Storage tank sampling

Sampling an Underground Storage Tank: What You Need to Know

If you own a property with an underground storage tank, then you’re probably familiar with testing and assessing the health and reliability of your tank. While most people know this is a process that has to be completed, that tends to be where their knowledge ends—they don’t always understand the nuts and bolts. Today, we’re going to solve that problem by answering some common questions our clients have about their underground storage tanks. If you have one on your property, this is one article you won’t want to skip!

When should an underground storage tank be tested?

Underground storage tanks are tested in order to find or diagnose a problem or issue. Tanks are usually tested at a few key times, such as the anniversary of an installation, a change in ownership, or if it seems like there might be a leak due to a breakdown in equipment or the fact that fuel can be seen or smelled. Chances are, if you suspect your storage tank needs to be tested, it probably does!

Who can collect samples from an underground water tank?

In order to ensure the proper procedure is followed, samples must be collected by an environmental professional, such as the ones who work at Applied Resource Management. This is the best and only way to guarantee that the person completing this important work understands soil sampling requirements, laboratory tests, and next steps should the samples reveal that the tank is contaminated. (If you need a site assessment that includes sampling, do yourself a favor and contact Applied Resource Management today.)

What are these professionals looking for?

As with most things, it depends on the situation. If the tank was used to store gasoline, samples collected at the site will be tested for benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene, and xylene, among other things. Oil storage tanks can also be tested for water in the tank, which can be caused by roof spillage, condensation, or a bad oil delivery. If water is found, it needs to be pumped out to ensure the tank continues to operate safely and effectively.

How are samples collected?

Samples must be accurate, and they are generally taken from freshly exposed soil at a few key locations. Generally, a site assessment and sampling is completed during tank removal or from a soil boring. Samples have to be collected using bottles provided by the laboratory (no plastic baggies or Tupperware allowed!) and they must be labeled clearly with identifying information, such as date, time, and location. It’s also important to take each sample from a single location, rather than soil from all over the property. This is the only way to ensure that the results are an accurate and fair representation of contamination levels.

What parameters are required for the samples?

During a site assessment, samples are taken from the underground storage tank at the places where a leak or release is most likely to occur. The amount of samples will depend on the type of storage tank you have and where it’s located.

  • If you have a single tank, we will generally need two samples, taken from each end of the tank. The samples should be taken one to two feet below the floor of the excavation and above the water table.
  • If you have more than one underground storage tank that holds less than 10,000 gallons, we’ll need to take one sample per tank. The sample will be taken from under the center of each tank, and from a depth of one to two feet below the floor of the excavation ad above the water table.
  • If you have more than underground storage tank that holds more than 10,000 gallons, two samples will need to be taken from the end of each tank. The sample will also be taken from under the center of each tank, and from a depth of one to two feet below the floor of the excavation ad above the water table.

If you have an underground storage tank that needs to be tested, your next step is clear: contact Applied Resource Management today, and rest easy knowing the job will be done right.

protext wetlands on your property

5 Ways to Protect Wetlands on Your Property

At Applied Resource Management, one of our areas of expertise is wetlands delineation. This is process during which we determine whether and where wetlands are located on a property and, if the answer is “yes,” make recommendations about how to continue with your project in a safe and environmentally responsible way. (Curious about what wetlands are and why they’re important? You’re in luck—we covered this in a previous blog post!)

If you have wetlands on your property, it’s important not to view them as a problem. In reality, your wetlands are an opportunity to help preserve the fragile ecosystems that support certain plants and animals. Below are five ways to help your wetlands survive and thrive, and to become a steward of the environment in the process.

1. Maintain a buffer strip of native plants along streams and wetlands.

A buffer will stabilize the streambank, prevent erosion, and improve the health of the wetlands. Native plants are also more resistant to disease, which means you don’t need to use pesticides or fertilizers to help them thrive—in general, they have everything they need!

2. Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly.
Speaking of lawn care aids, try to avoid them whenever possible. The chemicals these products contain can harm wildlife and aquatic life, and negatively impact water quality, especially downstream. If you have pest problem, opt for natural products such as soap or plant-based insecticides. You can also mulch using lawn clippings and leaves instead of fertilizer. Not only are they better for your wetlands, they’re also free!

