Curren Environmental Blog

David C Sulock

Recent Posts

Successful Oil Tank Removal - Avoid Tank Problems

Posted by David C Sulock on Jun 6, 2017 9:57:36 AM

Keep in mind that if have an oil tank you need removed, this will most likely be a he only time in your life you will ever have to deal with something like this.  Odds are against you making the best decision regarding removing the underground tank, which is why we have devised this handy tank removal reference guide.   The following information regarding tank removal are a cumulation of 20 years of tank removal experience and speaking to people who had their tank removed and their decision making regret.

Google oil tank leak and you will see some scary web pages. If you are selling a property with a tank and don't you think it's an issue, realize your buyers are reading these pages and they know an oil tank can be an issue.

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 Here are important oil tank removal fact.

  1. Most oil tanks do not leak.
  2. Most oil tanks that leak do not require expensive remediation and can be addressed by testing.
  3. Every state allows a permissible amount of oil to remain in the ground.

Few if any tank removal firms will tell you these facts.

Tank removals while not cheap can cost between $1200.00 and $2,000.00 on average.  Remediation of leaking oil tanks can cost $10,000.00, $16,000.00, $40,000.00 dollars or more.  Do I have your attention?  Many firms will suck you in with a competitive price on tank removal and then whack you with a bill to remediate the leaking oil tank.   Many people call our office after their tank is removed and after they get an outrageous proposal to remediate.   These tank remediation quotes appear on the same day as tank removal or within a few days and are 90% of the time baseless money grabs.  

Google oil tank removal and you will see some slick web pages, not as scary by any means as the tank leak search. These pages have happy people, testimonials and some sales oriented content. You may be swayed by the nice web pages or even that the company is LOCAL.   Local has nothing to do with an oil tank removal, you probably have a few pizza shops close by and one is your favorite.  Proximity to your property is not like a pizza shop, good environmental companies are not known to be as popular as pizza shops.  Contract with these firms and if your tank has any remote evidence of leaking, you will regret your choice of contracting.  Here is why. 

I had no indication that my tank was leaking and the company I hired agreed.

Big, big trouble is brewing in this sentence.  I would hope that no one wishes ill will on anyone, but let us look at an oil tank leak as a possibility based on the following.

Oil tanks do not last forever and on average a tank lifespan is between 20 and 30 years.

Age of tank.   If your oil tank is the original oil tank for the house and it is older than 30 years, well it has outlasted the refrigerator, washer, dryer, roof, ect. It is most likely the oldest replaceable fixture in the dwelling that was NEVER REPLACED.   So can we agree there is a CHANCE the oil tank maybe leaking?  Just a chance.   If your answer is yes, well should a brief conversation occur about the oil tank leak scenario?  If yes, then the what if my oil tank leaks discussion should be written into your oil tank removal contract, so you know what steps will occur in the event of a leak.   Trust me the answer is yes and your proposal like so many we see will not have the language in there and you are setting yourself up for problems. 

 Soil samples.  You do not want them because soil sampling is not required by law, you do not want to test because you do not want to find a problem.  I mean who wants to go to the doctor, you know the doctor is going to find something wrong.  Soil sampling after a tank is removed is 100% important and not sampling is the biggest mistake you can make. 

Remember the google search for oil tank leak?   Well how are you going to certify the tank did not without testing?   Perhaps you think the township will inspect and certify the tank did not leak?  Wrong their job is a construction inspection, remember they are not licensed to remove an oil tank, the company you hired is licensed and they hold the burden to certify the work. 

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How do we certify that a tank did not leak?  

Not by looking at it, believe it or not.  No one knows your cholesterol level without blood work, there are marathon runners that have heart disease, healthy looking people get cancer, my point is looks can be deceiving you cannot look at an oil tank and be 100% certain the tank did or did not leak.   Please do not tell me you will be able to tell if the tank leaked because you are going to look for black oil in the ground, because everyone knows that is how you can tell, WRONG.   The tank is not the Beverly hillbillies, heating oil is not black its dyed red.  (Google it, heating oil is red, no lie).

Back to soil testing, hey if you were buying a house with an oil tank that was removed, wouldn't you want testing completed and a report certifying the tank did not leak?  If you don't care, leave this web page, go play words with friends, understanding the pitfalls of oil tank removal are not your topic of interest. 

Soil testing protects you from unscrupulous tank removal firms that would remove your tank, show you a hole in the tank after removal, show this hole to the construction official, report you to the state and give you a cost to remediate, which is many times more expensive than the tank removal and more profitable for the removal company.

 

Here is the short story of a property where a tank was removed, the tank was found to be leaking and got a quote 

1.Oil tank was removed.

2.Property owner want soil testing.

3. Tank removal company says soil testing is a waste of money.

4. Tank removal company has X-ray vision and can just tell that the tank leak is bad and you need remediation, why test?

5. Owner is told testing is expensive, $5,000.00, true story, owner was told why spend the money to test if you know it leaked?

6. Truth, testing of an oil tank, say a 275 to 550 gallon oil tank would cost under $250.00!  Think that money is worth spending?

