Veteran Owned Business

Veteran Owned and Operated

Move Over Marriott

by Jeannine Grossenbacher

Businessman Dan Gilbert and Detroit Mayor Mike Dugan recently broke ground on a new Detroit skyscraper that is set to become the tallest building in the city. The 800 foot tall mixed-use building will surpass the Detroit Marriot at the Renaissance Center, which holds the record currently, by 73 feet.

The as yet unnamed building, designed by New York based architects SHoP and the local firm of Hamilton Anderson Associates, will have 1,000,000 square feet of space, including apartments, offices, retail and public areas, and a theater. Underground parking is also planned for the $900,000,000 project.

It will be located on Woodward, at the site of the old Hudson's building, which closed in 1984. The building was imploded in 1998 and the land has been used for underground parking since then.

The new construction will be the first "Well Certified" building in Detroit and will take approximately 4 years to complete.

Air Pollution and Mortality

by Frederick Simms

A recent evaluation of the affect of air pollution on mortality indicates that certain air pollutants cause 20,000 deaths per year in the United States. This study did not include the affect of Volatile Organic Compounds that also have a significant affect on the health of humans. Another study shows some affects by Organic Compounds.

One study used Medicare files and nationwide air pollution data to evaluate the 24-hour exposure for people who died from 2000 to 2012. The study looked at the affect of fine particles of soot and ozone. The evaluation of more than 22 million deaths indicated that each 10-μg/m3 daily increase in fine particulate matter as well as 10–parts-per- billion daily increase in warm-season ozone exposures were associated with a statistically significant increase of 1.42 and 0.66 deaths per 1 million persons at risk per day.

The daily changes in fine particulate matter and ozone exposures were significantly associated with higher risk of mortality at levels that are below current air quality standards, strongly indicating that those air quality standards may need to be reevaluated.

This study is reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, December 26, 2017 by Qian Di, MS, Lingzhen Dai, ScD, Yun Wang, PhD et al.

Another study in the June, 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association was concerned with the “Effects of Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollutants (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) on the Development of Brain White Matter, Cognition, and Behavior in Later Childhood”

These findings suggest that the prenatal exposure to common PAH air pollutants contribute to slower brain processing speed, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, and externalizing problems in urban youth. There is evidence of disruption of the development of left hemisphere white matter, and postnatal PAH exposure contributes to additional disturbances in the development of white matter in dorsal prefrontal regions of the brain.

This article was by Bradley S. Peterson, MD, Virginia A. Rauh. ScD, Ravi Bansal, PhD et al,

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Health Department are certainly emphasizing air quality issues here in Michigan


$300 Million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

by Frederick Simms

In September 2017 the House of Representatives in Washington voted to keep the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funded with $300 million dollars. They voted down cuts to the Initiative. The House of REpresentative Committee and our Senators recommended full Great Lakes funding. Our representatives in Washington are trying to get more funding for these necessary projects.

These funds are needed to protect the Great Lakes against invasive species such as Asian Carp and removal of toxic sediments as well as for other measures.

We need to remain vigilant about cuts in all of the State and Federal environmental programs. The Great Lakes bring in billions of dollars from vacationers and for other uses.

Another Landfill being Used to Create Solar Power in Vermont

by Frederick Simms

Two years ago, Rutland, Vermont decided to make use of a former 15-acre solid waste landfill as a renewable energy site. Green Mountain Power (GMP) developed the site as a the Stafford Hill Solar Farm through a partnership among federal, state, industry, utility ad other organizations.

The installation includes a 2.3 megawatt solar photovoltaic installation that includes 7,772 polysilicon panels in nine acres. The system includes 4 megawatts of additional storage in lead and lithium batteries. Therefore the system can act as part of the main power grid and it can be separated to operate autonomously in emergencies such as power outages at the high school.

The estimate economic benefits include a near term storage component of $350,000 to $700,000 annually and an annual land lease if %30,600 to the city of Rutland, Vermont according to the July 2016 EPA web announcement.

Modification by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality of the Vapor Intrusion Pathway Guidance as of 6/20/2017

by Frederick Simms

Presently, the most difficult environmental issue with property redevelopment in Michigan is the potential for indoor air inhalation of vapors of concern.

The Michigan Department of Environmental quality (MDEQ) developed the Guidance Document for the Vapor Intrusion Pathway to provide information to the MDEQ staff and their environmental contractors that conduct investigations and remedial or corrective actions at properties with potential Vapor Intrusion issues.

