Vapor Intrusion Guidance for Petroleum Sites Draws Criticism Over Proposed Changes

December 6, 2012 – In The News
Bloomberg BNA

State regulators and industry groups say they are concerned by the Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to craft guidance for assessing vapor intrusion at petroleum-contaminated sites that is more conservative than a version the agency previously indicated it would publish.

The concerns center on the depth of soil that is needed to cover underground storage tanks and delineation of a lateral inclusion zone, the are surrounding a mass of underground contamination through which petroleum vapors may travel, intrude into building and potentially threaten human health and the environment, according to EPA.

“Based on what I've seen of the [petroleum vapor intrusion] document, it seems to make sense for EPA to put it out for public comment beyond the limited group that now seems to be reviewing it,” Christopher Roe, an attorney with Fox Rothschild, told BNA Dec. 4.

Bruce Bauman, an environmental scientist with the American Petroleum Institute, agreed, saying, “it would have been far more productive for EPA to publish draft guidance for formal public comment.”

“Hopefully, EPA will provide sufficient documentation of the science behind their reasoning” for making the changes it did and “allow stakeholders to assess that reasoning and offer technical justifications as to why the original 15 feet guidance was correct,” he said.

In its statement to BNA, EPA said it has made “substantial progress during the past year in preparing the final guidance for the vapor intrusion pathway, including considering and addressing extensive and substantive public comments received in 2011 and 2012.”