7. Owner was given a quote to remediate a day after removal.  

At this step in the tank removal, the ownerr felt something did not add up.  Owner brought in another company to test the removed tank area.   Yes contamination was found, but it was with acceptable standards.  

Success tank removal depends on testing, if you test, you could save thousands in unnecessary oil tank remediation.

If you don't test the soil after a tank is removed, the removal company can quote you an expensive remediation, good for them, not for you.

Why are we posting oil tank removal problems, showing you how to be a better consumer of these services, well we remove tanks but we also help people who had their tank removed and we are repeating their stories for your education.   Unethical tank removal firms give all companies a bad name.   To be frank as well, we get a little tired of hearing the same story over and over again.

 Common compliants after a tank is removed?

My oil tank contract was based on the tank not leaking.  It leaked and I am getting billed alot more than the cost of the removal.

My tank had holes when it was removed and I have to remediate.

My leak was reported to the NJDEP AND NOW I HAVE A CASE NMBER.

The removal company said testing wasn't in my contract so they didn't test.

The removal company said testing was a waste of money and I have to remediate.

Environmental company gives a 10k quote to remediate, my house is under contract for sale and I have to clean up the leak or risk losing the buyer.

 

We have been involved with more projects than I care to count that fits those details. Sit down before I tell you what we find at these sites.

Close to 80% of the time, we find little to no oil in the ground or we find that oil levels are within acceptable levels, meaning no expensive remediation.

The other 20% of the time, well yes, remediation was necessary but sadly, not to the extent they were quoted.

 Do you have questions we didnt answer?   Common oil tank question and answer can be found at Residential Heating Oil Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 Want to speak to a live person call up MOnday to FRiday 8:00 am to 5:30 pm Esatern Standard time at 856-858-9509

Tags: NJDEP oil tank removal grant, oil tank removal new jersey, tank removal, tank leak

It's Opening Day for Mosquitoes...

Posted by David C Sulock on May 25, 2017 6:29:28 PM

Memorial Day marks an official start of summer with a three-day weekend and a guaranteed opportunity to be outside. It is also an opening for mosquitoes to feed, and the longer you are outside the more likely this will occur, particularly in the early mornings and evenings. 

In today world where speakers talk back and cell phones allow a constant connection to information, people are becoming less tolerant to inconvenience and mosquitoes tops the list this time of year.    People are becoming more used to hearing about Mosquito Remediation as a service they can rely on to take back their yards.

Mosquito remediation, mosquito extermination or mosquito control are all descriptions on the management of these pests.   Science has allowed us too safely and effectively reduce the mosquito population in a given area by utilizing barrier sprays that help knockdown current populations and lower future population growth.   These sprays are proven to help keep you outside without the bothersome biting.

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Mosquito control (mosquito remediation) barrier sprays outperform the tradition of masking your scent that is attempted with citronella candles, garlic spray, scented oils and flowers meant to ward off mosquitoes.   By applying a barrier to your surroundings as opposed to your person (have you ever read the warning label on DEET containing lotions?) you stop the mosquitoes before they bite.

In today's environment, backyards are considered an extension of the house and people want to be comfortable wherever they are.  The familiar pain and itch after being bitten by a mosquito is an annoying part of being outside and drives many people indoors or even to apply chemicals to their person to ward off mosquitoes.

Mornings and evenings when the temperatures are cooler are those times that mosquitoes come out to pray.   Mosquitoes, due to their size (a whopping 2 millimeters), dislike the heat of the day  (the Asian tiger mosquito is the exception) and stay out of the sun or else they could bake and dry out. Mosquitoes are engineered to reproduce at large quantities, with the female being the only one that actually bites.  Females need blood to lay their eggs, your blood, and the blood from dogs, cats, any blood helps these females reproduce.  These blood meals are also what makes mosquitoes a vector of disease -  as a mosquito will feed off several hosts (you,  your friend, even the friend of the friend you don’t even know) for a blood meal increasing the chance of transmitting disease which each person bitten.How do you combat mosquitoes?  Mosquito control or in the industry mosquito remediation is how you  manage mosquitoes. 

Mosquito remediation, mosquito extermination or mosquito control are all descriptions on the management of these pests.   Science has allowed us too safely and effectively reduce the mosquito population in a given area by utilizing barrier sprays that help knockdown current populations and lower future population growth.   These sprays are proven to help keep you outside without the bothersome biting.                     Shed.jpg

Years of remediation experience has helped Curren Environmental utilize the principals of soil an groundwater remediation to mosquito remediation. Like any successful approach you must apply the solution to appropriately to be effective.  This means applying a micro encapsulated barrier spray (low dose, think teaspoon) insecticide with copious amounts of water applied via a precision misting blower to areas where mosquitoes go and humans do not.  

The secret is in the sauce.  The micro encapsulated formula makes water wetter and allows a broad-spectrum coating to be applied to knockdown mosquitoes and provide long-term (3-week) effectiveness until the next application is performed.

