CSR Spotlight: An Unexpected Rescue, West Coast Edition

Roux CSR

Los Angeles’ downtown area is home to an assortment of industrial facilities that are being rebuilt, renovated, or demolished. Our Long Beach, California office is working at a former asphalt plant which is being rebuilt in the industrial area near downtown. Remedial excavations are currently underway at the asphalt plant, and as mentioned in a similar CSR Spotlight, no two days are alike for Roux field staff.

Around lunch one day at the Site, field personnel heard whining coming from inside the engine compartment of an excavator. Realizing it was a kitten’s cry, Roux staff along with city workers and the site superintendent opened up the excavator to find a 3-4-week-old kitten next to the engine. After a day of sampling, Paige Farrell (above), the Roux Staff Geologist on the Site, sent an email to our Long Beach office asking if anyone was interested in a new family member. Fortunately, Maya Sederholm, Staff Scientist, stepped up to adopt the kitten.

The next morning, Paige arrived at the Site to the heavy equipment operator yelling “We’ve got another one!” That’s right, there was new kitten in the engine compartment the next morning. Most likely the mom had placed her kittens there to keep them warm. Since there was no way of knowing if the mother cat would be back, the decision was made to send another email to the office. This time, Long Beach’s founding Principal, Mauricio Escobar, decided to take home the newest refugee from the asphalt plant.

Roux CSR

Maya’s newest family member, Nala Cat Sederholm, is happy and healthy in her new home. The other kitten, Calvin Roux Escobar, is also doing well with his new dog and human brothers and sisters. These kittens appear to be siblings so they’re being kept within the Roux family so they can visit each other from time to time.

Not unlike the East Coast offices, the Long Beach office has always had a big place in its heart for animal rescue. In fact, most of the employees in the office are rescue parents. As part of their 2017 CSR efforts, the office participated in an event put on by Best Friends Animal Society. The organization’s mission is make Los Angeles and other large cities across the county no-kill cities, and promote adoption over purchasing animals from breeders. The event included a walk around the city and various obstacle courses for dogs. The office plans to make this event a new fixture in their CSR efforts for this year and beyond.

 

Nala (left) and Calvin (right) enjoying their new homes

Roux’s Year in Review 2017

This year has been another successful year for Roux Associates. We’d like to thank all of our clients for contributing to our firm’s growth and progress. To wrap up 2017, we would like to highlight a few of our projects from several of our practice areas—projects that stand out and represent the Roux team’s hard work and ingenuity. Check out our Year in Review below:

Roux Associates

Megamall Redevelopment Project

Brownfields

“Megamall” Redevelopment Project
New York 

One of our largest Brownfields sites is an 85-acre commercial site that is currently undergoing a 445,000-square foot (SF) expansion project, transforming a mall into a 1.6-million SF “megamall.” Additional restaurants and retail stores are included in the expansion plans. The mall expansion Site is enrolled in the New York City Office of Environmental Remediation’s Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP).

Roux completed a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment and Remedial Investigation. We also prepared two Remedial Action Work Plans (RAWPs) for the Site and are responsible for overseeing all excavation, soil disposal and manifesting, and community air monitoring. As part of the RAWP, we have designed and will oversee the installations of vapor barrier systems and active sub-slab depressurization systems to mitigate organic vapors and methane.

Solar Field Development on Brownfield SiteEcological

Solar Field Development on Brownfield Site
New Jersey

Nearly 20 years after Roux Associates completed remediation, a defunct industrial site found new life as a solar field. Due to the small size and an undesirable location, the property had little redevelopment potential and sat underutilized for almost two decades. As part of an aggressive sustainability program, a neighboring business is seeking to source 40% of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2020. In order to help meet this goal, the remediated industrial property was purchased specifically for the purpose of developing a solar field.

Roux was retained by the original responsible party and the solar developer to provide environmental support for the project. We provided due diligence activities to support acquisition of project financing, and support both the buyer and seller with the transfer of permits and institutional controls. Additionally, we provided wetlands and ecological surveys to help maximize the number of solar panels that could be installed, determined regulatory needs, and obtained the requisite coastal zone permit for the work. Roux also implemented ongoing construction and maintenance support for the Site to ensure the engineering and institutional controls remain protective and continue to comply with regulatory requirements.

