On the verge of implementing an expensive long-term remediation "remedy," looking at potential litigation for contaminants migrating into an adjacent neighborhood, and quickly running out of time in their purchase agreement, a Norwegian firm was growing concerned.
It’s a common story: A cold-war era military base whose operating practices would cause environmental impacts to soil and groundwater for decades to come.
Our client, a large multi-national chemical company, approached us with a unique environmental challenge: (1) soil and groundwater at our client's former chemical plant property contained several types of contaminants, (2) our client had a potential buyer for the property, (3) the regulators were both risk-averse and inflexible, and (4) our client's local consultant had already proposed a conventional, but expensive, remediation. There was a lot of work to be done to satisfy both our client and the regulator.
In matters involving permitting, litigation, or remediation of impacted groundwater, knowing more is way better than knowing less. At Dragun Corporation, we use a multi-technique approach to characterize groundwater and groundwater contamination to develop a more robust and precise site characterization to answer tough questions, withstand rigorous expert review, and/or optimize remediation.
The willingness to view risk as part of daily life has vanished. A risk-averse mindset among environmental regulators engenders confusion between the ethics of intention and the ethics of consequence, leading to the elevation of the precautionary principle with unintended and often unfortunate outcomes. Environmental risk assessment is conservative, but the actual level of conservatism cannot be determined. High-end exposure assumptions and current toxicity criteria from the USEPA, based on linear extrapolation for carcinogens and default uncertainty factors for systemic toxicants, obscure the degree of conservatism in risk assessments. Ideally, one could choose a percentile of the target population to include within environmental standards, but this choice is complicated by the food, pharmaceutical and advertising industries, whose activities, inadvertent or not, often promote maladaptive and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
The world of brownfield insurance (BI) was recently shocked to learn that AIG was non-renewing its site pollution liability (SPL) book of business. AIG's Pollution Legal Liability Select (PLLS) policy, issued in 1995, was environmental insurers' first response to the Brownfields Movement. It allowed them to modify previously restrictive and inflexible policies so that they could be used to facilitate transactions. The idea of the policy was that the insured would be able to "select" specific coverages out of a number of modules based on distinctions of time, location, and types of damage, for instance On Site Cleanup Costs due to Pre-Existing Pollution Conditions. However, in addition to this selection process, specific policies also need to be manuscripted or tailored to fit specific risks. They are negotiable contracts, and, as illustrated by most of the cases involving such policies over the last 10 or 15 years, need to be negotiated by coverage experts.
Dr. Vincent Conte of the Miami - Dade County Health Department said about the EPIC hotel Legionnaires' disease outbreak, "What's ironic is the hotel installed a special filtration system to enhance the quality of their drinking water."