Dedicated to providing environmental compliance through a combination of science, proven technology, regulatory knowledge, and hard work.
BlackRock Environmental, LLC (BlackRock) was founded to provide Pennsylvania banking, real estate, and legal professionals, as well as commercial and industrial business people, sound answers to today’s challenging environmental issues. We approach everything we do, from Phase I Environmental Site Assessments to the design and implementation of remediation systems, as a unique challenge. Our mission is to provide you with the best environmental risk management tools for your site in a professional and cost-effective manner. Our success depends on the completion of your deals, and the protection of your interests. We know how to help you manage your risk and still close the deal.
BlackRock was established to provide an alternative to the large regional and national environmental firms. We provide environmental solutions in a time and cost-effective manner because Pennsylvania is our focus. An experienced professional will handle every aspect of your assessment. We understand that time savings and experience-backed problem solving add to your bottom line just as effectively as a good price. As a small environmental firm, we can provide flexible turn-around times and innovative solutions with very little overhead. You get the solutions your project needs in the time you need it for a very competitive fee.
Interaction with Environmental Agencies
BlackRock’s has discovered that not only does each of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) six (6) Regional Offices interpret the environmental laws and regulations differently; the viewpoints of individual project managers in a given regional office may vary. Therefore, BlackRock’s experience and working relationships in Pennsylvania with various DEP case managers offers our clients improved management abilities that regional and national consulting firms cannot offer. With the regulatory variations and complexities varying from state to state, BlackRock’s approach is to dedicate our resources to Pennsylvania clientele.
Unlike many of our competitors, which develop their own protocols or follow no set standards, BlackRock follows the standard procedures developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). By utilizing ASTM’s industry-accepted standards, BlackRock can ensure clientele that our work is valid and is legally defendable. The following provides a partial list of some of the more common ASTM standard procedures utilized by BlackRock:
- § E1689-95(2014) Standard Guide for Developing Conceptual Site Models for Contaminated Sites
- § D4448 – 01(2013) Standard Guide for Sampling Ground-Water Monitoring Wells
- § E1739-95(2010)e1 Standard Guide for Risk-Based Corrective Action Applied at Petroleum Release Sites
- § E1943-98(2015) Standard Guide for Remediation of Ground Water by Natural Attenuation at Petroleum Release Sites
- § D2487-11 Standard Classification of Soils for Engineering Purposes (Unified Soil Classification System)
- § D5782-95(2012) Standard Guide for Use of Direct Air-Rotary Drilling for Geoenvironmental Exploration and the Installation of Subsurface Water-Quality Monitoring Devices
- § D5783-95(2012) Standard Guide for Use of Direct Rotary Drilling with Water-Based Drilling Fluid for Geoenvironmental Exploration and the Installation of Subsurface Water-Quality Monitoring Devices
- § D5784-95(2006) Standard Guide for Use of Hollow-Stem Augers for Geoenvironmental Exploration and the Installation of Subsurface Water-Quality Monitoring Devices
- § D5872-95(2006) Standard Guide for Use of Casing Advancement Drilling Methods for Geoenvironmental Exploration and Installation of Subsurface Water-Quality Monitoring Devices
- § D6151-08 Standard Practice for Using Hollow-Stem Augers for Geotechnical Exploration and Soil Sampling
- § ASTM D6282 / D6282M – 14 Standard Guide for Direct Push Soil Sampling for Environmental Site Characterizations
- § D6001-05(2012) Standard Guide for Direct-Push Groundwater Sampling for Environmental Site Characterization
- § D6169/D6169M-13 Standard Guide for Selection of Soil and Rock Sampling Devices Used With Drill Rigs for Environmental Investigations
- § D1452-09 Standard Practice for Soil Exploration and Sampling by Auger Borings
- § D1586-11 Standard Test Method for Standard Penetration Test (SPT) and Split-Barrel Sampling of Soils
- § ASTM D4220-95(2007) Standard Practices for Preserving and Transporting Soil Samples
- § D4840-99(2010) Standard Guide for Sample Chain-of-Custody Procedures
- § D5787-95(2009) Standard Practice for Monitoring Well Protection
- § D5521/D5521M-13 Standard Guide for Development of Groundwater Monitoring Wells in Granular Aquifers
- § D4750-87(2001) Standard Test Method for Determining Subsurface Liquid Levels in a Borehole or Monitoring Well (Observation Well)
- § D5088-02(2008) Standard Practice for Decontamination of Field Equipment Used at Waste Sites
In short, by combining the best available technologies, positive relationships with regulatory agencies and an unyielding desire to satisfy our clients, BlackRock ranks among the best in Pennsylvania to meet the dynamic challenges of environmental compliance.
Mr. David Crowther, PG, the founder and President of BlackRock, has been providing consulting and remedial services to both the private and public sectors in the hazardous waste and environmental fields since 1994. As president, Mr. Crowther directs the operations of the firm and is intimately involved in all projects. Mr. Crowther provides technical expertise in assessing regulatory compliance alternatives and developing pragmatic solutions to problems related to the contaminated properties. Mr. Crowther is also responsible to all clients for the quality of service performed by the firm.