Solar Field Development on Brownfield Site

Economics & Complex Analytics

2017 Overview

In the past year, Roux has established a new Economic & Complex Analytics (ECA) practice area. Our ECA professionals identify, quantify, and forecast current and emerging environmental and product liability risks. Within just one year, our ECA team has taken on many high-profile litigation projects—such as providing strategic consulting and expert services to estimate damages in a public water contamination case, involving thousands of claim allegations of residential loss, business interruption, and personal injury damages.

Additional ECA engagements during 2017 included providing strategic consulting and/or expert services regarding asbestos litigation claims, environmental contamination, sports-related head trauma, and coverage disputes regarding damages allocation across various industrial sites. The ECA team also grew its legal auditing services, conducted claim file reviews, engaged in public policy projects, and assessed damages for environmental and product liability litigation in both underlying matters and insurance coverage actions. In 2017, ECA Principals testified in litigation proceedings and were invited to present at industry conferences on topics of asbestos, product liability, environmental contamination, and construction defect damages.

Sempra (SoCal Gas) Natural Gas Leak

Industrial

Remediation of 1,1,2 TCA via Soil Blending and Direct Injection
Southeast Kansas

Roux Associates was retained by a railway equipment leasing corporation to remediate chlorinated volatile organic compound (CVOC) contamination at the client’s 38-acre rail car maintenance facility, located in southeastern Kansas. CVOCs, mainly 1,1,2 trichloroethane (TCA) and 1,1 dichloroethene (DCE) and their associated breakdown products, were present in soil and groundwater as a result of the historical operation of a process water holding pond. Rail car servicing, cleaning, and painting had been conducted at the Site since 1963. Spent car cleaning liquids were discharged to a five-pond recirculating system equipped with an oil recovery unit. Site investigation activities were initiated in 1986, and the pond system was closed and decommissioned the following year.

Based on the results of an in situ chemical reduction (ISCR) pilot test program, the former pond area was treated using Anaerobic BioChem® (ABC®) and zero valent iron (ZVI) [ABC+]. The former pond area (approximately 20,000 square feet) was treated by removing the upper eight feet of unsaturated overburden to create a work platform. A total of 3,246 gallons of ABC® and 104,105 pounds of ZVI were introduced in the blended area, and 24,280 pounds of ABC+ was injected at 147 Geoprobe® injection points. The combination of soil blending and direct push injection delivery techniques achieved greater than 99 percent contaminant reduction at source area wells.

Sempra (SoCal Gas) Natural Gas Leak

Insurance

Sempra (SoCal Gas) Natural Gas Leak
Aliso Canyon, California

On October 23, 2015, SoCal Gas discovered a leak at one of its injection and withdrawal wells at its Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, located in the northern part of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County. SoCal has operated the Aliso Canyon facility since 1972. The well is more than one mile away from and 1,200 feet above the nearest homes. It is one of more than 100 injection and withdrawal wells at the storage facility. The leak initially released approximately 53 metric tons of methane per hour or a total of 1,300 metric tons per day. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) estimates that the incident resulted in a total emission of almost 100,000 metric tons of methane.

Roux was retained by several layers of the tower of insurance carriers that are based in the US, London, and Bermuda. The total estimated cost of the response is over $1 billion—the majority of the costs were for the temporary relocation of over 8,000 area residents. Roux was retained to review invoices and categorize the costs according to the type of work performed. Due to the size of the claim and volume of documents provided, Roux selected the top 10% of costs for review and extrapolated the analysis over the remaining costs in environmental, legal, and relocation. In particular, Roux focused on the relocation expenses, as those comprised 69% of the costs claimed. In doing so, Roux was able to provide our clients with appropriate due diligence in a cost-effective manner.

Distribution Asset Assessment & Remediation

Petroleum

Distribution Asset Assessment & Remediation
New Jersey

Roux Associates investigated three refined petroleum product infrastructure facilities subject to New Jersey’s Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA) requirements associated with the sale of assets. After completion of a preliminary assessment and subsequent site investigation activities, Roux’s Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) issued unrestricted use final remediation documents providing regulatory closure for the distribution facility and pipeline.