As of 6/20/2017 the MDEQ had rescinded Appendix D of the 2013 DEQ VI Guidance. This appendix presented Residential and Nonresidential Screening Values that indicate that there are indoor air exposure risks to individuals that occupy a building.

Certain conditions must be met before Generic Ground Water and Soil Volatization Criteria (SVIIC) can be applied. It appears that a Site Specific Evaluation may need to be performed especially in S.E.Michigan. For example, the ground water table cannot be less than three meters below the site if Generic Criteria are to be used.

A Site Specific Evaluation includes obtaining considerable required information and can include sub-slab air sampling over time. If a Passive or Active Vapor Reduction System is determined to be required then SEE can have Professional Engineers design a necessary system for your building or proposed building.

Have Your Commercial and Industrial Property Values been effected by Former Renters? Get a Phase I ESA Before the New Renters Move In!

by Frederick Simms

Recently, Service Environmental Engineering performed a Phase I ESA and additional work on a small commercial complex in the northern suburbs of the Detroit. The owner of the property was selling the complex to one of the renters and a Phase I was required by the lender.

The Phase I revealed that another renter had a business changing lights in buildings and they were throwing the old fluorescent light bulbs into a dumpster on the subject property and parts of the bulbs were dispersed in the soil around the dumpster. Evidently, this practice had been going on for an extended period of time. The Phase 1I revealed that the shallow soil was contaminated with Mercury. Service Environmental Engineering and the customer remediated the contaminated soil by excavation. This enabled the property transfer to be completed to everyone’s satisfaction.

The lesson here is that it difficult to oversee all of the activities of your renters. If your renter is dealing with consequential materials and/or using consequential products, than it would prudent to have your environmental consultant perform a Phase I on the property to determine if they have been a careful renter.

Energy Independence and Economic Growth

by Frederick Simms

President Trump's Executive Order promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth (March, 2017) makes a number of changes that we have all heard about. We thought it would be worthwhile to emphasize what we think are important parts of the Order:

"By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1 Policy (a) It is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation's vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation. Moreover, the prudent development of these natural resources is essential to ensuring the nation's geopolitical security.

(b) It is further in the national interest to ensure that the Nation's electricity is affordable, reliable, safe, secure, and clean, and that it can be produced from coal, natural gas, nuclear material, flowing water, and other domestic sources, including renewable sources.

(c) Accordingly, it is the policy of the United States that executive departments and agencies immediately review existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest otherwise comply with the law.

It is further the policy of the United States that, to the extent permitted by law, all agencies should take appropriate actions to promote clean air and clean water for the American people, while also respecting the proper roles of the Congress and the States concerning these matters in our constitutional republic.

Vapor Intrusion in Residences, Commercial and Industrial Properties

by Frederick Simms

Service Environmental Engineering attended the Michigan Association of Environmental Professionals on March 27, 2017. Presentations were made by Matthew Williams, Vapor Intrusion Specialist, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and AbbyHendershott, Assistant District Supervisor, MDEQ. They presented tables of new Action Levels for various common hazardous volatile substances. To give you an example, if the groundwater within 100 feet of a building contains more than 1.5 ug/L of Vinyl Chloride - The building may have to be evacuated! However, it is true that the vapor intrusion can vary excessively over time and it may be necessary to sample the air over time to get a true picture of the potential human exposure levels.

It was stated that 30 or more buildings have been closed down because of vapor inhalation problems. It was also stated that there have been many lawsuits with a variety of companies involved. Additionally, the MDEQ is now sharing their data with the Michigan Health Department, who can come into your site.

The new MDEQ rules are not yet promulgated.

Beware - You Get What You Pay For!!! Substandard ASTM Phase Is and Phase IIs

by Frederick Simms

Service Environmental Engineering recently reviewed a Phase I and a Phase II property assessments that purportedly followed the ASTM E1527-13 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process and the ASTM E1903-11 Phase 11 Environmental Site Assessment Process that were performed by a Michigan environmental consulting firm.

Both of the assessment reports showed many deficiencies and we will not enumerate all of them here. The Phase I report was four pages in length - one page covered definitions from the ASTM standard. The Phase1 did not did not describe the geology, topography or condition of outside surfaces. It did not indicate if there were any water wells in the area. It did not describe the uses of surrounding property even though there was a BEA on the property next door. There were no interviews with neighbouring individuals. It claimed that the offsite BEA was a REC. This is not true according to the ASTM standard.

