Fun Fact Friday: Environmental Site Assessments

Fun Fact Friday: Environmental Site Assessments

Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) are procedures which have been developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to evaluate environmental issues at a real estate site. These assessments are usually performed when land is changing ownership or usage, but are also occasionally performed for an existing property owner who wants to know the toxic history of the property, or if a regulatory agency suspects toxic conditions on the site.

Environmental Site Assessments are usually performed as part of due diligence requirements. These requirements are regular parts of corporate law. Additionally, these assessments help protect potential property owners. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) holds land owners, lessors, and lenders to be responsible for resolving environmental issues, even if the hazards were the result of activities from a previous property owner. This makes an ESA critical in ensuring that a potential new property does not provide an unexpected risk of liability for decontamination.

A Phase I ESA is a quick, simple, noninvasive report used for the identification of potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities for real estate properties. This assessment is completed by reviewing records, completing a surface-level site inspection, and interviewing owners, occupants, neighbors, and local government officials. The goal of a Phase I ESA is to determine the likelihood that any Recognized Environmental Concerns (RECs) are present, which may then be further investigated through a Phase II ESA. The RECs could be contamination from activities which took place on site or contamination from adjacent properties. Essentially, the Phase I ESA is intended to determine the history of the property and ensure that there are no obvious concerns.

The Phase II ESA is a more invasive assessment which requires collection and testing of soil, groundwater samples, and/or building materials. While the Phase I ESA is more purposed to determine presence or absence of environmental concerns, the purpose of a Phase II ESA is to determine the scale and details of the discrepancies found by the Phase I investigation. This phase of investigation can take a significant amount of time to allow for sampling and testing, as well as any monitoring activities deemed necessary by the Phase I results.

While a Phase II investigation is not always required, performing a Phase II ESA is a good practice, especially for those considering purchasing real estate. Without a Phase II ESA, it is possible that environmental hazards on the property could go unnoticed, and the cost of dealing with removing those hazards often greatly outweighs the cost of the Phase II ESA. This makes the examination extremely helpful in allowing potential real estate buyers to fully understand the liabilities of the property before they make their purchasing decision.

Environmental Site Assessments are unique in their ability to allow property owners and buyers to make more knowledgeable decisions. These activities can prevent massive liabilities for buyers and allow property owners to catch potential problems before they cause massive damage or become harder to resolve.

Encorus Group provides a variety of environmental services, including Phase I and Phase II ESAs. If you need Environmental Site Assessment services, contact Encorus’s Geologist, Andrew Kucserik, at 716.592.3980 ext. 149. or akucserik@encorus.com.

Fun Fact Friday: Pressure Vessels and Their Uses

Fun Fact Friday: Pressure Vessels and Their Uses

A pressure vessel is a specially designed container which holds liquids, vapors, or gases at substantially high pressures. These vessels are often used in the petroleum refining and chemical processing industries, but can also be used in the private sector. The term pressure vessel applies to anything subjected to a notable amount of pressure, and includes everything from massive industrial chemical storage tanks, to home hot water tanks, and individual diving cylinders such as scuba tanks, among other things. Some pressure vessels are exposed to external heat sources, either directly or indirectly, and are known as fired pressure vessels. Those not exposed to external heat are known as unfired pressure vessels. However, no matter the size, type, or use, safety regulation is a critical feature in the production and maintenance of a pressure vessel.

Pressure vessels are usually subjected to pressures of at least 15 psig, and often significantly higher, with many vessels exceeding 1000 psig.
Because of this, the vessels must be designed to withstand intense internal pressure without failure, as failure could result in fatal or otherwise costly accidents, including poison gas leaks, fires, suffocations, and even shrapnel-generating explosions. Additionally, failure can cause massive loss of product and affect profits and a company’s ability to operate. In order to better withstand high pressure, coded pressure vessels are often spherical or cylindrical in nature with rounded edges to avoid focusing pressure at any one point. Many vessels are made of steel, and depending on the conditions in the area the vessel will be operating, some are made of composite materials or polymers.

