Effective Use of the Absurd

Reductio ad absurdum, or argument to absurdity is the platform on which many activist groups effectively market their message. For example, This manufacturing company discharged a toxic substance in the groundwater, therefore, all manufacturing companies are “big polluters,” so help our cause to close all manufacturing plants.

Animal Rights Activists have used the same approach with success. They find the examples of “bad actors” in farming point and to them and say…farmers at “factory farms” abuse animals, therefore, all large farms are bad, so help our cause to close all factory farms.

It’s unfortunate that groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) can find even one example, let alone several regarding animal abuse to further their mission.  Animal abuse is not justifiable…period.  I’ve yet to talk to a farmer or non-farmer who would say otherwise.  But abuse happens, and PETA is more than happy to make effective use of these examples.  They have an impressive PR machine and plenty of money (total revenue in 2012 reported at $31,014,236) to further their effort.  And, with social media at their disposal, their Reductio ad absurdum arguments travel around the world before farming groups have a chance to catch their breath.

PETA’s most recent video is “Factory Farming in 60-Seconds Flat.”  This 60-second video is disturbing, and, if you are PETA, it’s effective in suggesting the absurd:  that is, all large-scale farming abuses animals; won’t you help us stop it?

At the end of this video PETA states, “If you buy milk, eggs, meat, you’re supporting this. Now that you know, what will you do? And who will you share this with?”  Reductio ad absurdum, used very effectively!

On the environmental front, keep a very watchful eye on the Total Maximum Daily Load issue.  It has been in the news in two prominent cases recently and could have a very significant impact on farming.  To see a commentary on one of the Midwest TMDL issues, see this article by attorney Gary Baise.

Are you up against a tough environmental regulatory issue now?  Are you facing unreasonable requests by regulators?  If you don’t think your current environmental consultants are acting in your best interest, we can help.  Ask senior environmental advisor, Jeffrey Bolin, M.S., CHMM about a Peer Review.  You can reach Jeff at 248-932-0228 ext 125.

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Should you use ASTM E1527-13 for CERCLA Liability Protection?

On November 6, 2013, ASTM International, Inc. (ASTM) approved the long-awaited ASTM E1527-13, the Standard Practice for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments.  As far as ASTM is concerned, the new E1527-13 officially replaces the 2005 version (E1527-05).  However, if your environmental due diligence goal includes receiving Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) liability protection under the federal All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI), E1527-13 may not be your best choice.

ASTM considers E1527-13 to have immediately replaced E1527-05.  But from the perspective of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the AAI Rule states that E1527-05 may be used to comply with CERCLA. 

While the EPA will reportedly be formally revising the AAI Rule to recognize E1527-13, they have not done so at the time of this writing.  So, until EPA updates AAI, it may be best to continue to use E1527-05 if the goal includes CERCLA liability protection.

Our advice is to formulate a path forward with input from your environmental advisors (environmental consultants and legal counsel) that will afford you the appropriate liability protection.

If you have questions about environmental due diligence, including Phase I or Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, contact Mark Resch (mresch@dragun.com) or Jeff Bolin, M.S., CHMM (jbolin@dragun.com) at 248-932-0228.

(Thanks to Mark Resch for providing the content of this blog entry)

The Most Recent Vapour Intrusion Guidance for Ontario

On September 26, 2013, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) published a “Draft Technical Guidance: Soil Vapour Intrusion Assessment” (http://www.downloads.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/er/documents/2013/011-2912.pdf).

This new document (which replaces the November 2010 document), is still labeled as “Draft.”  However, it should be carefully considered, especially if you have potential vapour intrusion (VI) issues.  Also, unlike the 2010 version, the 2013 guidance document has a publication number (8477) and does not have the disclaimer “Do Not Cite or Distribute.”  Does this suggest that this guidance document will also be accompanied by more “regulatory enforcement teeth”?  If you have a potential VI issue that may be affected by this new guidance document, you may want to consult with your legal counsel.

When comparing the 2013 guidance to the 2010 version, the following differences are noted:

  • Chapter 7 (Methods for Discerning Contributions of Background from Indoor Sources) was removed.  This chapter may have been removed to avoid suggesting any specific method.
  • Changes to the “Recommended Health-Based Indoor Air Target Levels for Selected VOCs” in Appendix IV (Note: This was incorrectly listed in the Table of Contents as Appendix VI)

1. Higher Criteria values for Petroleum Hydrocarbons (PHC) F1 and F2.
2. New Criteria for cis-1,2 trichloroethylene (1,2-DCE) and trans-1,2-DCE – previously there were no criteria listed in Appendix IV.
3. New Criteria for PHC-F2 Aromatic (>C12-C16) and Aliphatic (>C12-C16) – previously there were no criteria listed in Appendix IV.

We often refer to VI as a potential Pandora’s Box when not approached with the proper scientific and strategic rigor for good reason; don’t undertake any VI assessment without a well-reasoned plan.  If you have questions about VI and what it could mean to your site assessment and remediation efforts, contact Dr. Khaled Chekiri (kchekiri@dragun.com) or Andrew Tymec (atymec@dragun.com) at 519-979-7300.