Releases of hazardous substances to the subsurface can have a significant environmental impact for an owner or operator of a facility, whether it is under construction or has been active for years. Minor damage to a buried storage tank or underground pipe can have consequences to the environment and public health.

Each year, ATC Group Services conducts thousands of Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) to identify, analyze and resolve environmental conditions at a facility.  While there are government regulations and rules in place to prevent and curtail the impact, ATC Group Services is providing five guidelines that a facility owner should consider to prevent or mitigate releases of hazardous substances to the subsurface.


1. Diligently Investigate the Site before Construction

Conduct due diligence to identify potential complications in the construction process and possible impacts to the environment. Determining if hazardous substances are present in the subsurface is essential in this process, as these hazardous substances can increase construction costs or present a future liability.


2. Install Spill and Overflow Protection

Any juncture or coupling of aboveground or underground location where pipes and/or hoses or new lines connect to supply storage tanks is a risk for minor leaks. Spill protection mechanisms are relatively simple modifications to piping and hose junctures that catch stray liquid. Overflow protections are a bit more complicated and may include automatic shutoff devices/or and alarms that alert employees of a concern.


3. Use Non Corroding Materials

Nothing lasts forever, and that is particularly true when it comes to subsurface equipment. Pressure from the soil, exposure to moisture and degradation from normal use all contribute to corrosion. The chemical composition and degree of water saturation of the soil can also increase the risk substantially. Due to the disruptive nature and potential expense of replacing buried tanks, some site owners use specialized materials for tanks and pipes bearing hazardous substances.


4. Build Subsurface Enclosures

Even the sturdiest materials and diligent maintenance will completely eliminate the risk of a leak of a hazardous substance. Sites involved in the storage or transport of hazardous substances are often prime candidates for subsurface containment structures. These barriers function as a fail-safe by stopping or slowing the spread of contamination beyond a limited area. Walls may be composed of a “slurry” mixture of concrete and other substances. The installation of solid walls or chemically resistant liners can also be installed to stabilize the soil and contain hazardous substance leaks when appropriate.


5. Create an Inspection and Maintenance Plan

All sites and subsurface structures should be maintained and inspected according to state, federal and local laws. However, responsible site owners should consider creating a comprehensive plan to check all of their systems and infrastructure on a consistent basis. Identifying early signs of damage and potential releases of hazardous substances can significantly limit impact on the environment and normal site operations.


The Best Time for Leak Prevention is Now

When it comes to dealing with leaks, following the mantra of “crossing that bridge when you come to it” is a dangerous philosophy. The best time to prevent leaks of hazardous substances is right now. Site owners who take a proactive and committed stance on maintenance, inspections and preparation can limit serious financial, logistical and legal risks.

As experts in subsurface investigation and site remediation, ATC Group Services helps businesses evaluate facility processes and quickly address spills of hazardous substances to minimize risks, contain costs, protect human health and aid in restoring the environment. We are deeply experienced in soil, soil vapor and groundwater remediation strategies through both traditional and innovative means, including chemical, biological and physical mass removal technologies.

Our diverse team of experienced consultants and technical professionals can help with the prevention of potential releases of hazardous substances and, if an incident does occur, take pride in restoring sites to their natural and viable conditions. Contact us today for more information.