Category: General

James Abraham III Joins Aarcher Consulting as Environmental Protection Specialist

We are pleased to announce that James Abraham III has joined Aarcher Consulting as Environmental Protection Specialist, supporting ongoing operations and client services.

James is a performance-driven professional with more than 28 years of continuous advancement and expertise. His environmental and safety experience will further strengthen Aarcher Consulting compliance assistance capabilities. James has supported federal and private-sector clients, both in a consulting capacity and as an on-site environmental compliance, permitting, and safety professional. He has significant experience implementing hazardous materials and waste management standard operating procedures; pollution prevention initiatives; sampling and analysis processes; environmental compliance and safety audits; water resource management strategies; spill response planning; and environmental management system development.

Aarcher Consulting Promotes AdriAnn Rode to Deputy Program Manager

Aarcher Consulting

Denver, Colorado (March 7, 2024)

AdriAnn Rode, Deputy Program Manager, Aarcher ConsultingAarcher Consulting, an environmental consulting services firm for more than 25 years, announced today the promotion of AdriAnn Rode to Deputy Program Manager of the firm’s Denver Division operations. In this role, AdriAnn will support all aspects of ongoing operations and client services, including operational performance, personnel management, technical product quality, client satisfaction, and business development.

AdriAnn is a dedicated and results-oriented Senior Consultant and Program Manager with extensive expertise in sustainability, environmental compliance, and due diligence. She has a proven track record in overseeing regulatory environmental compliance audits and developing comprehensive environmental management programs for governmental agencies and national commercial clients. AdriAnn has held progressively responsible positions in the environmental consulting arena since 1997, directing environmental consulting staff, monitoring quality, and driving team development and growth.

AdriAnn holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Chemistry from Missouri State University, a Graduate Certificate in Management for Sustainable Business, and an MBA in Sustainable Business Management from Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla. She is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) and serves as adjunct professor in the Environmental Management and Policy Master’s program at the University of Denver.

Evaluating Environmental Compliance in Layers

Evaluating Environmental Compliance in Layers

Based on our experience conducting environmental compliance audits for hundreds of facilities over the past 25 years, perspectives on environmental compliance evolve and become more nuanced over time for many organizations, in some cases moving from fundamental regulatory compliance to systems and processes that ensure the organization stays ahead of baseline challenges continually and indefinitely.

For some, acquiring necessary environmental permits, preparing required facility plans, and implementing the associated step-by-step implementation actions is the primary objective and sole focus of environmental management efforts. When this basic compliance is achieved, some recognize that backsliding is probably inevitable over time. In most cases, backsliding is a result of reduced focus on required actions after an initial compliance push, turnover in management and staff, changing regulations, outdated staff training, and changing facility operations. A refreshed emphasis on environmental compliance and a surge of effort can often get things back on track, but some view backsliding or continuing compliance challenges as an indication that environmental management processes have not been adequately institutionalized. To identify actions that would benefit from a permanent, institutional approach, many turn to analyses of overall compliance trends and root causes at that point. Where well-developed and institutionalized environmental compliance management systems exist, some take the next step and recognize that environmental regulations represent minimum requirements and decide to pursue environmental performance in its own right, leaving compliance challenges behind forever.

While we believe that all organizations are somewhere on this trajectory, not all will reach the end of this path. Facility and organization environmental compliance programs stop or hit an extended pause at any of these stages due to different leadership perspectives, business objectives, and a plethora of other factors. Enter an environmental compliance audit program.

Environmental compliance audits are initiated by regulated organizations and facilities for a variety of reasons, but the approach and results of these audits are deeply affected by the stage of environmental compliance management in which the facility is currently operating. For example, if environmental programs are fairly new, auditors may discover missing permits or plans. Audits of more developed environmental programs might identify deviations in plan implementations or details of permit requirements that indicate a lack of understanding or possible backsliding. Audits of more developed and established programs sometimes identify deficiencies that reveal problems with operating procedures, training, or other underlying systems.

Environmental compliance audits are too often performed without consideration of where the facility is in terms of program development, missing opportunities to increase the value of audit results, reduce audit costs, and ensure audit results are well-received at all levels within the organization. Where recurring audits are performed, which is the norm today, audit teams can adjust their approach to correspond to the maturity of the environmental program and “peel the onion” with each subsequent audit to maximize value to the audited entity.