Don’t be scared out of your back yard by mosquitoes this summer season.  Control and knockdown mosquitoes by using mosquito remediation.  Learn more with Curren Environmental and enjoy your yard this memorial day and throughout the summer and into the fall seasons.

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Tank Scans & Tank Sweeps

Posted by David C Sulock on Apr 4, 2017 9:10:00 AM

Oil Tank Sweeps,  Tank Scans, GPR, Groud Penetrating Radar...

The liability associated Underground Heating Oil Tanks (USTs) is fairly well known to most buyers and sellers nowadays, but our office still gets calls regarding why a tank scan should be performed.   We explain that historically home heating oil has been stored in Underground Storage Tanks (UST’s). Homes built in the early 1900’s to around the mid 1990’s are most likey at risk to having a buried oil tank.  When tanks leak, homeowners can face environmental regulations originally written with businesses in mind, not residential homeowners.  Property owners can face cleanup costs in the thousands of dollars, and find their homes difficult to sell, because banks and mortgage loan companies do not make mortgages on properties with abandoned, untested tanks.  Rust never sleeps and Underground Oil Tanks will not last forever.

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The laws are set that when you own a property you own the problem, the courts have ruled that a current residential property owner with a leaking underground storage tank that was decommissioned or "closed" prior to the property’s purchase is now liable for cleanup costs. The residential real estate market must conduct their due diligence to include inquiry regarding underground storage tanks. You buy the property you buy the problem.

 An oil tank sweep is like a home inspection but is specific to one thing, finding an "undisclosed" buried oil tank. Tank sweeps are becoming more common in the real estate sales process.  Today both sellers and buyers are having tank sweeps performed due to the large concern over leaking tanks.  All anyone has to do is google "oil tank leak" and you will find a plethora of scary web pages, photos and horror stories of tanks leaking and the expensive headache filled experience that ensues.

The internet has made everyone more informed regarding topics that were once only known to professionals.   People now know that when you buy a property you buy the good and the bad with a home.   Good school system, check, safe neighborhood, check, oil tank leak and associated cleanup, check.   You buy a property and don't perform due diligence, you are at fault and responsible for imperfections and repairs to a property.

 

So what is a tank sweep?  There are two types with disparate costs and variable results.

First and most basic is a sweep performed with a metal detector.  These sweeps utilize metal detector that can cost only a thousand dollars and yet the charges to perform a tank sweep with a metal detector range anywhere from $50.00 up to $250.00.   Their low cost is based on the low quality of the sweep and the low cost of the equipment involved.   Metal detector tank sweeps are typically hand stamping a transaction that a tank probable isn't present.   These sweeps while on the surface make sense (buried metal, metal detector should find something), they are a needle in a hay stack.   Geology on any property will have some amount of metal (ferrous metal deposits) naturally occurring, as well as from the development of the site (we have found screws, nails, license plates, buried metal trash..  Buried metal can include buried pipes that service or serviced the property including electric lines, water, sewer, drains, as well as surface metal such as fences, metal used in the home (most tanks are close to the house).   Concrete sidewalks, driveways and patios can have wire mesh or metal rebar in the concrete that can set off a metal detector and give false positives.  All this buried metal is competing for the attention of the metal detector and can give a background reading and can mask the actual tank when encountered. This happens by the buried metal fooling individuals performing a tank sweep to adjust the sensitive of the metal detector due to the detector constantly spiking (beeping) from the background metal on a site.  Therefore, while a metal detector sounds fool proof it is the more foolish of the two options. 

The second type of tank sweep and much more throughout utilizes GPR or ground penetrating radar.   These scans range in costs that are comparable to a home inspection, but utilize specialized equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars.  Gpr is not fooled by buried debris as it utilizes radar as a detection method. Like sonar, radar sends a signal into the ground.  This radar signal can't penetrate buried objects with density such as metal tanks and accordingly when radar finds a tank, the signal is reflected back to the surface where a screen reads a graphical interpretation of the objects.  The signal is best described  as a pyramid reflection.  Pipes return a small pyramid, tanks return a bigger pyramid.

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If you want to get more technical, GPR radiates short pulses of high-frequency EM energy into the ground from a transmitting antenna.  When the EM energy (wave) encounters the interface of two materials having different properties, a portion of the energy is reflected back to the surface. Buried Oil tanks or metal pipes reflect the EM signal back to the surface, indicating a found buried object.   If the signal does not encounter a buried object the EM signals goes deeper into the ground indicating no object found.  The difference between these two readings is what allows a GPR technician to determine a buried object from normal soils. The radar can go through concrete and asphalt.

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So why hire a company like Curren to do a GPR tank scan?  First, we provide turnkey solutions including tank locating, removal testing and remediation.  Our technicians have been involved with tank removal so they are familiar with the various ways a tank system is constructed and thus know what to look for when performing a tank sweep.  When you hire a firm with over 20 years of service experience, you are dealing with a firm that has helped thousands of client. Our repeat customers and referral network is large and a testament to the quality of our service.

