligence functions as a useful screen to find out about contaminated sites and remediate them. Well, as long as there’s an interest in redevelopment. But no one conducts a Phase I when they buy an old rowhome in Kensington. What does USA Today think that the EPA is supposed to do here?

There are more than 400 of these ghost factories, only 230 are pinned down in this investigation. “Because most of the old smelters had operated for decades without any regulatory oversight and are now gone, little was known about the size of each factory, where they were located, how much lead they processed and how much pollution they left behind.” A start would be to find these factories. Then what, test everyone’s soil? Mount a massive education campaign? Pave every yard and park? It sounds a lot like the radon situation, a ubiquitous environmental hazard primarily affecting residences, and frustration about the EPA’s lack of action.

And speaking of Ghost Factories, REPSG’s own Jerry Naples received a shout-out on WHYY’s Radio Times recently. As part of the ongoing discussion of Ghost Factories in our city, Marty Moss-Coane featured the topic on her hour long PBS radio show Radio Times.  Her guests included USA Today reporter Allison Young, and Mary Seton Corboy, the founder of Greensgrow Farms in Kensington. Jerry Naples’ shout out came about halfway through the interview, when Mary was talking about the difficulty of developing neighborhood urban farms atop contaminated soils. Mary mentioned that Greensgrow was fortunate to have a member of their board who runs an environmental remediation company. That, my friends, would be REPSG.

You can download and listen to the whole interview on WHYY’s website here and hear how the USA Today’s report has started (or re-started) the conversation of residential pollution in urban environments.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about ghost factories, lead contamination, radon, or any environmental hazards in your community? Feel free to leave a comment below  or contact me at jromanchek@repsg.com.