In mid-October, EWI Senior Project Manager Bobbilynne Koepke and Due Diligence Manager Nick Godfrey presented at the Missouri American Planning Association (APA) conference in St. Louis. Their presentation, “Expect the Unexpected,” focused on a specific case study of the new Mass Transit Center, which opened last year in Springfield, Missouri.
Presenting at the Missouri APA Conference 2017
Koepke discussed the environmental work completed by EWI in association with the project, starting with the Phase I environmental site assessment and going all the way through the soil and groundwater investigation, lead remediation, and removal of orphan tanks found during construction. Godfrey explored the many elements of due diligence and the fact that simply having a Phase I assessment does not mean that you’re in the clear. Unexpected issues can arise, but if you prepare properly and handle the setbacks in the right way, you can expedite the process and move forward in good standing.
The Case Study
City Utilities (CU) hired EWI to complete a Phase I on eleven parcels of land in downtown Springfield, the future location for the city’s new Mass Transit Center. EWI looked for potential environmental liabilities and issues that might arise during construction. Historical records indicated a former gas station on site as well as one on the property to the south.
- CU subsequently asked EWI to complete a Phase II limited subsurface investigation to determine if there was any petroleum impact associated with these features. One of the borings revealed that a petroleum release may have occurred on the property. This triggered the state to require additional soil and groundwater sampling (referred to as site characterization).
- EWI helped CU get the site enrolled and set up a claim with the Missouri Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund (PSTIF), so that CU would only have to pay the first $10,000 of costs related to the investigation.
- During the investigation, EWI found an isolated area of lead impact (fairly common at historically developed urban properties), at concentrations above Missouri’s target levels protective of construction workers. CU had EWI excavate the soil in this area as a safety precaution prior to construction.
A “No Further Action” (NFA) status for the property was granted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) just eight months after beginning the investigation – most site characterization investigations take two to four years, if not longer, depending on amount of contamination at the site. However, EWI worked with MoDNR from the very beginning to ensure they understood the importance of getting an NFA for the site – CU was depending on getting a federal grant to help with the construction costs for the multi-million dollar project, and without the NFA status, the grant funding may have fallen through. EWI also facilitated conference calls with MoDNR and requested expedited reviews of all reports and work plans. All of the parties involved worked well together, resulting in a quick turnaround.
Construction at the site began in June 2015. In August of that year, a 2,000-gallon tank was discovered while leveling soil for the parking lot area. CU called EWI to the site to remove the tank, excavate minor soil impact around it, and collect confirmation samples. Everything came back clean, and work continued as usual. Then, in December 2015, a second tank was discovered near the future building, in an area away from where the known former gas station had been. EWI was called in again, removed the tank and completed minor soil excavation and sampling. Both tanks were a surprise as EWI’s research during the Phase I had indicated all tanks had been removed from the site after the gas station closed, and soil samples collected during the site characterization near where the two tanks were found had not indicated any petroleum impact in these areas. All information was submitted to MDNR, and CU received NFA status for both tanks.
Expect the Unexpected
This case study illustrates that even if you implement proper due diligence and make every effort to be a good environmental steward, issues can arise. EWI conducted a thorough investigation and completed every step of the process through the proper channels, and yet surprises still popped up. When issues arose, however, EWI handled them properly, and maintained good rapport and communication with the state and PSTIF. Had CU not done proper due diligence, the governmental agencies may not have been so willing to expedite the process. If impact had been discovered during construction rather than through the due diligence process, the PSTIF may have deemed the site ineligible for benefits and CU would have had to foot the entire investigation cost themselves. If not for the accelerated timeline and cooperation between client, consultant, and state agencies, CU might not have been able to obtain the grant funding which ultimately might have killed the construction project.
Instead, the city of Springfield now has a brand-new mass transit center that serves an entire community. The project was completed without any major delays or significant cost overages.
To view the slides of the presentation “Expect the Unexpected,” please click here.