Curren completes tank scans with equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars.  The least expensive and reliable are metal detectors.  If you did not know, 85% of oil tanks are within a few feet of the foundation of a house.  Houses have metal, underground pipes have metals, buried metal can be found naturally and by man on any property.  These smaller metal signatures can confuse a metal detector and provide false readings, both when a tank is and is not present.   GPR does not have these limitations. 

Curren Environmental has over 20 years’ experience with tanks and all work is performed in house and by company personnel, this ensures both timely execution of projects as well as cost savings by avoiding subcontracting.  Curren is licensed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).

Tank Sweep Questions?

Inheriting Environmental Problem

Posted by David C Sulock on Feb 16, 2017 9:38:00 AM

Is there an Environmental Issue with your Inherited property?

It always sounds good an inherited property.  You can reap the benefits by keeping the property as your home or selling the property to cash out.  What does not sound good is if this inherited property has an underground oil tank and to top that off, the oil tank leaked.  When you inherit a property, you may be inheriting a property that can be easily sold or holds years of headaches, potential lawsuits and a financial black hole.  How can you protect yourself, first hire an attorney with experience in estates, real estate and environmental issues.  Do not disburse liquid assets in the estate as monies that are available may be needed to manage the property in the form of taxes, utilities, inspections and potential repairs are upgrades requested by a purchaser.   If you have already accepted the inheritance than you just inherited, the problem and you should seek an environmental consultant and an environmental attorney.  The laws state that whoever owns the property owns the problem.  You may choose to do nothing about the oil tank, which can deterr potential purchasers of the property as they may not be able to get a mortgage or insurance with the tank in question.

What should you do before inheriting a property?

First, know that you are not required to accept the inheritance.  You also have the right to have an inspection on the property such a structural review, home inspection, mold inspection and a tank sweep to name a few.  While you are inheriting and not buying the property the adage, buyer beware is still relevant. In cases where you are bequeathed separate items, such as items, cars, cash, stock and jewelry, you can accept one and not the other i.e., you can cherry pick.    You do not have that same luxury as non-liquid assets such as real estate. You cannot take only a part of piece of property.  

Hire an experienced Attorney and Environmental Consultant.

When inheriting a property, be it residential or commercial, you should first consult with an attorney.  Attorneys will advise you regarding Proper Due Diligence prior to acquisition of the property.  Older dilapidated properties as well as newer move in condition properties may have environmental isssues.  The property may have hidden mold (or visble for that manner in an area you are not frequenting like an attic, crawl space, ect.  There may also be there is an underground oil tank or undocumented removed tank. If either mold or tanks are unknown, you need to hire an environmental consultant.  If there is any chance that there was or may still be an oil tank on the property a tank scan should be performed.  A tank scan consists of taking measures to properly scan the property for an oil tank.  The property should be scanned with a Ground Penetrating Radar system.  This system uses a series of radar wave pulses that are directed below ground.  When a solid object is encountered such as a metal tank, the waves are reflected back to the surface with a distinct signature. GPR tends to be more reliable , than a metal detector, as metal detectors are not discriminating and will pick up naturally occurring metal in the ground, metal from buried pipes, metal in the house, fences ect.   The best approach is GPR with a metal detector verification.  If this property is a commercial property you should perform a Phase I, for more information on Phase I click here.

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Did the property have an Underground Oil Tank?

Find out first if there was ever an oil tank located at the property. If the dwelling is older than 1940 or was built in 1940 to 1985, there is a high possibility of an underground oil tank.  Older homes in regards to heat sources started out with wood or coal then moved to oil heating.  Also, 9 times out of 10 if there is an above ground oil tank there probably was an underground oil tank.  You may check with the borough to find out if a permit was provided to take the underground oil tank out of the ground.  But, that permit does not answer the question if the oil tank leaked.  The only answer the permit allows is that there was an underground oil tank and that tank was taken out of the ground.  The borough does not test the soil for any leak from the tank, not do they require it.  Tank removal is a construction activity, tank leaking is environmental and is handled on a state level, not on a local level.

If you do find out that there was an underground oil tank and that said tank was taken from the ground, that environmental company may have taken soil samples to make sure there was no leak.  That environmental company would hopefully, have given the property owner a report on the soil samples and if the tank leaked or did not leak.

If you have no records of any soil samples or soil testing that it is advised to get soil samples done. First you would check the soil for any contamination. In the New Jersey there are regulations of how much contamination can be in located in the soil.  If there is contamination, there may be a need to test the groundwater as well. 

Pertaining to mold, while it is ubiquitous and needed in an ecosystem (it is grass, leaves, mulch, soil), when found inside it is indoor air pollution and a health concern.   Mold needs moisture to grow, which can be supplied not just from water leaks, but also from improper ventilation or lack thereof in a structure.   Mold means you have a water issue, meaning you not only have to remediate the mold but also fix the root cause of the moisture that fuels the growth.  Mold inspections can include visual walking inspections of a site and can include sampling inside to evaluate for hidden mold.  Mold is becoming more and more of a hot issue with homebuyers and must be considered as part of an evaluation before you take possession of a property.

