Roux at Work: Award Winning Brownfield Cleanup Project
Recently, one of Roux’s brownfield redevelopment projects in Brooklyn, New York was awarded the 2017 Big Apple Brownfield Award for Innovation by the New York City Brownfield Partnership. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a brownfield as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” To put it in the most simplistic terms possible, brownfield sites need to be cleaned up, much like many of the sites we work on at Roux. The difference lies in the “expansion, redevelopment, or reuse”—brownfields are getting cleaned up with the purpose of creating new buildings (including residential or commercial spaces, universities, and many more), adding value to the surrounding community.
Roux’s Noelle Clarke, the Principal Engineer on the Brooklyn brownfield site, is a Manhattan College graduate who has been working at our firm for 19 years. As the Principal Engineer for the Site, Noelle evaluated site remediation alternatives, prepared technical documents, and reviewed and sealed all documents needed for submittal to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Our remediation was completed under the NYSDEC’s Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP), which encourages private-sector cleanups of brownfields for redevelopment and revitalization in economically struggling communities.
Noelle’s extensive work on the Site included preparing the Remedial Action Work Plan (RAWP), remedial design documents, Final Engineering Report (FER), and Site Management Plan (SMP). During construction, Roux had full-time field managers on-site operating under Noelle’s direction to ensure the plans were carried out correctly. This field presence, as well as her weekly site visits, allowed Noelle to certify the FER, which documented all aspects of the remediation. While Noelle created and reviewed plans, overseeing their execution, a new building was in the process of being built on-site. As brownfield sites normally call for a hasty cleanup, this was one of our expected yet difficult challenges. To get past the many hurdles of remediating a site amid construction, Noelle and David Bligh, a Senior Engineer at Roux, spent much time on the phone with regulators to expedite design document approvals to make sure building construction could continue.
Roux’s remediation was needed since the soil, groundwater, and soil vapor at the Site were contaminated with dry cleaning chemicals, calling for multiple treatment methods. A Community Air Monitoring Plan (CAMP) for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dust, and odor was put in place, and odor suppressant foam was routinely sprayed on soil piles on-site to further control any possible odors. To remediate the soil, we used a unique process: slurry (a thick semiliquid mixture) made up of cement and bentonite clay was pumped into holes in the ground as they were dug out, which secured the walls of the holes and allowed us to easily excavate the contaminated soil. This innovative method solved one of the most pivotal site challenges, removing soil from 35 feet below grade next to a 100-year-old building without requiring extensive dewatering. In addition, zero valent iron or ZVI was used to create a permeable reactive barrier wall to passively treat groundwater. The ZVI treatment chemically reduces the amount of chlorinated solvents in groundwater, and has been used for many years to treat dry cleaning contamination.
Roux completed all remedial measures within the desired timeframe, and the Site was awarded a Certificate of Completion from the NYSDEC in 2015. The Brooklyn Site construction is complete as well, which is now a seven-story mixed use residential and commercial building. There are retail shops on the ground floor and the remaining floors are residential, a portion of which is affordable housing.
When asked about the project and its challenges, Noelle commented, “I’ve been at Roux for 19 years, and it’s never boring. There’s always something different and new to learn.” The diligent work put in by Noelle and the supporting Roux team (including Joe Duminuco, Ron Lombino, and Levi Curnutte) helped our client meet their goals on time and on budget, adding value to the community, and transforming a previously underutilized space.
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