Roux continues to implement investigation and remediation support associated with a gasoline release and subsequent groundwater plume at the petroleum product station. Key site assessment and remediation work for this project includes soil and groundwater characterization, light non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) investigation and recovery system operation, waste disposal support, Spill Compensation and Recovery Act discharge case management, remedial alternatives analysis, remediation design, regulator interfacing, and facility compliance activities.

CSR Spotlight: Forest Preserve Restoration Workday

Members of Roux’s Oak Brook, Illinois office took part in an office volunteer workday at a local wildlife center and forest preserve. Native seed collection and invasive species removal were conducted along trails at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center, a wildlife rehabilitation center near the Roux Oak Brook office. The Center is home to a butterfly garden along with many nature trails and outdoor exhibits. In addition, the Wildlife Center helps to rehabilitate and release (when possible) injured or abandoned wildlife. Many of our Illinois employees utilize the local forest preserves for recreation.

The native species seed collection included wild bergamot, wingstem, sweet black-eyed susan, and giant hyssop. The collected seeds will be used at other DuPage County Forest Preserve (owner of the Wildlife Center) locations to establish and expand the native species populations in more local areas. In the first two photos, our team is collecting the native seed species in buckets, as the Forest Preserve prefers to keep the various seed species separate.

The Roux volunteers also performed brush cutting of invasive species within the area (third photo). “The invasive species removal we conducted was for honeysuckle,” said Sarah Bassett, Project Engineer. “We used large garden shears and gloves, and made sure to do our safe performance self-assessments.” Sarah was accompanied by other Roux workday participants, Danielle Petkunas, Sandra Walker, and Christine Pietrzyk.

In the past, Roux has donated to the Wildlife Center through their “Adopt an Animal” program. We have adopted three-legged foxes and a woodchuck, and this year we will be adopting a vision-impaired Barred Owl. Keep an eye out for more on the latest workdays, animal adoptions, and conservation efforts from our Oak Brook office.

CSR Spotlight: Unexpected Rescue

One of our many Northeast Brownfields Sites has been home to redevelopment, as well as an unexpected rescue. The Site is approximately 12-acres—the future home of a large enclosed regional mall with four above-grade retail levels and two sub-grade parking levels. Since the project award in 2013, Roux has completed multiple phases of soil and groundwater investigation and developed a Remedial Action Plan (RAP). The RAP consists of a large-scale excavation with off-site disposal or reuse of approximately 70% of soil, with the remaining 30% placed under the new mall to render the impacted soil inaccessible and environmentally isolated. Recently, Roux’s field work has consisted of a Community Air Monitoring Plan (CAMP), excavation oversight, off-site disposal management, and endpoint sampling.

There is one thing that all of our Roux field staff can agree on: no two days are the same. Whether they’re supervising, taking samples, or performing maintenance activities, each day brings new hazards to watch out for, tasks to complete, and data to collect. A new, seemingly typical day at this same Northeast Brownfields Site led the Site’s Field Manager, Nick Palumbo, to make a surprising discovery while performing excavation oversight.

Nick, a Staff Engineer from our Islandia, New York office, began his day watching excavation and site preparation activities unfold. The Site was still full of brush, tall grass, and bushes. While walking up a hill to get a better vantage point of an excavation, he saw a black cat jump out and run off into the woods. On his way down the hill, he then discovered three small kittens under a bush.

“Knowing excavation was going to proceed through this area, I went to the police officer who was working road duty that day and asked him if he knew of any rescue facilities that could pick up the kittens,” Nick said. It turned out that the officer (pictured above) had a contact who rescues stray animals. The rescuer arrived outside the Site within ten minutes, informed Nick and the policeman that the kittens were approximately five weeks old, and safely transported them back to her home nearby.

In effort to reunite the kitten’s mother with her young, Nick later set up a cage trap. Sure enough, the mother cat was in the cage shortly after, and was promptly brought to the rescuer’s home. The woman who rescued the cats kept in touch with Nick, letting him know the kittens were weaned onto kitten food and fully vetted before they were put up for adoption. They now have all been adopted into new homes, while the mother cat is still living with her rescuer. “Excavation ended up occurring in the kitten rescue area later that week,” explained Nick, “so it was a good thing we found them.”

Inspired in part by Nick’s efforts, Roux has been getting more involved with non-profit animal rescue organizations, including our recent hurricane relief fundraiser. Since many of our field staff encounter wildlife daily on our sites, animal protection has been identified as a meaningful and uniting cause for the members of our firm. At each of our offices nationwide, we look forward to partnering with more animal organizations as part of our future CSR efforts.