After your due diligence, which can include testing and remediation and review of the findings with your attorney, you will be better prepared in the decision to accept the inherited property.  Remember the estate can pay for these inspections and repairs prior to you acquiring the property. It is also important to consider that long term you will probably sell the property, and when that occurs the buyer will do their due diligence which can include the afore referenced inspections.  Better to ferret out the issues before you own the property.

 

Tags: Estate

First Time Tank Removal

Posted by David C Sulock on Feb 7, 2017 10:15:00 AM

So here's the story...a hired tank removal company was found on the first page of Google, they had the cheapest price.  A tank was found to have a hole after it was removed from the ground.  No evidence of oil contamination was present in the soil, meaning staining or odors of petroleum in the tank grave.  Due to the hole the NJDEP hotline was called and a case number was obtained.   Removal company acquired one soil sample for laboratory analysis, which was found to have a level of ND (Non Detect).  After removal, client was billed almost double the quoted amount and then told they would have to spend another $3,600.00 to close out the called in NJDEP case number, even though the tank did not leak (Soil sample was non detect).

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This was the story that was explained to our office.   Curren reviewed the removal contract, soil laboratory test results and the subsequent proposal for $3,600.00 to do additional testing.  It was at this point that it was clear to Curren Environmental that the property owner did not have to do anything and was being taken advantage of.

The property owner hired a removal company without doing the proper research and inturn getting taken advantage of - these are the mistakes the owner made:

  • Owner went with cheapest price, which is really getting what you paid for. When you compared the quotes there was a difference between the hired company’s cost and the next one.  We often see these low cost quotes try to make up the difference by selling additional services that are not typically warranted.  Keep in mind a tank removal is perhaps a once in a life time decision.
  • The tank removal contract had no reference of taking any soil samples after removal, even though there was a chance the tank may have been found to be leaking.
  • Going back to item 2, there was no explanation regarding if testing was performed what would constitute a good or bad results. Results of Non Detect (ND) requires no further testing. 
  • The contract did not include any report. If you were buying a property that had a tank removed, wouldn’t you want a report about the removal?

In this case, the soil test was clean and the tank company said more testing was required, the owner was confused as to why more testing was necessary.  Curren thought it possible that a case number was obtained due to a hole in the tank, which may not have discharged any oil as the hole may have not fully appeared until AFTER removal from the ground.  It is confusing that if the tank leaked that your soil sample is clean. 

We asked the owner to question the need for further testing, their response was as follows:

Unfortunately NJDEP regulations state that if there are holes in a tank then a case number is required.  Even if contamination is not found in the ground, the potential for contamination is cause for a case number. 

Soil samples for closure are required to be collected by a NJDEP licensed subsurface evaluator.  Once the samples are collected and returned from the laboratory, a report can be generated to close out the case number. 

We cannot provide any letter stating there is no contamination or closeout the case with NJDEP without the required samples that must be collected by a NJDEP subsurface evaluator.

The only time sampling is not required is if the tank passed inspection and was not considered a leaking tank. 

Have an Environmental Issue? 

Their response is misleading.  Yes a hole in a tank can be cause to report a spill, but if you acquire a soil sample and it is clean, you have proven that the hole did not create a discharge to the environment.  The NJDEP can be contacted and explained to that the spill reported was in error.   This is what was ultimately done with Curren’s assistance and no further monies were spent.

Curren explained that no testing is required by law for a tank removal and the contract clearly does not include any contingency for sampling the tank excavation after removal and what the results would mean.    Testing is important to prove the tank did not leak and should have been included as an option in the quote, it was not.

Tags: tank removal

What is the NJDEP LSRP Program?

Posted by David C Sulock on Jan 17, 2017 8:52:00 AM

In 2009, the New Jersey Legislature in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) enacted the Site Remediation Reform Act, which was designed to expedite and better manage contaminated sites in New Jersey.  In essence, the NJDEP privatized the management and environmental cleanup of commercial contaminated properties in New Jersey.    Previously the NJDEP would take a more active or inactive role in the management of these sites depending on how you defined managed.  The new regulations require owners of contaminated sites (responsible party) to retain a LSRP (licensed site remediation professional) to direct said owner in following the applicable NJDEP regulations.  There are steep fines for owners that do not follow these regulations and these fines are meant to ensure compliance.  To establish timely compliance, the NJDEP also has timeframe deadlines for when specific tasks must be completed, such as defining the extent of a plume -  both on and off site, if and when applicable.  Additional incentive for property owners to remediate a property relates to annual fees the NJDEP imposes on owners of the contaminated site. The theory being if you are being charged for owning a contaminated site you will be motivated to remediate and thus remove those fees.

