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These firms create innovative solutions while upholding their responsibility to the public’s health, safety, and wellbeing.
Cities like Oviedo, Fla. are investing in the cleanup of defunct brownfield sites, converting even highly contaminated properties from liabilities to assets that pump economic vitality into their communities. And municipalities are getting reimbursed for doing so. But these ambitious undertakings require the expertise of professionals with strong environmental engineering and remediation backgrounds and an understanding of federal and state regulations aimed to protect public health and the environment.
This spring, after over two years of working closely with SCS Engineers and the development team, the City of Oviedo will unveil its redevelopment project: a 3.7-acre public park with a walking and jogging trail. The loop trail will be part of a larger trail system interconnecting through the City and the Cross-Seminole trail, with the latter running throughout the county.
The walking and jogging path surrounds a pond with a dual purpose: to serve as an added feature to this peaceful retreat and part of an enhanced stormwater management system that will allow business owners to convey drainage from their properties via an underground stormwater management system. Along the park perimeter, historical displays will tell the story of the nearly century-and-a-half-old City’s past.
SCS helped the City navigate regulatory issues associated with redeveloping environmentally impacted land, ensuring safe and environmentally sound practices, and maximizing financial reimbursement through the Florida Brownfields Program.
In the 1940s, the site operated as a farm but lay idle and overgrown with vegetation decades after. When SCS came in to complete the environmental assessment, the team confirmed that years of pesticide application did leave arsenic behind in the soil.
“It appears that the pesticides were used appropriately, but with the change in land use and to meet the state’s environmental criteria, we need to address the residuals to redevelop the property as a park. It would otherwise remain as unusable land without this cleanup,” says Kirk A. Blevins, SCS senior project manager.
SCS completed site assessment activities according to Chapter 62-780 FAC, which includes additional testing to delineate the extent of arsenic-impacted soil further and evaluate groundwater conditions. Assessment activities indicated that while not impacting groundwater, the soil contained arsenic above acceptable regulatory levels. In its next step, the team designed a remedial action plan with multiple considerations for success.
“Given that the site would include both a stormwater management pond and a public park, we recommended that rather than cap the soil to reduce potential exposure, the City meet the strictest cleanup criteria. This option is the most protective of human health and the environment,” Blevins says.
The plan included removing approximately 47,000 cubic yards of arsenic-impacted soil, then placement of clean import fill for areas open to the public. Blevins and his team proposed excavating to the property boundary, and they provided technical guidance to the City contractor on how to efficiently and safely execute this undertaking. “It was important to excavate to the property boundary to assure removal of the impacted material so that the City would receive unconditional closure approval from the regulatory agency,” explains Blevins.
Concise reporting of the work is key to securing that approval, so SCS documented the excavation of impacted soil to the appropriate depths and lateral extents, managing it appropriately onsite, and transporting it to an approved landfill for disposal.
The team worked with the City’s environmental counsel to bring the site into the Florida Brownfields Program and prepared its voluntary cleanup tax credit (VCTC) applications for submission to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). All expenses and payment, confirming the expenditures “integral to rehabilitation,” are documented. With this validation, the City of Oviedo is getting back about half of its $1,432,000 related investment. It will receive another 25% bonus once FDEP issues a letter stating that no further action is required.
Documentation and communication with the state regulators is an ongoing process requiring a detailed review of contractor proposals, invoices, pay applications, proof of payment, and a summary of progress each year over the project’s life. “In particular, a line-item review of invoices can sometimes establish additional actions that are critical to remediation that otherwise might have been overlooked and not captured. This process is vital to maximize reimbursement,” Blevins explains.
Cost, as always, is a client priority. So, SCS and the remedial team focused on minimizing offsite disposal of the impacted soil, proposing over-excavating the pond, using the unimpacted soil as the onsite fill, and placing a portion of the impacted soil at the pond’s bottom.
“This was possible because testing indicated that the impacted soil would not leach arsenic into the pond water at a rate that would adversely affect water quality. We confirm that arsenic concentrations are below the strictest regulatory level before any soil from over-excavating the pond can be of beneficial reuse onsite. Safety of people and environmental protection always comes first,” Blevins says.
The ultimate outcome: Oviedo has a regional stormwater pond suited for potential commercial operations to use for drainage, maximizing available land for economic development, as well as a recreational park for the community and visitors.
