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Due diligence regarding environmental liability is essential for businesses and lenders desiring to manage risk when purchasing or leasing property.  Throughout the region, Western Plains Consulting (WPC) staff are recognized professionals in environmental property assessments and risk management.  We follow ASTM’s latest standard and the EPA’s AAI requirements, and we can be counted on to meet the unique requirements of clients and lenders.  WPC’s staff meets and exceeds the requirements for “Qualified Environmental Professional,” "Certified Mold Inspectors", and "Certified Asbestos Inspectors."

Environmental Due Diligence (EDD) is a critical component of property transfers and financing.  The cost of correcting environmental problems on property can far exceed its value.  WPC has EDD risk management solutions.  WPC is experienced working with issues unique to industrial, commercial, agricultural, trust and residential properties. Our staff is involved with the ASTM in development of guidelines and have served as trainers on the subject at the local, state and national levels.

Project Examples:

-  10-Mile Corridor, Highway Construction Project, North Dakota.  WPC conducted a Phase I assessment along a planned highway construction project corridor through a developed metro area.  The corridor included 3 Superfund sites, 26 hazardous waste generators, 79 underground tank sites, and 3 dumps.  Our assessment provided valuable information related to the routing of the corridor and satisfied FHA and DOT requirements.

- Strip Mall, North Dakota.  WPC conducted a Phase I assessment on a strip mall property, which included a lube shop in one area and a closed gas station in another.  Records showed the gas station had been closed for several years, and the underground tanks were removed with regulatory oversight.  The seller and potential buyer decided to contract with WPC to conduct a Phase II subsurface assessment to ensure that no contamination was present.  It revealed that significant petroleum contamination remained under the property.  Consultation with regulators, the seller, and the buyer resulted in a determination of 'no further action required.'

- Environmental Assessment on a Complex Site  A large bulk oil packing and redistribution facility experienced a devastating fire and releasing thousands of gallons of petroleum products, lubricants and antifreeze. A Phase I Assessment was required by their financial institution during the reconstruction process. To evaluate potential liabilities, additional effort was devoted to regulatory research and personal interviews with on-site fire cleanup crews and inspectors. The data revealed that, while the regulatory officials were not requiring additional remedial activities at the site.  Some subsurface contamination had been left in place. The potential environmental liability could not be established because the quality and types of products involved and the extent of the contamination had not been documented. A Phase II Assessment with subsurface sampling was recommended.

- Environmental Due Diligence Review  Western Plains was requested by a large financial institution to review a two-year-old Phase I Environmental Assessment Report performed by a major environmental consulting firm in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The assessment was of a large meat processing facility. The client was provided with this report by the new owners, who felt a third-party review was in order. Western Plains identified several concerns and omissions in the original report.  For example, it did not mention the facility’s inclusion on the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory List nor was it flagged for a Formal EPA Compliance Violation. The report also failed to note the status of large refrigerator buildings or potential hazards of the coolant used. It mentioned that one building was not accessed because the basement was filled with standing water at the time of reconnaissance, but did not provide any additional details. Most importantly, it did not address the ASTM standard requiring findings and conclusions on identified potential liabilities. Western Plains worked with the client to identify the current potential liabilities and strategies to ensure that potenial problems had been adequately addressed and managed.

Phase II Assessments  are done to confirm or refute suspect conditions, such as soil and groundwater impacts from industrial releases, underground storage tanks or old dumps. Phase II Assessments can include ongoing groundwater monitoring projects.  WPC has worked on a large variety of contaminated and potentially contaminated sites.  Contaminants have ranged from petroleum products to saline water, and from pesticides to fertilizers.  Some projects have involved complex situations, involving multiple chemicals, multiple sources, and unknown compounds.

Commercial properties can contains asbestos, lead-based paint, hazardous material, mold and/or other indoor air quality issues. WPC maintains staff with Industrial Hygiene, Indoor Air Quality and Mold experience. Our staff is comprised of inspectors certified in the following areas:  mold, asbestos, lead and hazardous materials. Our professionals are available to address your concerns and to provide guidance on how to solve these hazards. 