The Phase II did not enumerate in detail the constituents that were analyzed in soil and ground water. Laboratory analytical results were not included. Mercury was a waste from the facility but it was not indicated that Mercury was analyzed. They did not describe how they collected the ground water samples. Ground water occurred but no potentiometric map was developed and the ground water direction was not determined. This is very important in relation to the BEA property next door. Maybe there is impact on that property that eventually may affect the subject property. I could go on and on. This is not an isolated case.

Service Environmental Engineering recommends that you check out the reputation of the environmental company that you are considering using for your assessment. How long have they been in business? Ask to see some of their reports. Request the resumes of the environmental professionals that will perform the job. And finally, if the price that they quote is substantially below that of other environmental companies it may be too good to be true!

A year End 2016 Update for Solar Power Systems on Old Landfills

by Frederick Simms

After four years of preparation, the solar energy project on a landfill of the City of South Burlington, Vermont will break ground in Q1 or Q2 of 2017. This will save the city of South Burlington as estimated $2.9 million over the life of the project (News release by Coralee Holm, 10/18/2016).

There was a dedication of a new 15 megawatt solar system over a closed landfill at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. It is estimated that the solar system will save $ one million per year in energy costs. (Solar Energy Industries Association News for 2016)

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, there are over 100 waste disposal sites that have the potential to be used for solar power systems. Presently, the county is considering four of these sites for the production of solar power. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)


Solar Earth leased the former town dump of the City of Dudly, Massachusetts for $64,000 per year for 25 years. They intend to place a 27 Megawatt solar system on the old landfill.

April Showers

by Jeannine Grossenbacher

April showers may bring flowers, but they can also bring headaches for those without an appropriate Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). Storm water run-off can pick-up many kinds of pollutants, including grease, oil, sediments, nitrogen, phosphorus, and any number of other chemicals. These can then be carried directly to our local water without first receiving necessary treatment.

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) require many industries to develop and comply with an individualized SWPPP. Service Environmental Engineering, Inc. has storm water certified operators to help you every step of the way, from determining whether your business is required to have an SWPPP to helping you file your annual report. We work with many companies through-out Michigan to protect our precious waterways.

Our pollution prevention team will prepare a site map, locating all buildings and driveways, impervious surfaces, storage areas for potentially hazardous fluids, parts, metals, vehicles, or other materials which may impact our environment, as well as drainage areas and patterns, and established control measures. This is an important first step in preparing your StormWater Pollution Prevention Plan.

Following our site evaluation, we will prepare a site specific SWPPP detailing necessary measures and controls for storm water management. This may include plans for proper management of run-off, sediment and erosion control, proper handling of sediment treatment chemicals (polymers, flocculates, etc.), measures for storage, handling and disposal of hazardous material, solid wastes and other materials. The plan will outline steps for proper future inspection, maintenance, and record keeping.

So don't be caught with out an umbrella, call Service Environmental Engineering to get your Storm Water Pollution Protection Plan today. And enjoy the Spring!

Storm Water Compliance

by Gene Simms

Service Environmental Engineering, Inc. has on staff several Certified Storm Water Operators for Industrial Sites. These Storm Water Operators work with dozens of industrial facilities in South-eastern Michigan by preparing permits, writing, reviewing and updating storm water plans, performing quarterly and annual inspections and sampling storm water as well as being an intermediary between the industrial company and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

A Cool Summer Job

by Jeannine Grossenbacher

At Service Environmental Engineering, Inc., we work year round monitoring and testing. This can be hot work in the summer. But a recent job in Kalamazoo provided us with a cool respite from the summer heat. While testing at four of the local Dairy Queens, we took the opportunity to sample more than just possible contamination sources, we sampled all the flavors.

And while we can't say exactly what our results found we can tell you ....There is nothing better to beat the heat, than a quick trip to DQ, even on a workday.

Environmental News

by Gene Simms

Recently, Service Environmental Engineering, Inc. (SEE) consulted with the purchaser of a large industrial building in Ferndale, Michigan. The purchaser needed a Small Business Administration Loan for the purchase of the building and the property. The SBA required written approval of the Documentation of Due Care Compliance (DDCC) plan by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality prior to approving the financing.

SEE performed a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) and Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment in 2014. Then, as directed by the current property owner, they wanted any impact found on the property, regardless of the source, remediated for the purchaser. Trimethylbenzene was found in the soil below the floor. For many decades the building had been used for the processing of rolls of various metals. The floor of the processing area had deep pits for bending steel.

Service Environmental Engineering, Inc. remediated the soil under the building at designated locations and prepared a Baseline Environmental Assessment and a DDCC for the purchaser of the property and the loan was quickly approved.

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