Alpha Environmental, Inc.

Environmental Professionals providing superior services since 1991

Alpha Environmental, Inc. (AE) is a separate company from Rose Hill Communications, Inc., however, we share some personnel and expertise and overlap in regard to the assessment of properties that clients may wish to purchase.

The following sections describe Alpha Environmental's services.   Additional information on how Rose Hill Communications' community and stakeholder assessments can be used to uncover "community-based environmental liabilities," and can enhance other, technical Environmental Property Assessments, is listed afterward.

For Additional information on Alpha Environmental, Inc., contact:
Renee Hix Mays
(630) 772-1201
rhm13@aol.com


About Alpha Environmental, Inc.

Alpha Environmental, Inc. (AE) was founded with the goal of providing superior environmental consulting services at a reasonable cost.  AE is dedicated to providing effective and sound environmental management, while conforming to all legal and regulatory requirements.

AE's team of environmental professionals includes LEED AP, Licensed Professional Geologists and environmental scientists who can provide one-stop services to your environmental needs including green building certification.  This team brings a wide background of collective experience to each project.  AE's project approach is designed to fit the specific needs of each client.  Our project team is committed to developing fresh ideas and innovative solutions in the management of environmental concerns, issues, and sustainability.

Summary of Environmental Services

Environmental Property Assessments (See Descriptions Below)
  • Phase I
  • Phase II
  • Phase III

Environmental Investigations
  • Delineation of Contamination
  • Identification of Sources
  • Hydrogeological Characterization
  • Soil Sampling and Profiling
  • Monitoring Well Installation and Sampling
  • Waste Characterization
  • SPCC Plans & SWPP
  • Illinois EPA Voluntary Site Remediation Program

Remediation Services
  • Source Removal
  • Bio-remediation
  • Soil Vapor Extraction
  • Carbon Absorption
  • Pump and Treat
  • Air Stripping

Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)
  • Site Assessment
  • Tank Upgrade or Replacement
  • Tank Closure and Removal
  • Soil and Groundwater Investigation
  • Regulatory Reporting
  • Trust Fund Reimbursement

Asbestos Identification & Remediation
  • Asbestos Identification Survey
  • Representative Sampling
  • Development of Remediation or O&M Plan
  • Manage Encapsulation or Removal of Asbestos Containing Materials
  • Preparation of Documentation

Solid Waste Management
  • Landfill Feasibility Studies
  • Siting and Permitting
  • Operations and Maintenance
  • Closure Plans
Phase I Services

AE has performed hundreds of Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) for lending institutions, purchasers and sellers of real property.  Each assessment is performed with the client's needs in mind.  When an environmental concern is identified during the assessment, a cost estimate is provided, where necessary, to address the problem.

AE's Phase I assessments conform to the audit requirements established by Illinois Statutory Environmental Assessment Standards and those standards promulgated by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM E 1527-05).  AE's assessments also conform to the U.S. EPA's All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) Final Rule, 40 CFR Part 312, promulgated in 2005.

AE's basic approach to an environmental property assessment incorporates the following activities:

  • Historic site background review
  • On-site visit and interviews with facility staff
  • Review of local resources including city building and fire department files and library materials
  • Assessment of maps and aerial photographs obtained from county departments and the Soil and Water Conservation Service
  • Environmental database review.

The historical reseach activities allow AE to ascertain previous land use(s) associated with the property.  During the site visit, AE evaluates the site for the presence of hazardous building materials such as asbestos and lead-based paint; the usage, storage, handling or disposal of hazardous chemicals; the location and contents of above-ground and underground storage tanks; and the presence of wetland or floodplai conditions.  AE then prepares a Phase I report documenting all findings and reporting conclusions and recommendations.