3. Avoid non-native and invasive species of plants.
Non-native plants have had a devastating effect on wetlands worldwide. The can quickly become invasive, choking out the native species and altering the way the wetlands function. If you see non-native plants moving in, remove them immediately. And if you’re thinking about planting something exotic because it looks cool, don’t. There are plenty of beautiful native species to celebrate and embrace—nurture those instead, and enjoy a healthier environment as a bonus.

4. Avoid stormwater run-off and don’t pollute.

Wetlands need plenty of water to thrive, and much of that is supplied by stormwater—especially in urban areas. If you live near or on wetlands, your stormwater feeds into it. This is why it’s so important to keep stormwater clean, not just for the wetlands on your property, but for any wetlands that might be located downstream from where you live or work. Basically, if you wouldn’t want to swim in it, then don’t throw it down a storm drain!

5. Keep your pets under control.

We love animals and understand that dogs and cats are more than just pets—for many of us, they’re a part of our families. That said, animals can wreak havoc on wetlands and the wildlife populations that live there. The only way to keep all lives—animals and otherwise—safe is to make sure dogs and cats don’t have access to your wetlands. Keep dogs leashed or fenced in, and make sure your cats stay indoors as much as possible. Your wetlands will thank you!

We hope these tips help you keep your wetlands safe, happy, and healthy! If you’re not sure if you have wetlands on your property or don’t know how to best take care of them, contact Applied Resource Management today. Our experts will help you go green and stay that way!

Hardful effects of flooded underground storage tanks

Underground Storage Tanks: Before and After a Flood

Underground storage tanks can pose a grave risk to the soil and groundwater of a property. When they fall into disrepair, they can be considered an environmental liability, especially if they’ve been used to store gasoline, diesel fuel kerosene, or heating oil. Rusted or leaky underground storage tanks as well as abandoned or undocumented tanks must be removed in order to protect homeowners as well as the land they live on.

Applied Resource Management is skilled and experienced when it comes to removing underground storage tanks. Other times, an underground storage tank is still in use. If this is the case at your home, then your UST requires the protection in case of certain situations. One of these situations is flooding.

As we’ve seen in many cities in the eastern United States, including the most recent disaster in Louisiana, the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2011, and the heavy rains that fall here in North Carolina, flooding is a real concern, especially if you have an underground storage tank.

There are a few things you can do to protect your home, property, and environment from a flooded underground storage tank, before and after the water hits. By following the tips below and working with an experienced environmental professional, you can ensure that your underground storage tank is not a liability.

Before the Flood

A flood can cause an underground storage tank to become filled with water and contaminate the area around it. To prevent this, there are a number of things you should do:

  • Measure the water level reading of your tank and take product inventory, so you will be aware of any sudden changes.
  • Fill the tank to weigh it down and keep it from floating out of the ground.
  • Secure all openings and make sure your fill caps are tightened and locked.
  • Make sure the seal on your spill bucket plungers are operational and temporarily cap off the vent pipes. This will keep water from entering the tank.
  • Place sand bags or rocks over the tank to keep it from floating out of the ground.

After the Flood

Once the flood has passed, it’s important to check all aspects of your UST to ensure that no damage was done and all your preparations paid off. This should include the following:

  • First, make sure the power is turned off to protect yourself. Then check to see if anything leaked out of the UST and if any water or debris entered it.
  • Turn the power back on and check to see that the release detection system works.
  • Check and test all equipment, including pumps, shear valves, fill pipes, and vent lines.
  • Clean and empty the spill buckets and sumps and make sure they’re still tight.

We hope these tips help you keep your underground storage tanks safe and secure no matter what the weather does. If you need help forming a plan for your UST, fixing your UST after a flood, or removing an old UST you’re no longer using, contact Applied Resource Management today. We look forward to finding the solution that’s right for you.

