Continued from article 1 of this series “What’s the big deal about Dry Cleaners

So the buyer completed their Phase I, earned their Bona Fide Purchaser Defense to shield against a lawsuit from EPA, knows the site held a dry cleaner, yet still has an interest in the property. How do they determine if they should walk or buy? Their next step is a Phase II; our clients depend on Compliance Technologies to develop and provide scientific data that clarifies the risk associated with the property to future occupants and the expenses that may occur as a result of remediating or maintaining a polluted site.

Risk = Human Health + ?


The Phase II process is an intrusive investigation into the area underlying the building and/or property. Current industry standards suggest checking for Vapor Intrusion into the building. PCE readily gives off gases that accumulate under the concrete slab of a building. These gases then leak through cracks and expansion cuts into the airspace of the building thereby creating potential human health risks due to inhalation of the PCE gases by occupants (future employees of the site).

To determine the risks with a Phase II, underground utilities are located, and a technician drills a number of holes in an appropriate area of the concrete slab into which are placed stainless steel tubes or “pins”. These pins become ports through which to collect sub-slab soil gas samples over an 8-hour period. Indoor air and outdoor air samples are also taken to present comparative data. The sub-slab and other air samples are then sent to a lab for analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOC).

The lab analysis report details the presence of any VOC to parts-per-billion levels! CTI’s staff scientists and engineers review this data using USEPA VI screening and OEPA Response Action models to determine the level of risk. These models predict if cancer risk exists as well as provide guidance on response needed within a certain timeframe for any chemicals (VOC) identified. In this example, our prospective buyer finds that the sub-slab and indoor air samples suggest that human risk is present from contamination below the facility.

But it’s a great property because of the location! What will our buyer do next?