SCS’s technical expertise was crucial to successfully remediating this site, attests Bobby Wyatt, Public Works Director at City of Oviedo, Florida.
“The team easily navigated and sped up the permitting process for the arsenic removal and provided continuing assistance with monitoring during construction. The process for completing the specific remediation/permitting was unfamiliar to City staff, and SCS provided efficient and competent assistance to get us where we needed to go.
Their experience provided a sense of confidence that we were going to be able to make the park project successful,” Wyatt says.
SCS has worked on brownfields projects and voluntary remediation across the U.S. for over 45 years. We convert once nonproductive commercial and industrial properties into revenue-generators and affordable housing.
Somshekhar (Som) Kundral is SCS Engineer’s most recent go-getter to receive the honor of a Waste360 40 Under 40 Award. Described by his supervisor, SCS Vice President Bob Speed, as ‘humble, hungry, and smart,“ Kundral has spent no time in the slow lane.
He joined SCS as a young engineer in 2010, and quickly worked his way up, reaching a senior management position in a few years.
He now oversees multiple remediation projects, from small to multimillion-dollar jobs, taking ownership of environmental aspects of redevelopment, from remediating groundwater contamination to addressing landfill gas problems as challenges. He has come up with unique and far-reaching solutions through collaboration with his team to help clients achieve their business goals.
But before telling the story of Kundral, the senior-level engineer and project manager, let’s start with an earlier chapter.
“It’s an interesting and kind of odd story,” he recalls. “A friend asked me to drive him to a job interview as he did not have transportation. The HR person, for some reason, asked both of us to interview [having heard I was an engineer too].
“I was dumbfounded and a little nervous as I was not prepared. I had to download my resume from my yahoo ID quickly… I thought, what have I got to lose? It’s a good engineering job with a large real estate company.”
He got the job and continues to seize practically every opportunity before him, growing from each one. Today at SCS, Kundral oversees several redevelopment projects, including a 500-acre landfill conversion to a large business park, which received the American Council of Engineering-Florida and the Environmental Business Journal awards.
“The landfill had a lot of environmental and geotechnical issues, with the largest ones around groundwater contamination and stormwater management. They are typical redevelopment challenges we need to overcome, and in this case, they were on a larger scale,” he says.
As the intricate strategy evolved, Kundral, working with his project advisor, Senior Vice President Eddy Smith, called many multidiscipline group huddles. Kundral has assessed, reassessed, stopped, and restarted. And he has brought in more engineers to pump up the team’s expertise and take this project to the next level.
“We are now halfway through. And I tell you, I don’t think I should have gray hair yet, but I have some now. Still, I feel so relieved because we have the formula to make this work. “We did it by integrating the groundwater and stormwater management systems,” he says.
The integration resolves two big issues: It, of course, addresses groundwater contamination. But Kundral and the team also want to maximize areas for redevelopment, and the design supports this goal as it eliminates the need for stormwater ponds.
To him, the job is as much about open communication and teamwork as technical talent.
“At the end of the day, no matter what we do, we deal with people. I believe in staying in front of our clients, explaining what to expect when, and I continually engage with staff who support me.” With this business park conversion, as they dove deeper, they saw more intricacies. “It was important to help our client see we were not simply trying to catch up; for them to understand we had to give more time and attention to do the job as best as it can be done.”
From age 28, when he came to SCS, Kundral was keenly aware that there was potential to do plenty and wanted to take on more. “I’m just curious to see what I can get into,” he says. He began with smaller projects, each with one or two focuses. Little by little, he could connect more dots. “I could start to see the big picture and wanted to know more about how to pull the whole project together,” he says.
While he mostly oversees redevelopment projects, he has also supported industrial waste permitting and compliance reporting endeavors. He describes the latter projects as straightforward.
“I prefer the more involved brownfields projects; there is more to learn when overseeing the work. Each site is unique, with different challenges. And each time, what you discover and how you approach it is different.”
Doing the work he loves has come with tradeoffs, such as giving up kayaking and cutting back on trips to the beach—once his favorite pastimes. “They’re fun, but they are day- and night-long ventures. By the time I got home, Saturday was gone. And I needed to catch up on work emails at night and plan for the next week.”