What is a brownfield

Brownfields: What You Need to Know

A dilapidated dry cleaning facility that shut its doors a decade ago. An abandoned gas station on the side of the highway. A vacant lot that’s been used as a dumping ground for the last five years. Not only are these types of properties eyesores, they also post an environmental threat to the land they stand on and to the people who live near them. You’ve probably noticed them in your own cities or neighborhoods, and wondering why someone hasn’t done something about them. The truth is that cleaning up these situations, especially when they’ve been neglected for so long, isn’t as easy as it seems.

What is a brownfield?

A brownfield is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”

Brownfield sites can and do include idle, underused, or abandoned properties where the threat of an environmental impact has hindered redevelopment. If property was used by a business or for a purpose that produced high levels of contaminants during its operations, then it’s likely that it’s now considered a brownfield. In fact, the EPA reports that there are over half a million identified brownfields in the United States. The number of undocumented brownfields is likely much higher.

Why are brownfields a problem?

As you can probably guess, the existence of brownfields—especially in such high numbers—is an ongoing problem for federal, state, and local governments, as well as many businesses and industries. Unused property doesn’t help the economy, and contaminated lands are a drain on our environmental health. Not to mention the fact that a brownfield is a blemish on a community, one that will eventually lower property values.

We know what you’re thinking. “Just clean up the brownfields! Problem solved!” Unfortunately, this solution isn’t as cut and dried as one might hope. The problem is that the cost of cleaning these sites is often very high. For many businesses who are interested in buying the land and rehabilitating it, the cost of remediation makes this option financially infeasible.

And yet the benefits of remediating brownfields and putting the land to good use goes far beyond monetary value. Reclaiming these properties creates jobs, expands the tax base, and revitalizes the local economy. This is precisely why state and federal governments have evolved programs to assist developers interested in cleaning up these sites.

How can Applied Resource Management help?  

The North Carolina Brownfields Program is North Carolina’s effort to help in the redevelopment of the brownfield properties. This statute, known as the Brownfield Property Reuse Act, treats developers differently from the parties who contaminated the property in the first place. It allows developers to negotiate an agreement with the program that defines activities needed to make the site suitable for reuse, rather than cleaning it to regulation standards, as the responsible parties are required to do. This means that developers can now afford the cost of fixing up and using the land.

If you’re a developer interested in a property that is or might be a brownfield, the first step is determining if contaminants are present on the property. This means you’ll need an environmental site assessment, which is where Applied Resource Management comes in. Our environmental professionals help in the redevelopment of properties by completing a Brownfields Assessment and Receptor Survey. Contact us today to get started!

Environmental Assessment Reports

Environmental Assessment Reports: What to Expect 

When it comes to construction and development, it’s important to ensure your project is done in a safe and responsible way, which includes the effects your project might have on the environment. It’s the reason an Environmental Assessment Report is legally required before your project begins, and why conducting these reports is one of Applied Resource Management’s specialties.

An Environmental Assessment Report is an integral part of any proposed development project, as it investigates and outlines the likely effects a project will have on the environment. If those effects are deemed harmful, unacceptable, or illegal, then the project will have to be altered or adapted in order to lessen these effects.

There are many situations in which an Environmental Assessment Report may be required. These can include the purchase of a new-to-you property, the ability to get a loan on a piece of real estate, changing how the land is zoned, or if toxic conditions are suspected. In these cases, an Environmental Assessment Report will most likely be required and should be undertaken immediately in order to keep your project on schedule.

Environmental Assessment Reports are completed in one or two phases, depending on your results.

Phase I Site Assessments

The first phase of a site assessment is an economical study. This incorporates a professional property inspection with interviews, a regulatory list review, record searches, and historical aerial photograph research. During this phase, environmental professionals will be on the lookout for concerns such as asbestos, contaminant source areas, lead-based paint, mold, wetlands, threats to endangered species, and earthquake hazards, among other things. At this point, no sampling of soil, air, groundwater, or building materials is required. This phase is simply the first step and is considered part of your environmental due diligence. That said, Phase I Site Assessments are held to standards established by the EPA, which Applied Resource Management carefully follows.

Phase II Site Assessments

If potential contaminant impacts on the subject property are found during the Phase I Site Assessment, you’ll need to conduct a Phase II Site Assessment. In this stage, ARM will prepare a work plan to remediate the areas of concern found on the subject site. Depending on the situation and what was revealed during Phase I, this may include soil and groundwater testing, UST removal, AST removal and/or soil removal. Phase II is considered an “intrusive” investigation to determine the level of risk and what must be done to ameliorate it.