Should AE identify areas of significanat environmental concern, a telephone report will be made to the client, who can then decide whether to continue with the assessment or to redirect its focus.  When areas of environmental concern are identified, a Phase II assessment involving more intensive site investigative activities may be recommended.  Environmental sampling and analysis is typically performed during the Phase II investigation.  Depending upong the site investigation results, remedial actions (Phase III) may be proposed.
Phase II Services-Environmental Investigation and Remediation

AE has performed hundreds of environmental investigations that are typically undertaken as a result of findings of a Phase I environmental site assessment, the removal of an underground storage tank that has leaked, or the unexpected release or spill of a chemical into the environment.  The investigation may be required by a regulatory agency, such as those that take place as a result of a LUST incident, or the investigation may be undertaken in order to facilitate a property transfer or as part of the agency's voluntary site remediation program.
AE takes the approach that regulatory compliance and sound operating practices will save our clients money.  Savings are commonly realized through reduction of risk of environmental contamination, reduction of the potential for worker exposure to toxic chemicals, and reduction of loss of product through a release to the environment.
The site investigation can include surface and/or subsurface testing, sampling and analytical work depending on the characteristics of the subject property.  The investigation may be as limited as collecting representative surface soil samples, or as complex as the installation of soil borings and/or groundwater wells and collection of representative samples for laboratory analysis.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation field activities and the analytical results, remedial actions may be necessary to remove impacted media from the site.  Site remediation objectives can be mandated by certain regulatory programs, such as the Illinois EPA's Tiered Approach to Corrective Action Objectives (TACO), which oversees LUST cleanups.  Remedial actions typically encompass one or more services:

  • Source removal of contaminated soil and/or water
  • Installation of remediation systems for soil such as soil vapor extraction or bioremediation
  • Installation of remediation systems for groundwater such as pump-and-treat.

At the conclusion of the site investigation and/or remedial action activities, AE will prepare the appropriate reports and documentation for submission to the client and regulatory agency, as necessary.  AE performs each site investigation or remedial action in response to the specific site conditions to ensure that the client is served in the most cost-effective manner.  A well-planned and well-conducted investigation will both satisfy regulatory requirements and present the client with useful information for future decisions regarding the site.
Underground Storage Tanks

AE offers underground storage tank services ranging from construction and installation oversight to removal and closure.  AE has assisted numerous clients in the proper closure and removal of underground storage tanks and investigation of Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) incidents.  Underground storage tank investigations are undertaken in accordance with regulatory requirements promulgated under both federal and state statutes.

The UST services AE provides include:

  • Tank testing, monitoring, leak detection, maintenance and upgrades
  • Tank removal and closure assessments
  • Soil and groundwater investigations at LUST sites
  • Preparation of documentation including 45-day, Site Classification, and Corrective Action Plans & Completion Reports
  • Implementation of remedial option
  • Trust fund reimbursement

AE supervises the tank removal operations and, when necessary, prepares the appropriate documentation for submission to the regulatory agency.  In cases where a release from the tank(s) is suspected.  AE collects the required soil samples for laboratory analysis in order to confirm the nature and extent of the contamination.  AE ensures that all tank and excavated soil removal, handling, and disposal activities are conducted in accordance with regulatory requirements.

In cases where soil and/or groundwater contamination is identified as a result of a leaking underground storage tank, AE will prepare the necessary reports for the regulatory agency and implement the remedial action chosen.  If a tank cannot be removed because of structural constraints, AE will assist the client in obtaining the necessary permits and abandoning the tank in place.

If the leaking underground storage tank removal and remediation activities are conducted under circumstances where the costs can be reimbursed, AE will prepare the required documentation to obtain cost recovery.
Community-Based Environmental Liabilities:  When the Purchase of Existing Facilities or Property Brings Unexpected-and Potentially Costly-Public Baggage

Environmental site assessments (ESAs) of existing facilities or properties are supposed to identify "recognized environmental conditions" that could, if they were to go undetected, expose purchasers to significant financial liabilities.  But while ESAs and other legal and financial reviews can flag many potential problems, community-based issues often go undetected-even though such issues can jeopardize a purchaser's ability to operate a facility long-term or signal the likelihood that options for the development of property may be more limited than current zoning and land use documents suggest.

Community-based liabilities most often arise from:

  • Community displeasure with the way previous owners operated a facility and/or concerns about the effects, or perceived effects, a facility has had on the area.
  • Changes or contemplated changes in zoning or land use near the facility or property in question.
  • Changes in community attitudes toward industrial or commercial land uses.

Fortunately, the Community and Stakeholder Assessment Process used by Rose Hill Communications can often identify such issues before a client makes a purchase.  The following mini-cases illustrate the concept of "community-based liabilities" and the costs that can accrue from ignoring them.

