Mid-Atlantic Associates, Inc.

Vapor Intrusion Update


Source: Mid-Atlantic Associates, Inc.

February 2012 -- Vapor intrusion (VI) is a process by which chemicals in soil or groundwater migrate to indoor air above a contaminated site. VI first hit the regulatory scene in 1993 when people began to first realize that this was a primary pathway to be exposed to suburface contamination. As a result, requirements were initally established governing assessment and cleanup requirements for contaminated sites. After a decade, VI gained momentum after it was discovered that the severity of the VI issues was initally underestimated. Since then, staying abreast of all the varying requirements and guidance among the states (and the multitude of regulatory departments within each state) has been challenging, to say the least. 

There are currently three different agency programs (Brownfields, Inactive Hazardous Sites, and DSCA) that can impose VI assessment requirements on your property in North Carolina, with more in the works. Each program has its own VI criteria and assessment guidance, which vary considerably. On top of that you have various guidances and standards under EPA, ASTM and ITRC that vary in approach to each other, including the North Carolina guidance, and are used by many to establish an “industry standard” for assessing the risk associated with VI. Even when the applicable guidance is clear, work plan revisions are often imposed to accommodate variances requested by different State regulators among different regional offices. To make matters more complex, North Carolina is currently consolidating their three program VI guidance documents into one “Division-Wide” (i.e. Division of Waste Management) document for consistency. This document is currently scheduled to be ready in March 2012. At the same time, however, EPA is considering changes that will make thevapor intrusion pathway even more stringent, which will effect current VI guidance efforts at the State level.

Vapor intrusion imparts liability concerns on a number of entities - property owners (past, current and future), consultants conducting site assessments, developers, banks/lenders, and insurance companies. If you are developing a site or already own a property that has been or could be impacted by subsurface contamination, a VI assessment may be in your future.Even sites that had been closed (or are in the process of being closed) may be reopened because the regulatory mechanisms to previously close out sites did not consider VI or used standards that underestimated the VI risk.
The only constant in the VI arena over the next several years will be more change, and testing of more sites will be necessary to address VI concerns. We encourage all of our clients to carefully consider the impacts that VI may have on current properties or future property transactions.
If vapor intrusion is a concern to you, please contact Rob Hill (rhill@MAAonline.com) or Jeff Tyburski (jtyburski@MAAonline.com ) at 800-486-7568.


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