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Licensed site remediation professionals" (LSRPs), are private sector professionals authorized to act instead of the NJDEP to evaluate contamination and supervise asd well as approve remediation efforts at industrial/commercial sites. LSRPS’s have education and experience requirements as well as having to pass a proficiency exam and complete on going continuing education relative to environmental regulations.  In short, the LSRPs do what the NJDEP formerly did, and in theory do it more efficiently and expeditiously. At the conclusion of a cleanup, LSRPs issue the site an approval called a "response action outcome" (RAO).  RAO’s, say that the site is in compliance with environmental regulations.  RAO's, replaces what the NJDEP historically had provided for sites, which was an NFA or "No Further Action".  NFA’s while still provided for residential sites, were formerly issued by the NJDEP under the prior system on commercial sites. Commercial sites no longer receive an NFA under these regulations

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The NJDEP still has oversight over LSRP’s, although somewhat limited as the regulations allow the LSRP’s to use professional judgement. The LSRP program has both fans and critics.   There are federal and state environmental regulations in the United States, but of all the states only two have an LSRP program (Massachusetts and New Jersey).   Bottom line, if you have interests in commercial property in New Jersey and that is contaminated, you will be retaining an LSRP.

Have an Environmental Issue? 

Tags: LSRP

10 Things You Need to Know About Black Mold

Posted by David C Sulock on Jan 12, 2017 10:09:00 AM

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  1. Black Mold is one of the most misused words when referring to mold.
  2. Black Mold is a term made up by the media.
  3. There is no mold that has the scientific name Black Mold. In all the thousands of types of molds present in our environment, there is no mold called Black Mold
  4. Molds have difficult names to pronounce like Cladosporium, Basidiospores, Chaetomium, and Periconia. Having a mold named Black Mold would make things too simple. 
  5. The term Black Mold is misinformation, a term that is meant to confuse and scare you. You will see the "Black Mold"  most often utilized by someone in the mold industry.   These simplistic references to Black Mold as an actual type of mold clearly shows that the individual is not familiar with mold... at all. 
  6. You cannot identify mold by color.
  7. The color of mold has no correlation to how it will affect someone. (black,brown, yellow, orange, greent...etc.)
  8. If you are told you have "Black Mold" you are being told a lie. 
  9. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) does not recognize the term Black Mold.
  10. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) does not recognize the term Black Mold.

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Questions About Mold?


 



 

Tags: mold

Prevent Mold In Your Bathroom...

Posted by David C Sulock on Sep 30, 2016 9:37:00 AM

How do you prevent Mold in your bathroom? Well – there are many different ways to prevent mold from growing in your bathroom, first and foremost you must control moisture. 

How do you prevent moisture?  You must have a working bathroom exhaust fan that helps reduce moisture.  If you have a fan already in your bathroom a good way to test if it is powerful enough to extract moist air is to take a paper towel and hold it up to the fan while it is on.  If the fan can hold the paper towel it is most likely strong enough to extract the moist air generated in the space. If the paper towel falls to the floor it is time to get a new fan.  You can buy a good working fan from either Home Depot or Lowes.  The fan should not be vented inside the dwelling, such as discharging to the attic or be closed off in the ceiling.  The fan should have a direct line to the outside. If the fan does not have a direct line outside, than moisture is collecting somewhere else in your house where mold may be occurring.

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Does your exhaust fan automatically turn on when you turn your lights on in the bathroom?  If not, you should get in the habit of turning it on when they turn the lights on. If the exhaust fan is not turned on during the shower or bath then the condensation will sit on your walls and ceiling causing moisture build up and then turning to mold.

You can always open a window as well – this will bring in fresh air into the bathroom and allow for the condensation to travel outdoors.

Mold prevention is water prevention.  Don’t let condensation happen in your bathroom – this leads to mold.  Once mold spores grow they can grow on everything in your bathroom – this could be your towels, curtains, ceilings and walls.  If you do decide to remove the mold – remember dead spores still can affect you.  You may not see the mold growing but mold spores can be everywhere including the air.

Don’t let mold grow in your bathroom prevent it. For more information on Mold please contact our office at 888-301-1050 or email us at [email protected]

Tags: mold

Do you have “Black Mold”?

Posted by David C Sulock on Sep 20, 2016 1:20:22 PM

If someone says “Black Mold” or even asks “Is that black mold?” I cringe.  In today’s society, people are deathly afraid of black mold and what it will do to you.  I even see my industry peers (I use peers rather lightly) tell people about the “Black Mold”.  The fact is there is no mold that is called black mold. Yes, that is correct - no mold called black mold.   I have seen countless laboratory reports where mold testing was performed and nowhere is there a mold called black mold on that laboratory analytical report.  Most molds have very difficult names to spell and pronounce such as Alternaria, Penecillium/Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Basidiospores, Ulocladium and Smuts (OK, Smuts is an easy one to pronounce).   The term Black Mold originated from the media to create hype for mold issues and scare the public.   In the mold industry, the term is used by nonprofessionals to scare and misinform people.   I say this is as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency ) and laboratories that test for mold do not recognize any mold referred to as black mold.

