For certain commercial real estate transactions, site remediation is sometimes a necessary step to securing a deal, depending on the extent of the contamination, lender requirements, and risk tolerance of the stakeholder. Ordinarily, this would involve a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment for subsurface investigation to map the nature and (if necessary) a site remediation plan. However, in Louisiana, official site cleanup is mediated by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Risk Evaluation/Corrective Action Program (RECAP), a state-specific corrective action plan.
RECAP is a unique combination of both investigation and remediation. As outlined in Appendix B on the DEQ’s RECAP site, this involves a very exhaustive, detailed and specific scope of steps. Site investigation requirements are described for soil, air and water sampling/analysis, as well as geotechnical analysis. State of Louisiana DEQ regulatory agents oversee methodology on site to ensure compliance during a RECAP investigation. Investigation submission requirements include recommendations for long-term corrective action and (if necessary) emergency or interim corrective action.
For official documentation from the State of Louisiana, in the form of a Letter of No Further Action, you must follow their RECAP protocol for site investigation and cleanup. This could occur due to widespread contamination that presents a significant hazard, the presence of a historical recognized environmental condition from previous use, the development of a more strictly regulated property type (child care or residential, for example), or a low risk tolerance on the part of key stakeholders.
The alternative is a Phase II ESA, which is less expensive and time consuming than a RECAP evaluation, but your sampling and laboratory analysis methods may be different, and may not be accepted for State site clearance. This is a good option if the client wants preliminary subsurface investigations about potential contamination, particularly when it is suspected to be contained or can be easily controlled for property use.
There can also be times when it is recommended to get both a Phase II ESA and RECAP evaluations. This situation is largely outcome-specific, can be lender-driven (where requirements for transactions may differ from developer/owner risk tolerance), and involve industrial sites that need state sign-off for use and development.
Regardless of which environmental consulting route you choose, be aware of special permits needed when working near a levee, especially when investigation includes down hole drilling. In areas below sea level, the levee structures could be compromised if the site investigator hits sand seem. The Corps of Engineers must be provided the site location and coordinates, as well as when the drilling will occur. They will issue a special permit or determine if there are reasons (such as seasonal high river levels) why this work cannot be permitted.
No matter what course of action you take to reduce contamination risks and liability for your asset, rely on the guidance and expertise of dedicated local environmental consultants, who are familiar with the unique needs and requirements of the Louisiana geological landscape.