2017 kicked off on a good note as four of W&M’s clients received closure letters from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for real property that had been entered into the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP).
The most challenging closure was for a former light industrial facility in West Texas that had a release of chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the shallow portions of the Ogallala Aquifer. The Ogallala is a highly valued source of water for agricultural, industrial and domestic use in West Texas and beyond. The affected portion of the aquifer extended to a depth of nearly 100 feet. Many years of monitoring by previous consultants had shown that the VOCs were not being degraded at a very rapid pace, so W&M recommended that the client seek a Municipal Setting Designation (MSD) to restrict the use of groundwater from the affected area. W&M worked closely with the City’s Department of Water Resources and demonstrated that no water wells were being jeopardized. The MSD concept was presented to a well-attended public meeting, and was later approved by the City Council and TCEQ. In this case, the MSD was an excellent option to on-going groundwater monitoring with the result of final case closure.
W&M also assisted private developers in the closure of two urban properties (one in Dallas and one in Houston) that had been impacted by releases to soil from historical light industrial activities. One property had an MSD in-place under a portion of the property, but the remainder did not. The second property contained a small area of soil with elevated metals that was characterized and removed during the early stages of redevelopment to allow construction to proceed. W&M used the MSD, Tier 2 soil-to-groundwater calculations and other tools available under the Texas Risk Reduction Program (TRRP) to demonstrate that the properties were eligible for VCP certificates. Both properties have now been redeveloped for residential apartments.
The fourth closure was for a warehouse/showroom property in Dallas’ Design District. This is an active redevelopment area in Dallas, and historical data shows a number of potential sources of VOCs that have affected groundwater, resulting in many properties that have gone through the VCP process. W&M obtained an MSD for the property through the City of Dallas and the property received an affidavit indicating it was eligible for closure in mid-February 2017. The client has already re-purposed the property to suit their expanding needs in the Dallas area.
The closures demonstrate the use of a variety of tools to address environmental contamination under the TRRP, including the use of MSDs, development of site-specific cleanup targets based upon local conditions, and demonstrations of groundwater protectiveness in situations where minor soil contamination is not likely to affect groundwater.
For more information on the VCP, MSDs, or the closure process, contact Frank W. Clark, P.E. at 972-509-9611, or [email protected].