Project Examples:

- Gas Station and Restaurant Contamination, North Dakota.  WPC responded to an emergency situation where gasoline was entering the basement of a restaurant through the sumps.  Volatile Organic Vapor levels were excessive.  The suspected source was leaking underground storage tanks at an adjacent gas station.  The project required immediate management of the vapor intrusion at the restaurant and a subsurface assessment.  An oil/water separation system was modified to collect groundwater, and a unique venting system was devised to monitor and remove vapors from the building.  The emergency was controlled and the restaurant was able to resume operating safely.

- Salvage Yard, North Dakota. WPC conducted a subsurface assessment at a large salvage facility that had experienced a major fire.  The facility included battery, lead, and aluminum recycling equipment, as well as acres of burned vehicles.  Soil testing found that the intense heat of the fire had volatilized the majority of the hazardous materials and created very little residual subsurface contamination.  Other than surface cleanup, regulators required no further action.

- Brownfield Project, eastern North Dakota.  WPC conducted a Phase II assessment after responding to concerns about possible contamination of two vacant properties that had been used as potato storage facilities for many years.  Through Brownfield funding, WPC collected samples in buildings and soils that were analyzed for various potential contaminants.  Based on WPC's findings, the properties were made available for redevelopment.

- Petroleum Product Release from a Gas Station.  WPC performed a subsurface assessment searching for leaked petroleum products from a station in a small North Dakota town. The facility lost over 30,000 gallons of gasoline from a faulty valve at a fueling island. The product had reached an underlying coal deposit (within 14 to 16 feet of land surface) and had moved out over 2,000 feet over a few months. WPC's initial soil boring/groundwater assessment included 32 borings, 11 wells and 13 vapor monitoring wells. Collected data was used to define the extent of the release. The ND Department of Health (NDDH) directed additional activities at the Site.

Phase II Assessment of Crude Oil Release.  WPC was retained by an oil-field company to perform a Phase II subsurface assessment of a crude oil release at a transfer station in western North Dakota. The spill occurred was on land leased from the US Forest Service. WPC, working with the US Forest Service, conducted a series of soil borings around the bulk tanks, screened the soils for volatile organic vapors and collected samples for laboratory analysis.  WPC's report, documenting impacts to soils and a coal seam on-site, was submitted to the NDDH and the U.S. Forest Service. A remediation plan was put into place with WPC performing follow-up installation, and monitoring.  Final analysis confirmed that the remediation was successfully reducing the contamination.

WPC staff is experienced with Indoor Air Quality and Mold Surveys. Why would you need these services? Do you have staff, customers, employees, or family members with stuffy noses, headaches, or allergic reactions? The problem could be poor indoor air quality. The EPA says that indoor air quality is generally worse than outdoor air. They state that over 50% of the problems stem from inadequate ventilation. Problems can also be due to tighter buildings that don’t breathe, water damage that has led to mold growth, various chemical vapors in the air,  and many other sources.  WPC provides scientifically-based assessments following the latest EPA, NIOSH, and ACGIH guidelines, as well as independent third-party evaluation and testing after project remediation.

Project Examples:

- Office Suite, North Dakota. WPC was contracted to assess the indoor air quality in an office suite that was part of a larger office complex during the winter. The tenants had employees with health complaints and they suspected mold overgrowth was the cause. A walk-through was conducted, as well as screening with hand-held meters for moisture, gases and particle levels.  Samples were collected and analyzed by a laboratory for specific airborne particles including mold spores.  The findings showed elevated carbon dioxide levels.WPC recommended immediate increase of fresh air exchanges and assessment of the heating/cooling system by a certified specialist.

- Private Residence, North Dakota. WPC was contracted to assess the indoor air quality in a private residence because of an occupant illness.  The assessment included a walkthrough, screening with handheld meters, and sample collection.  An occupant mentioned that moldy building materials had been removed from a bathroom by the owner.  The results found inadequate air exchanges in the residence. An even greater concern was the discovery of excessive quantities of mold spores still present in the bathroom.  In addition, the "do-it-yourself" remediation attempt had spread excessive mold spores into other portions of the building. WPC made recommendations for further action and management to alleviate the hazards. 


We have certified mold inspectors on staff, including Lila Marquart, who is also the past chair of the EIA’s National Indoor Air Quality Committee. WPC is experienced with large, complex air quality projects. In response to past catastrophic flooding in North Dakota, WPC has prepared videos about safety and mold cleanups which aired in the State and on-line. WPC is also available to discuss mold and other indoor air quality issues with the public.