Why should you NOT be afraid of black mold?  Because black mold is not a type of mold, black mold is a color of mold and there are many different molds that are white, grey and black, but there is not a specific type of mold called black mold.   The term black mold should scare you, because if a mold company representative tells you that you have black mold, well then the next thing they are going to tell you or I mean sell you is a bridge (kidding). What they will sell you is a mold remediation that may or may not be warranted.   Let’s face it if you see mold you have mold, if you smell musty odors (the odor is mold growing and off gassing) you have mold and need remediation (remediation = Removal).  When people try and scare you with fictitious molds, well then they are playing off fear and trying to steer you toward an emotional decision rather than a well thought out decision.

Look at the facts if you have mold, it has been growing for some time, weeks, months years. When the temperature and moisture conditions are right, mold grows.   Mold needs a 48 to 72 hour incubation period to grow, meaning if you get something wet and dry it out fast, no mold will grow. Mold doesn’t grow everyday but when the conditions are right mold will grow and when the conditions are not conducive mold goes dormant like grass in winter.

Now back to “I have mold” because you see it and it is everywhere and were told it is black mold. It was in your crawl space so you think you get a pass because you’re a clean person and don’t go into the crawl space because it is not clean in there.  Now that you have looked in there you can see mold growth and it looks bad and you are told it is the worst they have seen.  Then you are told you have an emergency mold remediation.  Seriously, I am not making this stuff up, these are actual comments people say to us, who met with so-called mold professionals.  First, you have mold, next is why do you have mold? You need to find the water source, as mold doesn’t grow without water, fix the water problem BEFORE you remediate otherwise the mold can grow back.   Emergency and mold really shouldn’t be in the same sentence because mold takes as long to grow as does getting your “Honey Do List” completed.   In situations where the mold firm pushing alarm buttons, step back, you need to call another company to assess your mold issue, because the company in this scenario is not providing a competent consultation.  I like decisions based on facts not scare tactics.

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When should you get a second opinion about Mold?

  1. When you are told you have black mold.
  2. When you are told your mold is the worst they have ever seen.
  3. When you are told that the mold is an emergency.
  4. The firm you are dealing with does 24 hour mold removal emergency service.
  5. When you feel like who you are dealing with may not be 100% honest.

Mold can be alarming, the presence of mold points to a moisture issue, which can lead to having to repair what is causing the water problem such as roof, plumbing leak or gutters.  The water and mold problem can also mean that you have to replace water (mold damaged) building materials such as wall studs, sheetrock, etc.   So yeah, mold can be scary to your wallet.  Mold also has a variety of health concerns that affect people differently and some people not at all.  Remember some people have peanut allergies, gluten issues, allergies to cats and some mold. 

What should you do if you have mold?

  1. Find the water issue and correct it. Stopping water stops mold growth.
  2. Speak with a mold professionals (they are rare) about how to correct the issue.
  3. Remember mold remediation is not the killing of mold as dead mold spores can affect you. Mold remediation is the removal of mold.
  4. Hire a firm that you feel has the competence to address your mold issue.  Mold remediation costs vary widely or should I say wildly.  Remediation costs should be tied to equipment as well as labor and material utilized to remediate your problem.  Most every mold remediation will entail applying a fungicidal encapsulate (expensive paint that prevents future mold growth) that is applied to remaining organic surfaces.  This encapsulate can kill any spores that remain and treats the surface to prevent future growth.  We find that while people may fix one water issue that caused the mold, there may be a second or third source that is not as obvious.  These coatings provide a safety net to prevent mold growth in the future.  The better ones cost more but come with 10 year warranties. 
  5. Warranties from mold companies are useless as companies come and go.  Warranties from mold coating firms are priceless.

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Now you know that “Black Mold” is not type of mold and Mold issues are typically not an emergency. When you are told, you have black mold and it is an emergency you know you need to find another firm. Thank them and find someone reputable. Stay away from firms that do not have a physical address (PO Box means no), firms that work out of their homes are also questionable as mold remediation is physical labor-intensive work. Home based firms typically subcontract the work, which adds needless expense.

 

Tags: mold

Due Diligence & Executors of Homes with Oil Tanks

Posted by David C Sulock on Aug 31, 2016 2:30:54 PM

A gentleman contacted Curren Environmental regarding a house of his deceased in-laws.  His wife is the executor of the estate and lives local to the property.  Her parents who recently passed away, purchased their home only 2 years ago, moving from their previous home where they lived for over 50 years. Now, her parents’ home needs to be sold.  With all estates, you have the executor who is burdened with managing all the affairs, payment of bills and disbursement of assets with typically the home being the largest and most difficult assist to deal with.  Now, you also have the relatives and typically the beneficiaries of the estate that don’t do much but complain about how slow the executor is in disbursing the monies.  The heirs or as some people say THEIRS, want their share pronto (mourning is over) and they are impatient and do not understand what the delay is when disbursing the monies Mom and Dad left for them.  This is an extremely common scenario particularly when the average time it takes to settle an estate is one year.