He does find a few hours some weekends for another interest—photography—heading to the zoo or state parks with his wife, Anjana, who shares his passion for watching out for a good “Kodak moment” and capturing it.
Nevertheless, figuring out how to fix problems is still his greatest passion, further maturing from experience. When asked if he could be someone else for a day, who that would be, he thought for a while, then said: “I would love to be myself again but be able to watch as a third person and make note of the scope of improvements I have made over time. From that, perhaps I can learn even more.”
Kundral speaks of three people who helped shape him: his grandfather, father, and father-in-law.
“Growing up watching my grandfather’s resilience helped me learn how to manage hard situations.
From my father, I learned to view situations in ways to understand people better. This has helped shape my thoughts to improve my communication.
From my father-in-law, I learned the importance of humor and gained a sense of humor. This is a good thing for lightening up situations and reducing stress.”
Kundral will take on challenges because it’s part of getting to the end goal. And reaching that goal is what sparks him. He goes back to the 500-acre Florida brownfield to illustrate. “This property is being converted to a business park with great companies operating there, like Home Depot and Boeing. So, our client is creating a legacy. The project creates jobs. It brings in taxes. It improves environmental conditions. We are part of it, and that excites me.”
Kundral is in good company. These other SCS Young Professionals are past 40 Under 40 Award recipients. Like Kundral, they work diligently, solving an array of complicated solid waste challenges. SCS Engineers is very proud of our YP’s award-winning accomplishments for their clients and their contributions to their communities’ health and welfare.
Steve Linehan is a Senior Project Manager who oversees solid waste and environmental services projects from SCS’s Oklahoma City and Wichita offices. Linehan has a broad range of expertise, including solid and hazardous waste regulations, landfill design, stormwater modeling design, and remedial action plans. He holds professional engineering licenses in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
Srividhya (Vidhya) Viswanathan, Vice President, is recognized for her innovative engineering plans and designs of traditional solid waste and renewable energy programs. Viswanathan, Southwest Director of Engineering, continues consolidating and integrating engineering operations to provide more streamlined and efficient services. She leads solid waste engineering operations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico.
Solavann (Sol) Sim, a Project Director and OM&M Western Regional Manager for SCS Field Services, has expertise in all facets of landfill operations, including landfill gas and liquids management. His teams keep landfills safer and running within compliance. He is a licensed professional engineer in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah.
David P. Hostetter, Business Manager for SCS RMC® (Remote Monitoring and Controls), works in environmental engineering and technology. He serves clients by leveraging technology to reduce business and industry environmental impacts. His environmental solutions reduce potential greenhouse gas emissions and lower environmental risk from landfills, thus protecting workers and local communities.
The Remediation Technology (RemTEC) Virtual summit will take place March 9-11, 2021.
RemTEC will be much more than your typical video-based virtual conference. Their robust virtual platform will provide a seamless experience of educational sessions, networking opportunities, custom-built exhibitor booths, and much more.
The Conference Keynote will feature a panel discussion on “Lessons Learned and What’s Next for Site Remediation from Industry Titans.”
The conference will feature several Tracks:
If you can solve their many challenges, landfills often are perfect sites for a myriad of uses. Landfill redevelopment can be smart growth, taking advantage of existing infrastructure and nearby populations to provide infill opportunities for commercial, industrial, residential, and recreational development, sometimes with an opportunity for alternative energy such as solar power. And more active use of a closed landfill site makes post-closure care more robust as compared with quarterly inspections.
If you missed SCS Engineers’ February webinar, it’s not too late! Learn more about the environmental and regulatory strategies to assess and redevelop closed landfills for reuse and, by doing so, set realistic goals toward cost-effective and sustainable economic development. SCS webinars are non-commercial, and your registration information is confidential.
Our panelists bring comprehensive expertise to the table, including scores of successful landfill redevelopment projects. Using case studies, they will cover the topics your team will need to address to meet the unique environmental and regulatory challenges of redeveloping landfills for solar or residential, or commercial use.
Thousands of acres of closed landfills in the U.S. may be suitable for redevelopment. Federal investment tax credits and state incentive programs and rebates are available, enhancing the financial viability of converting a closed landfill or Brownfields property into solar farms. Landfills have operating expenses long after closing, and renewable energy production can help offset these expenses and produce a more environmentally friendly carbon footprint.
