A 17-acre site near Cincinnati, Ohio was home to a variety of industrial uses throughout the twentieth century. Most recently, the site was home to the Kahn's/Sara Lee meat processing and packing operations. The plant, which shut down in 2006 just before Sara Lee Corporation gave the property to Hamilton County, was once one of the nation’s largest slaughterhouses and meatpacking operations. The redeveloped site is slated to become home to a new, modern manufacturing facility.

SME provided environmental services including site investigation, remedial design and monitoring, and risk assessment, during the demolition and remediation of the site. The project was partially funded by a $3,000,000 Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund (CORF) grant issued to Hamilton County, Ohio. SME implemented the Remedial Action Plan and obtained a No Further Action (NFA) Letter under the Ohio Voluntary Action Program (VAP).

Prior to SME’s involvement and after the CORF grant had been issued, the Hamilton County and their consultant mistakenly involved the state underground storage tank (UST) regulators with the planned removal of unregulated USTs. The state filed an enforcement order requiring extensive additional investigation of the USTs and possible expensive remediation that was not included in the CORF budget. The enforcement order prevented the property from participating in the VAP, a requirement of the CORF grant. SME successfully negotiated with the state to rescind the enforcement order and allow the project to be successfully completed.

SME also identified specific data gaps in the Phase I and Phase II assessments performed for the previous owner prior to our involvement. The gaps were addressed, allowing the property to meet the due diligence standards of the state, not just those related to remediation. Additional Phase II activities demonstrated that several areas did not require remediation while another previously undiscovered area required further action. SME prepared remedial specifications and remedial contract bidding, and conducted remedial project administration and monitoring.

During remediation of the soil to eliminate vapor intrusion risk, impacted groundwater that could have presented a potential risk was discovered. The CORF grant budget was insufficient to address this impact. For an economical yet effective solution, SME used mushroom mulch to backfill the remedial excavation, which provided bacteria and fungus to degrade the impact and provide a carbon-rich substrate to absorb chemical vapors that could migrate into overlying buildings.

Following remediation, SME performed the risk assessment. Upon project completion, major environmental problems had been addressed on schedule and under budget. The Ohio EPA ultimately issued a Covenant Not to Sue for the property under the VAP, successfully completing the $5,000,000 project. The Covenant protects the owner and future owners from being legally responsible to the state for future investigation and cleanup, as long as the property is maintained in the same manner as when the covenant was issued.

SME, lead by Keith Egan, was a great pleasure to work with. All too often in the industry, as a property owner, you dread hearing from the environmental consultants, but this was not the case with SME. Communication is vital in this sector and SME excelled in this. Updates were communicated in real time along with helpful recommendations that included a variety of paths forward but in language that I could discern.

Keith’s great strength is his ability to quickly and accurately analyze a situation and provide multiple options for complete resolution. I admire Keith for his ability to understand my needs as property owner on various projects that all had different timelines and budgets.

When you need to trust that you will be a partner in the process of attending to your environmental needs on your property, you are in good standing if you go with SME and Keith Egan. Expect to be informed, respected, and cared for with SME. Your time, money, and risks are at the forefront of SME’s concerns and you can sleep well at night knowing that your property is in excellent hands.

Matthew R. Lafkas