Private Property, Freehold, New Jersey

Expert Services Associated with the Offsite Migration of Gasoline-Related Groundwater Contamination

Excel was retained to prepare an Expert Report on behalf of a residential property owner regarding the environmental condition of their properties resulting from the migration of contaminated groundwater caused by a discharge of gasoline from a neighboring property.  This Report was prepared to provide expert technical opinions relating to the environmental condition of the client’s properties affected by the discharge, the source of groundwater contamination migrating onto the properties, and the affect of this contamination on the use and value of the properties.

Since previous environmental work had already established that groundwater quality beneath the client’s properties was contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as a result of discharges from leaking gasoline underground storage tanks (USTs) and a heating oil UST located on neighboring properties, Excel was asked to provide a technical and regulatory opinion regarding the adequacy of the work conducted on the neighboring properties in addressing the offsite contamination to groundwater beneath our client’s properties, the affect of these discharges on the groundwater quality at our client’s properties, and the affect of the groundwater contamination on the value of the properties and potential for future residential development of the properties.

The Expert Report prepared by Excel successfully concluded that while the existing environmental regulations do not preclude residential development over existing groundwater contamination, the regulations do contain specific requirements with regards to VOC contaminants in groundwater and the potential for vapor intrusion that would affect the timeline and cost of residential development when groundwater contamination exists beneath a property.  In addition, significant delay in addressing the source of contamination and implementing a remedial action left the groundwater contamination uncontrolled resulting in free-phase gasoline occurring on the client’s properties and long-term contamination of groundwater.

It was further concluded that the existence of groundwater contamination that would remain for the foreseeable future translates to uncertainty for potential purchasers of the contaminated properties and prospective lenders during pre-acquisition due diligence.  The presence of contaminants such as benzene raises human health concerns for prospective purchasers and provides a basis for significant environmental concern and uncertainty and thereby environmental and/or remediation stigma.  The environmental and/or remediation stigma associated with a property typically results in a reduction in demand for the property thereby causing a reduction in the potential sale price and/or a delay in the sale of the property.