We hope you will join us to learn about evaluating the feasibility of converting closed landfills into self-sustaining or revenue-generating assets.
Marketing Specialist Dana Justice of SCS Engineers shares her favorite snack on Snacks with a Surprise while discussing Brownfields’ economic potential, the environmental impact, and the opportunity to serve communities through her support. Her work with SCS’s environmental consultants and engineers provides land remediation and Brownfields grants bringing properties with a past back to pristine condition. The redevelopment of these properties, typically with developed infrastructure already in place, provide jobs, housing, parks, and tax revenues for the surrounding community.
Learn more about the Urban Land Institutes’s Women’s Leadership Initiative or
more about Brownfield Remediation and Grants here.
SCS Engineers announces Brittney Odom’s promotion to the Southeast region’s Environmental Services Director. Odom will continue expanding and integrating SCS’s environmental engineering and consulting operations to provide more streamlined and efficient services in her new role. She will lead environmental operations in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, and the Caribbean. As with all SCS leaders, she continues serving her clients in Boca Raton in her expanded role.
Odom supports real estate developers, municipalities, banks, and insurance firms to identify properties’ environmental conditions. Next, depending on soil, water, and geotechnical testing determines the appropriate environmental due diligence and the engineering activities necessary to redevelop them and be in 100% compliance with local and federal rules.
There is an active push to develop more affordable residential housing in the U.S. Real estate developers and residents want to be close to business and transportation hubs, but potential development sites could require remediation. Once agricultural sites, golf courses, or at one-time housing industrial operations, these properties need environmental testing, due diligence, possibly remediation, or vapor intrusion barriers to ensure the safe redevelopment. No matter the condition, properties with a past can return to pristine condition and make desirable residential and mixed housing locations, supporting economic development.
“It’s important to know and understand all of the options ahead of time to keep costs down and environmental quality up for sustainable communities,” stated Odem. “You need to reassure all parties that there is no leaking storage tank or anything that could compromise health.”
Her focus recently is on the redevelopment of large-size properties contaminated with arsenic and other legally applied pesticides. These property types include golf courses and agricultural land that have become inactive but are in high demand for residential use. These projects may need soil management, including remediation, soil blending, and placement restrictions.
Odom has years of experience conducting environmental site assessments, overseeing remediation activities, and submitting regulatory reports, including Phase I & II assessments in Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, and the Caribbean. These focus on gas station properties and bulk storage terminals for large oil companies, often located on prime waterfront sites.
Additional highlights in Odom’s professional career include expertise in the applicable Florida Regulatory Chapters and Standard Operating Procedures. She also has experience in state and international cleanup efforts and their associated regulatory procedures. She participated in successful environmental closure efforts, with imposed engineering controls and property restrictions.
Odom has ten years of experience managing subsurface investigation and conducting oversight during remedial activities, including source removal and remediation system installation. She holds certifications in 40-Hour HAZWOPER/OSHA training, Loss Prevention System, CPR, RCRA Hazardous Waste, DOT Hazardous Waste, and American Petroleum Institute certification.
“Brittney’s breadth of experience solving the complexities of large scale redevelopment while meeting all environmental regulatory compliance enables her to innovative better solutions,” said Carlo Lebron, SCS vice president and director of SCS’s Southeast operations. “She’s an expert, with access to our deep bench of engineers, scientists, technology, and even economists within SCS.”
SCS Engineers and Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) are to be honored at the annual conference in Florida planned for August 2021. The firms will receive a 2021 Engineering Excellence Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida. The honor acknowledges SCS for the environmental engineering firm’s innovative design that integrates groundwater remediation with the stormwater management system on a 500-acre former landfill site. The design enabled the developer to remediate the former landfill into the Countyline Corporate Park in Southeast Florida.
Industrial real estate is in high demand, but former landfills and brownfields present environmental challenges that can become cost-prohibitive to redevelop without sound environmental expertise. FECI retained the professional services of SCS Engineers to provide consulting and design services addressing the environmental concerns preventing the transformation of a former landfill into a state of the art business park.
Environmental guidelines require 28% (or about 140 acres) of the site to be set aside for stormwater retention. The set aside would require the relocation of several thousand cubic yards of waste and prevent the 140 acres’ redevelopment. The estimated loss of $300 million in potential real estate sales, coupled with the groundwater remediation expense, made the site redevelopment cost-prohibitive. Unless resolved, the problem also impeded FECI’s corporate sustainability goals.