Most pressure vessels are designed to include safety features. Smaller vessels are often created with a “yield before break” design, which allows them to bend or flex before any crack forms or grows in size. Larger vessels are often created with a “leak before burst” which allows for a crack in the vessel to grow and allow the contained substance to escape slowly rather than in one violent, explosive failure. While ideally neither of these situations would occur, having a plan in place to mitigate damages in cases when they cannot be completely prevented is an invaluable safety tool.

Pressure vessels must be constructed and inspected in accordance with any applicable regulatory codes and standards. For the industrial sector, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME, publishes and maintains an International Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code that establishes acceptable margins of safety for this equipment. The ASME Section VIII documents explain in detail the guidelines recommended for ensuring safety. Another important code for ensuring the safety of pressure vessels is API 510, which is a code for the inspection, rating, repair, and alteration of in-service pressure vessels.

Encorus Group offers both design and inspection of pressure vessels. Contact Dana Pezzimenti, PE, for matters pertaining to pressure design at 716.592.3980, ext. 128 or dpezzimenti@encorus.com. If you have inspection needs for a pressure vessel, contact Keith Taylor, Encorus’s Director of Mechanical Integrity, at 716.592.3980, ext. 143 or ktaylor@encorus.com.

A special thank you goes out to our summer intern, Mara Gilmartin, for contributing this article.

Encorus Among Western New York’s Ten Fastest Growing Companies

Encorus Among Western New York’s Ten Fastest Growing Companies

Encorus Group was honored to receive its fourth consecutive Buffalo Business First Fast Track Award in a ceremony earlier this month.  Encorus ranked seventh on the list, up from number 16 last year, with revenue growth of 104.32%.  Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to our clients and our employees for keeping us on the fast track to growth!

Fun Fact Friday: ASME NQA-1 Quality Assurance Program

Fun Fact Friday: ASME NQA-1 Quality Assurance Program

Encorus is proud to offer guaranteed reliability through our established American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Nuclear Quality Assurance Program (NQA-1).

Lindse Runge, one of Encorus’s Quality Assurance Technicians, gives some insight regarding what the NQA-1 Program is, what she does, and what type of clients would benefit from the program. NQA-1 is a nuclear quality assurance standard for nuclear facilities in the U.S. It relates to the design, construction and operation of such sites, and is a highly-regarded industry standard. ASME NQA-1 was created and is maintained by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). This standard provides requirements and guidelines for the establishment and execution of quality assurance programs during siting, design, construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear facilities. This standard reflects industry experience and current understanding of the quality assurance requirements necessary to achieve safe, reliable, and efficient utilization of nuclear energy, and management and processing of radioactive materials. The standard focuses on the achievement of results, emphasizes the role of the individual and line management in the achievement of quality, and fosters the application of these requirements in a manner consistent with the relative importance of the item or activity.

Lindse’s responsibilities include enforcing and implementing the requirements of Encorus’s QA program, developing / revising documents as required to comply with customer QA requirements and ASME NQA-1 requirements, reviewing customer purchase orders for QA requirements in order to develop plans to implement requirements throughout the project, reviewing Encorus purchase orders for QA requirements to ensure flow-down of customer requirements, participating in audits and surveys, and maintaining project files and documentation to ensure legibility, revision control, and traceability of records.

Encorus has a Quality Assurance Program that conforms to NQA-1 requirements to allow us to supply items and services to nuclear facilities. Clients that would benefit from an NQA-1 Program include the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, nuclear constructors, nuclear fabricators, and nuclear power plants.

If you think you would benefit from Encorus Group’s NQA-1 Program, please contact Quality Assurance Technician Lindse Runge at (716) 592-3980 ext 137 or lrunge@encorus.com.

Welcome Sindy Tang!

Welcome Sindy Tang!

Please join us in welcoming Sindy Tang to Encorus’s Design Group! Sindy recently graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from University at Buffalo, and will be joining Encorus Group as an Electrical Engineer. Welcome, Sindy!