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Clearwater Group

Expertise in Environmental, Resource, and Sustainability Consulting

Expert Consulting Services

Second Opinion

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Second opinions are used to evaluate progress toward project goals and milestones.  Sometimes the opinions are used to provide a financial basis for mineral resources such as coal, oil or natural gas deposits or production potential to settle estates or resolve a legal dispute.   Expert opinion reports are compliant with Federal Rule 26(a)(2)(B). 

Litigation Support

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Litigation support services focus on developing accurate information, a consistent time line, a list of all the facts, and a list of data gaps.  Forensic studies are used to develop evidence in complex environmental and engineering cases. Clearwater has performed cost allocation studies for dozens of cases.

Verification Sampling

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 Sampling of groundwater, soil, soil vapor, or indoor air can be part of verification sampling.  Passive soil vapor surveys using U.S. EPA Method TO-17 provide a laboratory analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  The sample modules can be placed on a grid for a rapid property-wide assessment.

Forensic Studies

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 Clearwater performs forensic studies to evaluate environmental, engineering, and construction incidents or events.   In a forensic study, the incident (a spill, an accident, a catastrophic event) is the starting point, and the project looks to put the event in context, supported with consultant reports, laboratory data, and other normally obtained environmental information.   Sometimes verification sampling will occur as part of a forensic study.

Cost Allocation

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Cost allocation projects look at allowability, allocability, and reasonableness.  The cost allocation projects compare the contracts, the actual work performed, the invoices, the regulatory notes and documents, to determine whether all expenses were required by the regulatory agency and the costs are reasonable and necessary.  Clearwater relies on almost three decades of experience as a licensed contractor (CSLB# 799370; General Engineering (A), Building (B), Well Drilling (C-57), Haz-Mat, and Asbestos Removal.

Technical Workshops

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Technical classes from stormwater training related to the stormwater pollution prevention plans (QSD/QSP/QISD) are offered by Clearwater Group, taught by a Trainer of Record (ToR).  Other classes include the 8-hour OSHA Safety Training Refresher, the 8-hour OSHA Supervisor Class, and the 40-hour OSHA Haz-Mat Class.  Industry-specific training includes  environmental and safety aspects for mining operations, oil and gas activities (including hydraulic fracturing) and wastewater treatment processing.

Sewage Spills, Water Issues and USTs/ASTs

Sewer Spill Assessment

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The detection of chemicals as well as indicator bacteria and genetic markers using  polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are used to identify the extent  of human or animal fecal pollution sources of untreated sewage.  Commonly occurring in urban areas during extreme rainfall events and flooding, the extent of sewage releases can now be characterized quickly.  For animal feedlots, pond liner assessment and stormwater control can be part of environmental compliance.

Sewer Air / Vapor Intrusion

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Sewer air testing and exposure pathway evaluation has been largely overlooked as a source of volatile 

organic compound (VOCs) and biological toxins potentially impacting indoor air and human health.  Although vapor barriers have been developed in crawl spaces and basements, compromised sewer-plumbing systems have been shown in some cases to allow VOCs to enter indoor air.

Water Supply

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 Basin analysis and water supply assessments are a key part of resource planning.  Surface and groundwater supply, monitoring and basin mapping are best done with reliable data.  In some cases, geologic information may be limited to old driller's reports, government reports and databases, and nearby wells and rock outcrops.  Conjunctive use, the placement of treated water into aquifers for storage and later retrieval must evaluate site-specific geochemistry of the treated water and aquifer conditions.

Sewer Mapping / Smoke Tests

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Smoke testing and video inspections of sewer lines and laterals are still used to locate sewer leaks and compromised systems.  Using  Geographic Information System (GIS) Mapping Technology with the information obtained from field inspections and testing, provides for information for prioritizing sewer-lateral repairs and replacement.  

UST and AST Removal

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Underground storage tanks (USTs) and above ground storage tanks (ASTs) continue to be discovered during routine Phase I Environmental Assessments or during redevelopment field work.  Clearwater uses magnetic, induction and geophysical tools such as ground penetrating radar to locate buried USTs. The has removed dozens of USTs since 1990.

On-Site Water Management

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Water management relates to  temporary storage for petroleum hydrocarbon waters from leaking underground storage tanks to liquid and brine storage from flowback fluids from hydraulic fracturing operations.   Recycling operations can increase the sustainability of long-term water use projects.