Once an Environmental Site Assessment is complete, a work plan has been created, and any and all issues have been remediated, development can finally begin. All these steps may seem like a lot, but when you have the help of experienced environmental professionals such as Applied Resource Management on your side, the process becomes a lot simpler. If you’re about to start development on a project, contact ARM today and we’ll ensure the number one thing you find during the process is peace of mind.

Site Soil Evaluations

Before You Build: The Importance of a Site & Soil Evaluation

Whether you’re a commercial developer looking to expand your business or an individual hoping to build your dream house, one thing is certain: you’re going to need a site & soil evaluation before you build.

While most people have heard of site & soil evaluations, many don’t know what they are or why they’re important. To help you understand the importance of this vital step, we’re going to walk you through the nitty gritty of this key environmental service.

What is a Site & Soil Evaluation?

The quality of soil on a given site can vary greatly, and these variations will affect how the site can be used and what amendments, if any, must be made. A site & soil Evaluation is one of the first steps toward obtaining any permits, which is why they so important at the beginning of a project.

What Do Site & Soil Evaluations Review?

There are seven site and soil properties we evaluate before any project can begin. These properties are:

  • Soil texture (the amount of sand silt and clay in the soil)
  • Permeability (the rate at which water enters and passes through the soil)
  • Depth of soil to bedrock
  • Slope (the steepness and length of the slope specifically)
  • Shrink-swell of the soil (this involves changes in volume based on the wetness of soil)
  • Water table (the depth at which water occurs in the soil both seasonally and permanently)
  • Flood hazards (the frequency that the site is inundated by flooding)

If you are interested in evaluation of the following two site and soil properties, please contact Applied Resource Management for further information:

  • Erosion hazard (the amount of topsoil currently on the site, and the potential for future loss)
  • Surface runoff (the rate at which water flows off the site, based on slope, permeability, and texture)

Each of these properties will have a huge impact on your project, and knowing where you stand on these issues can help you plan and budget accordingly.

What is the Process Like?

At Applied Resource Management, we begin site & soil evaluations by conducting a preliminary review to determine options and potentially followed by a soils mapping valuation of the entire subject property, leaving no stone unturned. This includes initial soils evaluations, mapping and design recommendations for wastewater disposal areas, and soils maps sealed by a North Carolina Licensed Soil Scientist. An anticipated but approximate long term acceptance rate (LTAR) in gallons per day for drip field design and coordination with design/planning team for maximizing site development is included. For some properties, a lot layout evaluation is an option. The time it takes to complete the evaluation depends on the depth, location, and availability of an approvable soil formation.

How Can ARM Help?

Applied Resource Management’s Soils Division at Applied Resource Management is staffed with highly experienced and well-trained individuals, who focus on facilitating residential and commercial property transfers and transactions. Working with our soil scientists is a crucial step that will give you an accurate understanding of your property and any issues it may have, expert advice on regulatory requirements, a detailed view of the project impacts, and required documentation for and help securing necessary permits.

If you’re about to embark on a development project, your first step should be to contact Applied Resource Management. We’ll make sure you get off on the right foot and that your project is successful from beginning to end.

Best-Ways-to-Dispose-of-Waste-Water

Wastewater: What It Is and How to Handle It

The environmental professionals at Applied Resource Management offer many services that are integral to the smooth execution of home and business-related projects. Some of our services include performing due diligence during property acquisitions, inspecting sites for hazardous substances, and obtaining various permits.

One of our most important services is helping our clients deal with wastewater and stormwater treatment and removal, a process that is vital to a healthy world and thriving population. We can’t exist without water, so taking steps to ensure we treat this precious resource in a responsible way should be a priority no matter what project you undertake.

What is wastewater, anyway?

First, a brief definition. Wastewater, for those who aren’t sure, is any water that has been adversely affected by the impact of humans. This can include any combination of activities from domestic to industrial to agricultural. Basically, if the water has been tainted or changed by humans, it must be treated or disposed of in a safe and responsible manner. This keeps wastewater from upsetting the natural balance of the environment, not to mention spreading pathogens and diseases to humans and animals.