Aarcher Consulting Selected to Present at the 2021 EHS Operational Excellence Conference

Aarcher Consulting Selected to Present at the 2021 EHS Operational Excellence ConferenceAarcher Consulting is proud to have been selected to present at the prestigious 2021 EHS Operational Excellence Conference, hosted by the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM), on March 10.

Aarcher’s President Craig Schwartz and Division Manager Gabrielle McDonald will share their expertise during the conference session, Case Study: Virtual Auditing Realities from Every Angle. They will be joined by Dominic Masinelli and Joe Gallagher, environmental compliance specialists at Trident Seafoods Corp.

EHS leaders have had to learn how to stay in compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have become experts in conducting virtual audits to monitor the environmental compliance status of remote facilities and at-sea operations when access is not allowed. During this presentation, attendees will learn the opportunities and challenges of virtual auditing and hear insights into the audit process.

The 2021 EHS Operational Excellence Conference, held online March 10-11, will focus on best practices for EHS professionals during the pandemic and how EHS leaders are managing the next phase of coronavirus response plans. The event will also cover other EHS management topics, such as the impact the Biden administration will have on the approach to regulatory compliance and tools EHS leaders are using to work in a remote environment.

At Aarcher Consulting, we are compliance auditing experts with the ability to perform comprehensive environmental and safety audits that go beyond the norm. Our teams consistently deliver accurate and reliable audit results and practical corrective action recommendations, which can be integrated with on-the-spot staff training, management recommendations, root cause analysis, EMS evaluation, pollution prevention opportunity identification, and instant reporting.

For more than 20 years, we have performed hundreds of environmental and safety compliance audits for manufacturers, commercial facilities, and federal agencies in every U.S. state. Based on our experience and expertise, Aarcher has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, and several states to serve as Third-Party Verifier (TPV)/Third-Party Auditor for organizations working to meet the terms of a consent decree (CD), compliance order, voluntary disclosure agreement, or supplemental environmental projects (SEP).

Senior Epidemiologist and Infection Prevention Expert Sarah Connolly Joins the Aarcher Team

Sarah Connolly, PhD, MPHAarcher is pleased to announce that Sarah Connolly, PhD, MPH, has joined our team as Science Director, Infection Prevention. Dr. Connolly is a senior epidemiologist and infection prevention expert experienced in infectious disease research and infection prevention. As a former public health associate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Connolly responded to infectious disease outbreaks and provided infection control guidance in a variety of settings. She regularly conducted contact-tracing and risk-assessment counseling to prevent the spread of diseases. She also has experience comparing local surveillance systems for influenza virus and writing state investigation protocols for infectious diseases.

Dr. Connolly provides scientific and technical direction to Aarchers team of certified industrial hygienists (CIHs) as they perform Infection Risk Assessments, prepare Return to Work Plans, and develop Pandemic Response and Preparedness Plans for facilities across the United States. She ensures we continually improve our methodologies and reviews all facility assessment results. Learn more about Aarcher’s Infection Risk Mitigation services.

In 2018, Dr. Connolly was a member of the 1st-place-winning team at the International Global Health Case Competition for her teams strategy to control a fictional outbreak of a novel coronavirus at the 2022 World Cup. Their award-winning approach included methods to detect, contain, and prevent novel coronavirus cases and scalable recommendations for various levels of government and the broader community.

In addition to her breadth of public health experience, Dr. Connolly has conducted basic scientific research on the virologic and immunologic characteristics of HIV transmission as well as studied the toxic effects of nanoparticles on human lung cells. Bridging her research to public health, she has worked to develop assays for the rapid detection of measles virus and created diagnostic checklists to reduce the cost of STI testing in Zambia.

Dr. Connolly received her bachelors degree in Microbiology and Cell Science from the University of Florida and completed her Doctor of Philosophy in Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis at Emory University. She also holds a Master of Public Health in Global Epidemiology from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Publications of her research can be found in prominent infectious disease journals, including the Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Virology.

Ninth Circuit Rules FAA’s New Turboprop Procedures Fail to Comply with NEPA

Ninth Circuit Rules FAA’s New Turboprop Procedures Fail to Comply with NEPAThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently approved new procedures for changing the flight path of southbound turboprops to the west in particular wind conditions at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac). This process previously assigned headings to southbound turboprops manually. The new procedures automate the steps to concentrate low-flying planes over Burien, a city in Washington, after takeoff.