With the passage of the Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act (Act 2), the DEP presented the environmental community with the challenge of cleaning up contaminated sites based on sound science. Since Mr. Crowther is a licensed Professional Geologist, he is capable of providing the educational background as well as the regulatory experience to competently clean up and “close” contaminated sites. Mr. Crowther not only has a solid understanding of Act 2, but also the Administration of the Land Recycling Program (25 Pa Code Chapter 250) regulations which provide the technical requirements of Act 2. Furthermore, Mr. Crowther has proficient knowledge of the Technical Guidance Manual developed by the DEP to further satisfy the requirements of ACT 2 and Chapter 250. Mr. Crowther has successfully managed over 100 Act 2 sites, ultimately obtaining a Release of Liability from the DEP for the property owners.
Underground storage tanks (USTs) containing regulated petroleum products and hazardous substances can create significant legal and financial liabilities. Mr. Crowther has extensive knowledge of the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act (Act 32) and Corrective Action Process (CAP) regulations (25 Pa Code Chapter 245.301245.314). In addition, since contaminated UST sites are required by the DEP to be remediated to an Act 2 Standard, Mr. Crowther is fully capable of providing the scientific and technical expertise to effectively remediate the site and obtain an Act 2 Relief of Liability for the property owner/operator. Mr. Crowther has successfully managed over 100 storage tank sites ultimately obtaining a Relief of Liability from the DEP for the property owners.
Mr. Crowther has been in the environmental consulting industry for over 20 years and has assisted more than 400 clients in Pennsylvania managing their environmental problems. Through his network of experienced, licensed subcontractors (e.g., excavators, drilling companies, disposal and recycling facilities, laboratories, and remediation equipment suppliers), Mr. Crowther can provide turnkey solutions to environmental issues.
Mr. Crowther graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and received a Bachelor of Science degree in both Geology and Earth Science. Currently, Mr. Crowther is a Pennsylvania exam-licensed Professional Geologist (License No. PG003797) and a member of the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists.
Unlike other companies with long lists of services, we specialize in the following four (4) areas
Phase I Environmental Site Assessments
A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is a non-intrusive (usually no soil or groundwater samples are collected) assessment of the existing conditions, the historical use of the subject property, and the known sites of environmental concern in the vicinity of the subject property. The Phase I ESA generally includes a walkover to assess the current conditions, a review of various historical sources, a search of government databases of sites of known environmental concern, and interviews with various local and state government agency personnel. If sites of known environmental concern are identified in the vicinity of the subject property, a review of available environmental records for the identified sites may be appropriate.
Generally under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), purchasers and lessees of environmentally contaminated properties were historically jointly and severely liable for the contamination associated with the property unless they performed “all appropriate inquiry (AAI) into the previous ownership and uses of the property consistent with good commercial or customary practice” and had no reason to suspect the property was contaminated. The purpose of the Phase I ESA was to meet the “all appropriate inquiry” requirement to qualify for CERCLA liability protection. Any property purchasers seeking the CERLA liability protection must conduct AAI prior to taking title in order to raise a defense as any of the following: innocent landowner; contiguous property owner; or bona fide prospective purchaser.
Congress’ Statutory Language for Mandatory Components of “All Appropriate Inquiry”
- The results of an inquiry by an environmental professional.
- Interviews with past and present owners, operators, and occupants of the facility for the purpose of gathering information regarding the potential for contamination at the facility.
- Reviews of historical sources, such as chain of title documents, aerial photographs, building department records and land use records, to determine previous uses and occupancies of the real property since the property was first developed.
- Searches for recorded environmental cleanup liens against the facility that are filed under federal, state or local law.
- Reviews of federal, state and local government records, waste disposal records, underground storage tank records, and hazardous waste handling, generation, treatment, disposal and spill records concerning contamination at or near the facility.
- Visual inspections of the facility and of adjoining properties.
- Specialized knowledge or experience on the part of the defendant.
- The relationship of the purchase price to the value of the property, if the property was not contaminated.
- Commonly known or reasonably ascertainable information about the property.
- The degree of obviousness of the presence or likely presence of contamination at the property, and the ability to detect the contamination by appropriate investigation.
Source: Federal Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, signed into law on January 11, 2002.
Over time Phase I ESA’s have become a tool for the assessment of business risks associated with environmental contamination, as well as a tool for addressing potential CERCLA liability. BlackRock performs Phase I ESAs in accordance with the requirements of the ASTM Standard E1527-13 entitled “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process.”
Underground Storage Tank Corrective Action Compliance
Regulated underground storage tanks (USTs) fall under Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program. The Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act (Act 32 of 1989, as amended) and the Corrective Action Process regulations (25 Pa Code Chapter 245.301-245.314) established release reporting and corrective action requirements for owners and operators of regulated aboveground and underground storage tanks and other responsible parties. The CAP regulations include requirements for confirming or disproving suspected releases; reporting releases; determining the extent of soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater contamination; taking necessary actions to abate risks to human health and the environment; taking steps to prevent further migration of the released substance into the environment; restoring or replacing affected or diminished water supplies; and storing contaminated soil at the site of the release.
