When you’re working on a construction project or running a facility with hazardous chemicals, it’s best to prepare for the unexpected – but where do you start? At Tioga, our professionals are here for you when the unexpected occurs. We can prepare you for unforeseen hiccups, guide you through federal paperwork and state requirements, and provide a helping hand when you need it most, particularly in an environmental emergency.
When it comes to environmental concerns, there are protocols and processes to follow that, with the right guidance, can help you maintain compliance with environmental laws and minimize further impact and disturbance to the surrounding environment. Here, we answer some common questions about potential site hazards. Bookmark this page on the off-chance you experience an environmental emergency or unexpected discovery.
What happens if I have a hazardous material spill or locate a hazardous material on my property?
If you have a hazardous material spill, the first step is to contain it and keep it from spreading outside of the immediate area. Surround it with absorbent berms or straw bales, then cover it with more absorbent materials like oil dry or sawdust. Try to contain the spill in as small of an area as possible. The more it spreads, the more expensive and difficult it is to clean up.
In the case of drums or containers filled with unknown substances, do not touch them! Instead, call someone, such as Tioga’s environmental consultants, to characterize them for disposal. There are reporting requirements specific to the type of material located in the spill. We also recommend ground sampling to document the substance removal to ensure it’s complete and sufficient.
What do I do if I locate an underground storage tank on my site?
If a UST is found during construction or excavation, stop immediately. Do not remove the tank. The regulatory status of the tank must be determined in order to understand the closure requirements. The tank can be removed or closed legally and correctly with the oversight of an environmental consultant.
Learn about a UST on a project site of which we supervised its removal.
I bought a building constructed prior to 1978. What tests do I need to conduct, and what hazards do I need to look out for to make sure my property is up to code?
Lead-based paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978., but widespread federal regulations banning asbestos in building materials were not put into law until the mid-1980s. Because of this discrepancy, some products were still allowed to contain asbestos as long as there are no new uses or applications. This means any owner or potential buyer of a building constructed during this time frame or earlier should include a hazardous materials survey for lead-based paint, asbestos and other miscellaneous materials during the due diligence process or prior to performing any renovation or demolition project. If asbestos, lead-based paint or other hazardous materials are disturbed, it could significantly impact budgeting and planning related to redevelopment projects.
How do I ensure the workers on my job site and future occupants aren't breathing in pollutants?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established a wide variety of regulations and testing requirements related to worker and occupant exposure to hazardous respirable pollutants. A combination of work practices, protective equipment measures, engineering controls and exposure monitoring through air sampling are utilized to document exposure and protect inhabitants from being exposed to pollutants in the building.
Industrial Hygiene assessments are often performed to assess worker/occupant exposure and safety protocols. IH assessments document current exposure and provide solutions to mitigate workplace exposure to hazardous respirable pollutants. There's a waterway near my project site.
What do I need to do to ensure we're in compliance with regulations before we begin design and construction?
The first step is to have an Aquatic Resources Delineation performed to determine if the waterway is regulated federally or by the state. If you are in Tennessee, this must be performed by a Qualified Hydrologic Professional, and good news for you, Tioga has QHPs on staff! Once you know the waterway’s designation, you can determine what to do with the property and how that might impact the stream or wetland.
If you experience an environmental emergency or discover a potential environmental hazard on a project site, contact us at 901-791-2432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.