Case One-The Gentrifying Industrial Park

One of Rose Hill Communications' chemical industry clients was considering the purchase of an existing facility.  On paper, the facility looked good.  A map of the area indicated that the facility was located in an industrial park and that the land behind it was owned by a railroad.  Thus, the facility appeared to be located in an appropriate area with no homes within at least a quarter or a mile, suggesting that our client could continue to operate there well into the future.

The character of the surrounding area, and particularly, the lack of nearby residences, was important to our client because the facility it wanted to purchase and continue to operate manufactured large quantities of a chemical that was both an air toxic and ignitable.

The client asked us to take a closer look at the area in which the facility was located.  As it turned out, this extra measure of due diligence was fortuitous.  Our document research, trip to the facility, and interviews of local officials revealed a far different picture of the area than the current land use maps and zoning documents showed.  Our findings included the following surprises:

  • The "industrial park" had-for lack of a better term-gentrified.  Not only had some of the larger buildings within a few blocks of the facility been converted into a multiplex movie theater, a kids' party center with amenities such as laser tag, and outlet stores, but some of the smaller buildings in the park-buildings that were literally across the street from the facility-had been converted into such non-industrial uses as a kiddie gymnastics school and a daycare center.

  • Interviews of local officials revealed that the "railroad" property had recently been purchased by the brother of a state senators, and was being fast-tracked for the development of luxury town homes.  A railroad had indeed owned the property, but the land had never been used and was considered suitable for residential development.

Needless to say, our client took a pass on this particular facility and purchased another one where it could continue to operate well into the future without undue community concern.

Case Two - $1 Million Down the Drain

A construction company had plans to move one of its asphalt plants from one location to another, more suitable location in an industrial area located within the same municipality.  The company was commencing with the decommissioning and remediation of its original plant and site as it moved ahead with its plans to build the new facility.

This particular company had, to its knowledge, enjoyed good relations with the municipality; however, as it proceeded through the approval process to construct the new asphalt plant, its managers soon realized that something was wrong.  After several meetings with municipal officials, it was clear that the municipality did not want a new asphalt plant built within its limits-even in an area zoned for industry.  After spending approximately $1 million preparing for the move, the company realized that the construction of the new asphalt plant wasn't going to happen.

Rose Hill Communications didn't work on this particular case, which was unfortunate.  It is likely that a day or two of document research (e.g., of municipal planning and zoning documents, master plans, etc., and a review of local newspaper stories on environmental and industry issues), along with a handful of interviews with municipal planning staff members and other officials, would have revealed that the plans for the new asphalt plant were in peril.  Learning of this problem earlier in the process would have saved the construction company time and money and allowed its management to begin looking for a new site before remediation at the old site was underway.


Case Three-Lies, Public Outrage, and Upscale Residents

A waste management company purchased an existing building with a small industrial park where it planned to operate a RCRA TSDF (Treatment, Storage, or Disposal Facility) to manage hazardous wastes.  Since the buildin was located in an industrial park in a rural area on the outskirts of a small town, the company didn't anticipate any problems.  Permitting of the facility proved to be a nightmare, however.  Owners of "upscale" homes that had been build on re-zoned property nearby protested vigorously to the state environmental regulatory agency and brought political pressure to bear against the waste management company.

A stakeholder and community assessment, which was conducted by a colleague of Rose Hill Communications afer attempts to obtain the permit were met with major resistance, revealed that the property on which the upscale homes were built had been re-zoned as a favor to a local politician.  The assessment further revealed that the people who bought the homes, which were constructed by another politically connected builder, had been told that the nearby industrial park was slated to be closed so it wouldn't disturb their idyllic surroundings.

The situation with the re-zoning and the false promises regarding the industrial park were well known to local officials and would almost certainly have turned up during an assessment-had the company thought to perform one before it purchased the building.

Unfortunately, the fact that the homeowners in the nearby residential development had been lied to about the closing of the industrial park wasn't enough to overcome their opposition to the TSDF's permit application.  After several long years of acrimonious public meetings, the waste management company decided to cut its losses and seek a new location.

(Postscript on this case: By the time the waste management company decided to find a new location, some of its neighbors were so angry that they traveled to the town where they company had hoped to build its new facility.  These neighbors proceeded to whip up opposition against the company among the new town's residents, creating another round of acrimony and proving that when serious conflicts gather steam, they can take on lives of their own.)