Construction, Oil & Gas and Mining Projects

Oil & Gas

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 Oil and Gas Lease Valuation and Field Assessment and Cleanup are important topics for land owners, operators, and oil and gas agencies. Lease holdings require valuation for estate settlement purposes or for environmental cleanup obligations as part of a fair market evaluation of oil and gas holdings.  Over the past decade, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has added new petroleum reserves as well as a variety of environmental challenges with associated liabilities.

Mining

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Environmental issues for the mining industry include topics such as permitting, environmental restoration plans and addressing acid mine drainage. Clean water diversion and control is combined with impacted water treatment to minimize environmental footprints of mining operations.  Water control and pyrite-rich rock isolation is part of acid drainage prevention and  is by far the best approach from allowing the microbial process to start.  Controlling acidic runoff in the early stages should be implemented as soon as possible, using passive acid drainage treatment systems, water control, and site restoration plans.

Erosion Control

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 Erosion control, dust control, and stormwater control services are needed during construction and at industrial facilities and at larger construction sites.  Erosion control plans, such as stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPP) includes training of workers to collect stormwater samples, document qualifying stormwater events, and properly installing and maintaining erosion control devices.  Erosion control on hillsides is critical during construction and rebuilding after regional fires.  Documented dust control is also important during earth moving activities for construction projects.

Demolition

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Demolition projects in California require a variety of pre-demolition sampling surveys.  The most common pre-demolition survey is for the presence of asbestos.    The manufacture of lead-based paint  (LBP) was banned in the United States in 1978 due to health concerns.  LBP is common in buildings built prior to the 1970s, with LBP being found in buildings built in 1978 and even later.   Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a dielectric fluid, should be identified and sampled prior to demolition.  PCBs can be found in electrical transformers and in older fluorescent lighting ballasts manufactured through 1979.

Asbestos, Lead, and PCBs

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Asbestos, lead-based paint and PCBs can be assessed during a Phase I Environmental Assessment as part of the scope of work.  These surveys allow for full disclosure by the seller, and possible negotiation related to environmental impacts by the buyer.    Asbestos sampling performed during a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment can be performed by an AHERA Accredited Asbestos Building Inspector.  Demolition asbestos surveys must be conducted by a California Asbestos Consultant (CAC). A lead-based paint (LBP) sampling survey should be performed by a DHS-certified lead inspector.   

PFOS, PFAS, PFOAs

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 Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS),  perfluoroalkyl  and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are fire-fighting foams used since 1940s in fire fighting exercises at military bases and airports.  Some of these products contain key ingredients such as non-stick coatings (Teflon) and stain repellent chemicals (Scotchgard).  There is evidence that these chemicals which are very persistent in the environment and accumulate in the human body, can lead to adverse human health effects.  

Real Estate Transactions and Land Redevelopment

Phase I Assessments

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 Phase I Environmental Assessments and due diligence evaluations are performed to protect both buyers and sellers regarding proper environmental disclosure.  Although current conditions on a redeveloped property may be known, prior property uses and history are investigated during a Phase I Environmental Assessment to confirm possible environmental liabilities.

Phase II Investigations

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 Subsurface investigations for industrial, commercial, agricultural, and military properties help to evaluate human health exposures and the liabilities for the costs of environmental cleanups.  A soil, soil vapor and water sampling rig is used to determine the vertical and lateral extent of a chemical release.

Feasibility Testing

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 Feasibility Studies and Bench Testing are used to evaluate the potential for success for in-situ chemical applications in the laboratory.  The bench tests evaluate reagent volumes, concentrations, contaminant degradation rates and whether unwanted​ reactions occur that could release metals or other toxins into environment as an unintended consequence of applying reagents to the subsurface.

Phase III Remediation

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 Remediation design and implementation using a variety of technologies (extraction, chemical oxidation, bioremediation, and geochemical fixation.  Clearwater has designed and implemented dozens of remedial actions.  Sometimes, a surgical excavation is the least expensive and quickest route to case closure.  Other subsurface technologies are evaluate based on the client's needs, risk exposure pathway analysis, and regulatory requirements for case closure. 

Phase IV Case Closure

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Case closure is the regulatory equivalent of crossing the finish line.  Closure may require notification of neighbors, final confirmation sampling, removal of remediation equipment and proper destruction of monitoring wells.  A final report is frequently required summarizing the site history, residual contamination left in place, data gaps, exposure pathways and justification for case closure.  Clearwater has produced hundreds of case closure documents.

Continuing Obligations

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Continuing environmental obligations can be required, especially if significant soil or groundwater contamination is left in place. Deed restrictions, vapor barriers, soil management plans and other methods to communicate the environmental hazards may be required by regulatory agencies, especially in cases of redevelopment or change of use.