This photos shows a more serios tank leak where the oil leaked deeper into the water table.  The seller would not allow the buyer to do any testing before purchase.

leaking oil tank cost

Being an executor of an estate is a difficult, thankless job as I just tried to explain.  Being the executor of an estate with an oil tank is an even bigger headache.  In our scenario the last asset to manage is the home sale and failure comes quick.  The home we are discussing was as I stated just purchased 2 years ago and is in good shape as the parents had a home inspection and prior owners addressed the short laundry list of items the home inspector found, so the sale by all the heirs accounts should be fast and smooth, right?   Yes and no, the house found a buyer that loved the house, neighborhood and price.  House was being sold as is and the buyers were ok with that.  Problem was the house was of the era when oil heat was likely used (home is on natural gas) and the buyers wanted a tank scan.  The Executor didn’t even know what a tank scan was and was informed by their attorney that if a tank was found, they would have to disclose it to future buyers in the event the deal went south. 

The heirs to the estate (brother & sister) lived in Florida, where oil tank problems are like unicorns and were completely baffled as to why this type of inspection would be necessary.   Now the internet is a vast trove of information where you can learn then become quite confused.  The executor googled Oil Tank Leak New Jersey and saw some alarming (scary) web pages, so they denied the prospective home buyers the rights to perform a tank scan.  (buyers were just out of their inspection period, so it was within the rights of the owner to deny the inspection).  So the deal died and the executor and heirs were anxious for the next buyer. 

The estate found another buyer and in the contract removed the right to do any tank sweeps and provided a statement that they were unaware of any oil tanks.  Again this buyer fell through, upon the advice of their realtor and attorney who both knew the risk of an oil tank (expensive to cleanup oil tank leaks and whoever owns the property owns the problem) and they canceled their offer to purchase.  Now the house sat, realtors talk as do neighbors, word on the street the property had an oil tank problem that the owners would not address.  You see realtors talk about what deals are happening and why deals fall apart, neighbors also are aware when a house gets a for sale sign, an under contract sign and then gets a for sale sign again

In this situation the husband of the executor contacted our office and relayed the story you were just told.  He wanted to know if he could inspect the dwelling for an oil tank so that he would know if there was an oil tank.  He didn’t want a report of a tank scan, he just wanted to know one way or another so they could settle this issue.  (the brother in Florida was getting real impatient and couldn’t understand the holdup)  What was Curren Environmental’s advice?

  1. It was ill-advised to deny the buyer the option of performing a tank scan, it made the owner look like they were hiding something. We asked how would you feel if you were denied an inspection for a property you were buying?
  2. Even though the sale was As Is, oil tanks don’t fall into As Is sales as you can’t walk a site and determine the expense involved with cleaning up an oil tank, that can cost thousands of dollars to just diagnosis the problem. It is far easier to get contractors to walk a property and provide rough budgets for roof repair, bathroom remodel, kitchen updating, tank issues cannot be evaluated so easily - unless you have X-ray vision.  Bottom line, the tank scan should have been performed.
  3. The question to our office regarding what indications would indicate the presence of an oil tank was a red flag, it typically means that the person wants to hide this evidence. WE indicated that they should stop going in the direction of looking for evidence of a tank, you see we were already in agreement that the age of the home (Pre 1985) was a sign that the house may have had oil heat.  In fact this house was built in 1920, and no doubt had coal heat, which was converted to oil heat after WWII and then ultimately natural gas.
  4. If the sellers stayed on the course they were on (denying an oil tank sweep), they may find a buyer, that may buy the house and an oil tank may be found in the future (possible during the next transaction or by a home improvement, or neighbor talking about how the neighborhood had oil heat and their house has a buried oil tank). Now at this point where an owner finds an oil tank, old owners typically get sued.  The problems with estates and oil tanks are by this time, the estate is dissolved and monies are disbursed, so the parties getting sued are the heirs to the estate.
  5. The best course of action is to allow the oil tank inspection, if no tank is found no harm no foul. If a tank is found, be aware of what many tank removal companies will not tell you,  (1) not all tanks leak, (2) not all tanks that leak require remediation and (3)  oil tank that leaks that are so costly and detailed in the scary Google search of Oil Tank Leaks, are rare, but that is what people see when they research oil tanks.
  6. Better to perform a tank scan, if an oil tank is found, remove the oil tank.  This is preferable to hiding any tank issue and than be sued afterwards. Bottom line, you can’t go stick the oil tank problem on the next person, it is unethical and immoral and the buyer will find  an attorney that will sue you.  Let’s say your property has an oil tank and you have to spend money to remove and remediate, well whatever that cost is $5,000.00 or $8,000.00 or whatever amount, that is a cost the estate must bear.  Whatever the estate is worth, it is worth that amount less whatever the cost of the tank issue is, If there even was an oil tank.

What to know the ending of this story, what happen to the estate?   Did the siblings in Florida get help?  Did the first buyer come back to buy the house after doing a tank scan?   Call our office to find out at 856-858-9509 or email us at [email protected]. Curren offers a free consultation to address your oil tank questions; we know you have one because you just read our story. (Check out this story from an Estate in CA)

 

Tags: oil tank removal nj