All owners and operators of aboveground and underground storage tanks regulated under Act 32 and other responsible parties must comply with the CAP regulations. Furthermore, the CAP process applies to releases from regulated tanks for which remediation was initiated on or after August 5th, 1989, the effective date of Act 32. Any release for which remediation was initiated before August 5th, 1989, must follow the Act 2 process.
Since Act 32 and the CAP regulations do not provide cleanup standards, Act 2 cleanup standards must be used. Therefore, BlackRock’s knowledge of Act 2 provides our clients with an advantage over most underground storage tank specialty contractors.
Currently, the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund (USTIF) has approved over 200 Pay for Performance cleanups in Pennsylvania. The pay for performance concept consists of a bidding process where the winning contract is awarded based on a “fixed fee” contract versus a typical “time and materials” contract. A pay for performance contract rewards the winning consulting firm for reaching predetermined cleanup criteria quickly and efficiently. In turn, the property owner does not suffer through years of remediation, change orders, escalating fees, and potentially running out of funding for the project. BlackRock welcomes all bid invitations at pay for performance projects.
Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program encourages the recycling and redevelopment of old industrial sites (Brownfields). It sets standards, by law for the first time, that are protective of human health and the environment, but which consider future use.
Act 2 of 1995 is the Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act. This act is the primary law establishing the Land Recycling Program. It creates a realistic framework for setting cleanup standards, provides special incentives for developing abandoned sites, releases responsible parties from liability when cleanup standards are met, set deadlines for Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) action and provides funding for environmental studies and cleanups.
The four cornerstones of the Land Recycling Program are uniform cleanup standards based on health and environmental risks, standardized review procedures, release from liability, and financial assistance. The three types of cleanups are background, Statewide health, and site-specific.
BlackRock’s approach to the Land Recycling Program is to provide the scientific services required by Act 2. Although the legislature passed Act 2 into law, scientists (including geologists, chemists, engineers, and toxicologists) established detailed framework for the law and corresponding regulations. At BlackRock, we provide our clients with the scientific services to efficiently “close” the project to obtain an Act 2 Release of Liability regardless of whether the contamination consists of petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, chlorinated solvents, polychlorinated bi-phenyls (PCB’s), or pesticides and herbicides.
Sinkhole Risk Assessments
Sinkholes are a common, naturally occurring geologic feature and one of the most obvious landforms throughout Northampton and Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Sinkhole collapse poses hazards to property and the environment. It is often important to be able to evaluate the risk of sinkhole collapse for a specific site, for insurance purposes, for pre-purchase evaluation, for land planning purpose, and for development of the site. Even after a road or a building is in place, such a risk analysis can help determine whether the ground may collapse.
Subsidence is the sinking or collapse of a portion of the land surface. The mechanisms of collapse, and sometimes the conditions existing before the collapse, result from natural physical processes. Groundwater facilitates ground collapse through dissolution of limestone and other carbonate rocks. These rocks are nearly insoluble in pure water but are readily dissolved by carbonic acid, a common constituent of rainwater. The weathering attack occurs mainly along fractures and other partings and openings in the carbonate bedrock. The resulting features include caves, sinkholes, and karst topography. In many cases, the conditions leading up to a subsidence event are exacerbated or even created by human actions.
A sinkhole is a large dissolution cavity that is open to the sky. The formation of sinkholes can be due either to the sudden wholesale collapse of the roof of a cave or by a more gradual downward movement of unconsolidated material into an open, chimney-like passageway. The downward movement of material eventually leaves the roof materials unsupported; surface fractures begin to develop and the roof eventually collapses.
Sinkholes are enlarged whenever groundwater levels are high, but the pressure of the water in the caverns and passageways helps support the weight of the overlying rocks. Collapse results from the lowering of the water table due to drought and/or excessive pumping of water wells which leaves underground spaces and passageways unsupported, facilitating the collapse of the overlying rocks.
The terrain that is characterized by the presence of caverns and sinkholes is called karst topography. The most common type of karst terrain is sinkhole karst, a landscape dotted with closely spaced circular collapse basins of various sizes and shapes. Several factors control the development of karst landscapes:
- The topography must permit the flow of groundwater through soluble rock under the pull of gravity.
- Precipitation must be adequate to supply the groundwater system
- Soil and plant cover must supply an adequate amount of carbon dioxide (to make carbonic acid from rainwater)
- Temperatures must be high enough to promote dissolution
New sinkholes are widely viewed as random, unpredictable geologic phenomena. However, BlackRock’s experience suggests that the general probability of having one sinkhole develop is dependent on the area of the site, new sinkhole distribution, and the sinkhole size. BlackRock’s staff of licensed Professional Geologists performs sinkhole risk assessments in karst using qualitative analysis based on physiographic, geomorphic, geologic and hydrogeologic information.