Treatment and disposal—in that order.

Before wastewater can be disposed, it must be treated. Federal, state, and local regulations prohibit the disposal of untreated water into storm drains and surface water, and those who break this law will face hefty consequences. Only after the water has been neutralized can it be returned to the environment.

Some types of wastewater, such as sewage, can be handled by the government in larger urban areas, through municipal wastewater treatment centers. Septic tanks can also help take care of wastewater. In rural areas septic tanks often do this work, so it’s important to ensure that your system follows current guidelines and is working to the best of its ability.

Yes, you CAN recycle water!   

When most people think of recycling, the picture paper, plastic, and aluminum. They don’t usually think of water, but it’s also a resource that can and should be reused when it’s safe to do so.

Some types of wastewater can be reused. For example, gray water—that is, water from bathroom sinks, bath tub shower drains, and clothes washing equipment—can be used in gardening, agriculture, and landscaping, as long as it’s not being consumed by humans. (Using all natural and biodegradable cleaning and personal care products is a good idea if you plan to recycle your water at home.) Another type of water that can be reused is water that has been run through a building’s cooling process. Again, this water shouldn’t be consumed or used for bathing, but it can be reused in other ways.

Need help navigating the world of wastewater?  

If you need help removing wastewater or applying for and procuring any of the required permits, contact Applied Resource Management today. Our professionals can help complete projects of any size in a safe, legal, and environmentally-friendly way. Together, we can help the earth, your business, and each other.

How to Identify a Wetland

Wetlands Delineation: What It Is And Why It Matters

One of the very important services that Applied Resource Management offers is Wetlands Delineation. Wetlands are common in all areas of the United States, but they’re especially prevalent on the North Carolina coast. Whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner, being aware of wetlands on your property is an important part of the building and remodeling process, environmentally and legally. If you ignore wetlands and/or don’t secure the proper permits, you could damage the environment and even face a hefty fine! Luckily, our Soils Division can determine whether and where wetlands exist on a property, keeping your project on track and in line with local and national regulations.

What is a wetland?

According to the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Environmental Protection Agency, a wetland is defined as any area that is inundated or saturated by so much surface or ground water that it supports animal and vegetable life. These saturated areas known as wetlands can include swamps, marshes, and bogs.

Why are wetlands important?

Wetlands are unique ecosystems where certain plants and animals are able to survive and thrive. In other words, if you alter the wetland you could be damaging and possibly destroying these delicate ecosystems. Without the presence of these wetlands, we risk upsetting the natural ecosystem resulting in a degraded environment. This is bad news for plants, animals, and humans, too due to increased pollution, flooding issues, and sedimentation of our waters.

What does a wetland look like?

Wetlands are as diverse as the plants and animals they support. Here in southeastern North Carolina, where Applied Resource Management is based, wetlands often take the shape of marshes and tidal wetlands. Environmental professionals can identify a wetland by testing the soil and identifying the types of plants that are growing in the area. Wetlands plants are uniquely suited to growing in saturated soil, and their presence can be a sure sign of a wetland. This is why it’s easiest to identify a wetland during the growing season.

You’ve got a wetland. Now what? 

If there is an area on your property—residential or commercial—that seems to stay wet, then it’s important to take action before moving forward with any proposed projects, remodels, or expansions. If wetlands are present, don’t worry—your project isn’t doomed! You’ll simply have to take some extra steps, including securing the necessary permits, to move forward in a responsible manner. Permits can include wastewater, CAMA permits, Jurisdictional Determinations, nationwide permits, and local county permits. Once these permits have been granted, you can continue your project in a safe and responsible manner.

While this process can be confusing and time-consuming, the help of an experienced environmental professionals, such as Applied Resource Management, can help. Contact us today and together we’ll ensure that the path you take is the right one.