SCS’s experts in landfill design, closure, and remediation, developed a solution tying together the groundwater remediation and stormwater management systems. The integrated system allows for shallow aquifer recharge with stormwater and captures impacted groundwater at the site’s boundary. “We were able to provide an alternative design acceptable to all the permitting agencies, eliminating the need to set aside large areas for stormwater retention,” said Mr. Som Kundral, P.E., SCS’s senior project manager.
SCS’s remedial actions protect public health while opening the site for reuse. The project will be completed in phases. Phase I, consisting of 160 acres, is complete, with two million square feet of occupied businesses and a 30-acre community park. Development of the other three phases, which include another six million square feet, is underway.
The development will create hundreds of new jobs, deliver several hundred million dollars to the city and county tax base, and provide a 30-acre public park. “The engineering solution protects the environment while meeting FECI’s strategic, social, economic, and sustainability goals,” said Mr. Eduardo Smith, P.E., SCS’s senior vice president of client success.
Learn more about these related topics, events, and case studies at SCS Engineers:
…it’s like balancing a chemical equation to get the right answer.
SCS Engineers works with insurance firms, and we understand the insurance industry’s involvement in environmental and engineering projects. Our professional staff, located according to their knowledge of regional and local geography, regulatory policies, and industrial or scientific specialty, are available nationwide. SCS professionals are sought after as technical experts, admitted as expert witnesses, and support legal counsel in a variety of environmental and regulatory litigation matters.
Rising to meet the needs of insurance companies, SCS has the resources and professionals to assist commercial, industrial and municipal clients with a wide range of environmental and engineering issues and scenarios that can occur in the course of business operations. As a result, SCS also assists clients who have the need for, and exposure to, environmental insurance policies, assisting with coverage-related matters and claims. For our engineering and environmental clients, SCS has the depth of insurance experience and technical expertise to provide the guidance needed to help with environmental claims and can act as a liaison to facilitate a more straightforward claim process.
Environmental insurance can cover regulatory agency-required cleanups, bodily injury, property damage, and associated legal expenses that may result from a contamination event. Contamination and the mitigation process are expensive, often more expensive than prevention. Contamination is usually accidental, such as a spill, but may transpire over time or be a pre-existing condition. Environmental insurance protects companies by covering the expense of assessing contamination and performing remediation, thus restoring the environment and helping to keep the business operating safely. Our experience includes a wide range of environmental claim scenarios (i.e. gasoline/service stations, transportation accidents, the oil and gas industry, manufacturing and industrial facilities, asbestos, mold), which dovetails extremely well with SCS’s own numerous business sectors.
Partial Reprint of EPA Press Release
Over the past three years alone, EPA has assessed 6,572 properties, completed cleanups at 638 properties, and made 2,900 properties ready for anticipated reuse. Over this same period, more than 43,000 jobs have been leveraged as a result of Brownfields’ actions.
EPA recently announced the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding through the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. Many of the communities and tribes selected can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones.
“Without redevelopment opportunities, urban and rural communities – even those with deep historic roots – can eventually wither,” said OLEM Assistant Administrator Peter Wright. “Brownfields remediation and revitalization support communities by investing in the redevelopment of existing properties in the community.”
Since EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995, it has provided nearly $1.6 billion in Brownfield funding to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. EPA’s Brownfields funding has leveraged more than $32.6 billion in cleanup and redevelopment from both public and private sources, which in turn has produced more than 167,000 jobs. This is an average of nine jobs per $100,000 of EPA investment and more than $17 in private funding for each dollar of EPA Brownfield grant funding.
Brownfields grants have been shown to:
A Brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. The Brownfields program empowers local leaders and communities to transform underused and distressed properties into community assets across America. Brownfields funds assess and cleanup vacant, underused, and potentially contaminated properties so that property can be reused as housing, recreation, and open space, health facilities, social services, or commercial sites. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 Brownfields in the United States.
For more information on successful Brownfields program applications, site revitalization, and success stories nationwide visit Brownfields and Voluntary Remediation. If you’d rather jump right into a few success stories, click on these below:
Locate a Brownfields and remediation expert near you – SCS Staff