Roux on Location: Columbia Falls, Montana

In the spring of last year, Roux began a large, ongoing remedial investigation (RI) at a unique site located just outside of Columbia Falls, Montana. The Montana Project RI is focused on determining the nature and extent of contamination caused by a former aluminum smelter, which instead of being housed in an industrial-driven city, is nestled between the breathtaking Glacier National Park, Flathead River, and various national forests. Eager members of our team from several Roux offices participated in assessing the Site, and some even temporarily relocated in Montana to work on the Project long term. The weather, terrain, and wildlife have made Montana a challenging yet intriguing location for environmental work.

The former aluminum smelter, surrounding landfills, and support facilities, in use since 1955, make up about 300 acres of the roughly 3,000-acre property owned by our client. In 2009, operations at the smelter ceased, and Roux Associates was retained in 2014 to begin working on the Site. Our team first developed a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) Work Plan while assisting the client in negotiating an Agreement and Order on Consent (AOC) with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). In 2015 the AOC was finalized, and Roux was retained as the Site’s environmental consultant to lead implementation of the RI/FS.

We began the Phase I Site Characterization program of the RI in 2016, during which we investigated the site hydrogeology and determined whether the former aluminum smelter and on-site landfills had any impact on the surrounding environment. The Project required members of Roux to work in Montana full time from April to September. Each of our staff members played a different, integral role in the process of site investigation. Steve Michalanko, a Senior Scientist from our Logan Township, New Jersey office, visited the Site for a short time to assess ecological conditions. A few of our Principals aided in oversight of the activities in Montana, including Wai Kwan of our Long Beach, California office, along with Drew Baris and Mike Ritorto of our Islandia, New York office.

Mike Ritorto, Principal and RI Project Manager, explained that huge efforts were put in by everyone involved, including the collection of more than 700 samples (soil, sediment, groundwater, surface water, and more) during the RI. While the EPA was the lead agency for the Site, Roux also interacted with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and local residents, who were engaged in the investigation. Mike participated in public meetings, took questions, and informed residents of the small nearby town (about 5,000 people) of our involvement on the Site.

For Drew Baris, Principal-in-Charge, one of the highlights of the Project has been the teamwork and comradery between personnel from all of our offices. Drew noted, “the Montana Project is a great example of how Roux, while not a large firm, can handle the largest and most complex projects when we pool our resources and work as a cohesive team across our offices.”

While Mike and Drew conducted most of their work from our New York office, some of our scientists, geologists, and engineers relocated to Montana for extended periods of time. MaryBeth Lyons, for example, moved to Montana for three weeks in September and four weeks in December. MaryBeth is a Staff Scientist who joined Roux in June of 2014 in our New York office. She enjoyed the inimitable opportunity to work remotely and be self-sufficient so far away from New York, gaining a new experience early in her career. MaryBeth sampled 64 groundwater wells and took sediment and surface water samples from a boat on the Flathead River, adjacent to the Site. The purpose of the river sampling was to assess potential site impacts to the river, and see if anything could potentially affect wildlife. The boat allowed our team to reach sampling points that were unsafe to access on foot; the samples were then transported by boat to the shore across the river and driven in Roux vehicles back to the Site. This sampling and transport method ensured that field staff wouldn’t have to carry large coolers up a steep hill on foot, making a difficult task as safe as possible.

Montana’s topography and climate became challenging aspects of the Project. The accumulation of snow in the winter months made sampling extremely challenging, requiring extensive digging to access sampling locations while experiencing cold temperatures. These challenges required us to reevaluate our approach to sampling activities, and forced us to shift schedules around in order to collect quality samples in a timely manner while weather permitted.

While the outdoor conditions in Montana presented our team with obstacles to overcome, they also offered escape and recreation. “It was a cool setting,” described MaryBeth, “we were close to Glacier National Park, which was a beautiful place to visit on weekends.”

Since last year, MaryBeth has taken part in pneumatic slug testing on-site in March and July. Between the rich industrial history, the opportunity to work and play in complex yet rewarding setting, MaryBeth hopes to remain an active member of the Montana project.

