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BINDING ARBITRATION, SOURCE INVESTIGATION & REMEDIATION

IST’s confidential client (Respondent) owned and operated a retail truck stop facility in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from approximately 1985 until December 1993, when the site was sold to the Claimant, who has operated the facility since. The Respondent retained limited remediation responsibility for pretransactional conditions. Prior to December 1993 and between December 1993 and 1997, light non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) was detected in a limited number of monitoring wells at the site. In 1997, 9 feet of LNAPL were detected in a monitoring well, near the existing operational dispenser island and associated underground storage tank field at the site. In April 2000, LNAPL was detected on a tributary to a nearby creek.

Background:
IST was initially involved in remediation at the site on behalf of the Respondent and was ultimately engaged to investigate the source and probable release date for an occurrence of LNAPL on a creek tributary. The source and release date were points of disagreement between IST’s client and the current facility owner.
Effective remediation of the site that includes more than 4 acres impacted by LNAPL (delineated by gauging of over 40 groundwater monitoring wells) demanded a rigorous understanding of the source(s) and transport mechanisms underlying the site. Thus, sophisticated fracture transport analysis was necessary to design the site’s remediation system. Additionally, the fracture transport analysis was essential to physically locate the source and to identify the likely timing of a release from the source location. Detailed research into historical site configuration, operations, and engineering modifications was required to determine the source.
Research into historical operations and subsequent assessment and pipeline removal activity indicated substantial leakage from a series of underground fuel lines installed by the current owner. IST photographed leakage and holes in these lines upon their removal and also conducted probable release volume calculations for comparison with detailed fuel inventory reconciliation and review of fuel storage system testing records. This additional research was necessary to settle the disagreement over whether the fuel in the creek was related to the new release or to the pre-existing release.
The efficacy of the different transport routes was also a highly contested issue between IST’s client and the present site owner. To enhance the transport understanding and evaluate the time of travel in the subsurface system, sophisticated forensic chemistry was employed to date the LNAPL. During the forensic analysis, historical sulfur concentrations of diesel fuel became an important tool to predict travel time. Because low sulfur fuel became mandatory in 1993, LNAPL samples were used to distinguish the relative date of release. Together, identification of the leak source as a posttransactionally installed fuel line and clear determination of the LNAPL migration route from that source to the creek, combined with the fuel sulfur chemisty indicating post-1993 low sulfur fuel made a strong case that the impact was caused by leakage postdating the property transaction.
Additional Projects

IST's Solution:

The Outcome:
The case was heard by an American Arbitration Association arbitrator in binding proceedings. The Claimant and Respondent provided fact and expert testimony through 26 witnesses (four were IST personnel). The arbitrator denied the Claimant’s $100 plus million claim for remediation costs and required the Claimant to assume full responsibility for site remediation activities and to release the Respondent from liability for costs to complete the expanded remedial action. The Claimant was required to pay Respondent for completed remedial activities deemed the Claimant’s responsibility. Analysis presented by IST was pivotal to the final decision.
Site: Retail Truck Stop Facility, Pennsylvania, USA
Environmental Concern: LNAPL source and probable release date investigation and remediation
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