Water Supply Studies for All Size Properties

Water Supply Studies: One Service, All Sizes

If you’re reading this, chances are you already know Applied Resource Management is southeastern North Carolina’s go-to source for environmental services. What you might not know is that our services are scalable, which means we can help individuals and organizations of any size. In today’s post, we’ll be discussing water supply studies, and how they can be useful to you, no matter how big or small your needs may be.

Small

If you are a homeowner, then a water supply study is an important tool in ensuring the health of you and your family. If you have a private well, it’s even more important to get your water tested, as there is no government agency to do this for you. A water supply study can ensure that the water you use for drinking and bathing meets basic standards, contains no pollutants, and is safe to drink. As a general rule, your well water should be tested once per year. Depending on where you live and if you notice anything amiss in your water, such as a strange color or smell, it should be tested more often. ARM has the equipment and experience to take care of this important matter. Contact us today to schedule your test.

Medium

If you’re a small business owner operating in your community, understanding the rules and regulations of your area is vital to being a good neighbor. That’s why ARM makes sure we have up-to-date and accurate information about local aquifers. This means we are uniquely qualified to help you assess and control potential contaminants, create reports for regularly agencies, and offer management strategies that will help protect your community, your business, and yourself. By taking the steps to create water quality assessments with a trusted company such as ARM, you can sleep well at night knowing you’re doing the right thing.

Large

Water supply studies aren’t just for homeowners and small businesses—they’re also incredibly important for the big guys, such as municipalities, government agencies, golf courses, and farms. If you’re about to embark on a big project, contact us first. We can help make sure that our most precious resource—water—is used in a safe and responsible way, all without having a negative impact on your business plan. Our services include hydrogeologic studies, data collection, and groundwater modeling that will set your business or organization up for a long and healthy life.

For projects of each and every size, Applied Resource Management is the answer. Contact us today and learn how our water supply studies services can help you succeed.

Dangers of Underground Storage Tanks

The Hidden Dangers of Underground Tanks

Older houses have many charms, such as wooden ceilings, detailed trim, and vintage light fixtures. Unfortunately, they can also include some not-so-charming attractions. One of the worst is a leaking underground storage tank. While some people prefer to live by the motto “Out of sight, out of mind,” underground tanks are one of those things that will get worse the longer they are ignored. In this case, it is better to face the problem head on—especially if you have the help of an environmental professional, such as the team at Applied Resource Management.

What is an underground tank?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an underground storage tank (UST) is defined as any tank with ancillary piping that has at least 10% of its combined volume submerged underneath the ground. While these tanks can be used to store gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and heating oil, they do not age well. This means that older USTs present a contamination risk, one that can harm your property’s soil and groundwater, putting both the land and our drinking water in danger. Buried storage tanks can also pose a financial liability to the owner if they are neglected, which is something you definitely want to avoid!

According to the Groundwater Protection Council, many people are not being proactive and taking care of their underground tanks. In fact, there are currently more than 640,000 federally regulated buried tanks that store fuels and other hazardous substances. Of these, about 465,000 have leaked, requiring extensive and expensive clean up.

How can I protect my property and myself?   

If it sounds like you might be headed for a similar situation, we have good news. Applied Resource Management is fully equipped to handle this risk and remove your underground storage tank so you can protect yourself and your property.

It does not matter if you are a home buyer with your eye on a fixer upper, a current homeowner ready to cross this task off your list, or an owner getting ready to sell your place. An underground storage tank can and should be removed by environmental professionals. When you hire Applied Resource Management to take care of this issue, we follow a few steps to make sure the job is completed in a thorough and timely manner. First, we complete a site assessment to see if any chemicals have been released from the tank and whether additional testing and remediation will be required. Next, ARM’s experienced staff of Geologists and Environmental Technicians will coordinate the tank’s removal, along with any remediation of the site. Finally, we will file post-closure reports with the State, securing No Further Action status and seeing if you are eligible for any reimbursement from the State Trust Fund. While these steps may seem confusing or complicated, they are all in a day’s work at ARM. It’s what we do, and we are happy to do it for you.

I’m ready to have my tank removed!

If you have an underground tank that needs to be removed, contact Applied Resource Management today. We will ensure that your soil and water remain protected, so you are free to rest easy and enjoy your property. You can also like us on Facebook for the latest in environmental news and company updates.