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Many of our employees came and went to and from the Site for a limited time, but Roux sent two members of our staff to relocate in Montana for five months. Amy Hoffmann, Project Geologist from our Woburn, Massachusetts office and Sydney Ward, Project Scientist from our Oakland, California office, packed up and moved for the Project to a state they had never visited.

Amy was our RI Field Manager and Site Health and Safety Office for the Phase I RI. “Montana was such a wonderful opportunity to be involved in,” shared Amy. “Roux really put together a stellar team both in the field and back at home base (our New York office). Having such a cooperative and supportive team was what made the project run so smoothly, and allowed Sydney and I to take the time to enjoy the new surroundings in Montana. I was honored to get the chance to live in Montana and really immerse into a whole different culture than the East Coast.”

Both Amy and Sydney were relocated during the spring-summer season. It was during these warmer months that Sydney and Amy experienced the optimal conditions for sampling during the week and enjoyed the sights on the weekends, including a lot of hiking and biking. During the five months Sydney and Amy spent on-site, they ran the field investigation to evaluate the nature and extent of contamination in soil, soil gas, groundwater, surface water, and sediment at the Site, as well as in neighboring bodies of water. Like MaryBeth, Sydney and Amy experienced sampling from the Flathead River in a small boat, and sampled additional rivers, creeks, and ponds. Their work also included drilling, installing monitoring wells, collecting soil samples and sampling groundwater monitoring wells, and performing a geophysical survey of the subsurface across the Site.

“I relocated from my home in San Francisco, where I live in a relatively busy city neighborhood,” said Sydney, who always wanted to travel to Montana for its recreational opportunities. “In Columbia Falls, Amy and I lived in a community full of vacation homes, which was sparsely populated until about the fourth of July. We were surrounded by mountains, open space, and farms outside of our neighborhood, as well as our industrial site several miles down the road.”

After having worked at our firm for over five years, Sydney identifies the Montana Project as her best experience at Roux. “It was extremely rewarding moving forward with a fast-paced, extensive scope of work on a complex site,” she said. “We were fortunate to have a good on-site client observing our work and progress, as well as a strong team back in New York overseeing and managing the work.”

In addition to outdoor recreation and the nature of the work she performed, Sydney enjoyed the scenery and wildlife sightings—although some were friendlier than others. Our team in Montana saw eagles, turkeys, moose, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and some saw bears. Those who worked on the Montana Project, including Sydney, carried bear spray on-site in certain areas where bears were known to frequent, just in case.


From left to right: Mike Ritorto (NY), Annelise Muscietta (NY), Amy Hoffmann (MA), and Sydney Ward (CA) 

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Overall, Roux’s Phase I RI activities performed in 2016 included: geophysical surveys, soil gas surveys, ground-penetrating radar (GPR), soil sampling, groundwater monitoring well installation, asbestos landfill test pitting, borrow pit area test pitting, and surface and groundwater sampling, and our work is ongoing. Four rounds of groundwater and surface water sampling have been completed as of July 2017. Our 2017 work also includes reporting and work plan preparations. Next year, a Phase II RI will commence, and additional RI/FS work will be conducted over the next three to four years. At Roux, we look forward to offering more work opportunities in Montana and beyond to our capable staff members, who are eager to continue helping solve our clients’ most complex environmental challenges.

CSR Spotlight: Ronald McDonald House

The Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, established in 1974, was the first of its kind in the world. It was co-founded by Dr. Audrey Evans, a former pediatric oncologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Jimmy Murray, former General Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles. The idea was to create a home away from home for families of seriously ill children by creating a community of comfort and hope. There are now over 365 Houses in 43 countries worldwide, including two locations in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House strives to ease the daily burdens faced by families of sick children so that they can focus on the well-being of their child and their family. At the House, families receive a variety of services and support from the staff and many volunteers. One example is the home-cooked dinners served every night, thanks to the generosity of volunteers. At the Front & Erie House, near St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Shriners Hospital for Children, 35-40 people attend dinner each night.

On Monday, August 14, 2017, volunteers from the Roux Associates’ Southern New Jersey office brought in dinner from a local favorite, Deke’s BBQ, to serve to the guests.  Volunteers enjoyed a tour of the House, loading plates with pulled pork, chopped chicken, BBQ zucchini bake, mashed potatoes, and successfully convinced some of the kids to try the sautéed veggies!