On November 27, City of Burien v. FAA, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the FAA did not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) with this new process. The Ninth Circuit held that the FAA acted arbitrarily and capriciously by its application of a categorical exclusion (CATEX) without consideration of all “reasonably foreseeable” future actions at Sea-Tac in its consideration of whether a cumulative impacts extraordinary circumstance existed. Categorical exclusions cannot be used when extraordinary circumstances are present.

The FAA’s Defense

The FAA, as does all federal agencies, identifies types of actions that don’t require preparation of an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS) to comply with NEPA. These are called “categorical exclusions” (CATEXs). These actions must not “individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment.” Prior to applying a CATEX to a proposed action, the FAA needs to develop supporting documentation stating which CATEX is being used and why its use is appropriate, and documenting that there aren’t any applicable extraordinary circumstances.

The FAA believed that environmental review of the Sea-Tac process wasn’t necessary because an FAA CATEX for “modifications to currently approved procedures conducted below 3,000 feet [above ground level] that do not significantly increase noise over noise sensitive areas” was applicable for the proposed procedures.

The agency did examine several actions in the past, present, and foreseeable future within the area included in its cumulative impacts analysis. However, the analysis area didn’t include Sea-Tac. The FAA did not address future actions occurring at Sea-Tac or any cumulative impacts that might result from projects described in Sea-Tac’s Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP), which is “a long-term blueprint for airport development to meet the needs of the traveling public, while reducing environmental and social impacts.”

The Court’s Decision

In its November 27 majority decision, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the FAA didn’t effectively foresee all potential future actions at Sea-Tac in its evaluation of whether the turboprop process may have a significant impact on the human environment, and in doing so, acted “arbitrarily and capriciously.”

The majority opinion expressed that, because the FAA was involved in the funding and creation of the SAMP, and that a SAMP document describing expansion projects was published only weeks after the turboprop process was approved in April 2018, the FAA must have been aware of the significant airport expansion to occur and included it in its cumulative impacts analysis.

In Conclusion

The Ninth Circuit concluded that the FAA must “consider the potential cumulative impact of all relevant reasonably foreseeable future actions — including those which may exist in the SAMP documents — as part of its extraordinary circumstances analysis.” This means the agency is now required to consider the cumulative impact of the turboprop process related to the SAMP, including airfield develop, facility modernization, terminal development, and more. As a result, the approval process for changes in airport operations and development projects could become more complex and time-consuming. The decision may cause the FAA and airport operators to halt airport development until the FAA adequately complies with NEPA, including preparation of an EA or EIS.

Adapted from: CATEX Controversy: The Ninth Circuit Strikes Down FAA Decision to Exempt a Sea-Tac Operational Change from Environmental Review, Roy Goldberg,

EPA Unveils Its PFAS Action Plan: What You Need to Know

EPA Unveils Its PFAS Action Plan: What You Need to KnowThe EPA recently launched its Action Plan for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are a large class of manufactured chemicals that are very effective in several industrial applications, but have also posed risks to human health through drinking water sources around the United States.

The Action Plan mainly uses the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to address the dangers of PFAS. The agency said it considered 120,000 public comments on what the Action Plan should include and how it should be implemented.

“It took groundbreaking efforts to develop this plan,” EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said. “This is the first time we have utilized all of our program offices to deal with an emerging chemical of concern. It is the first time we have put together a multi-media, multi-program national research and risk communication plan to address a challenge like PFAS.”

The EPA said it will also start researching whether at least some of these chemicals should be regulated under other laws, such as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Superfund, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

The Risks of PFAS

PFAS were introduced in the 1940s and have several applications, including providing fabrics with stain and water resistance and giving nonstick properties to cookware. The durability of PFAS that has made it a desirable chemical contributes to its abundance in the environment and human body. Two PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), can cause cancer and reproductive, developmental, kidney, liver and immunological effects (PFOA) and thyroid hormone disruption (PFOS) in laboratory animals.

Although it can occur in multiple ways, including through soil and food consumption, the biggest concern of PFAS is its presence in drinking water. That’s why the primary goal of the Action Plan is to “initiate steps to evaluate the need for maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS.”

Implementing the PFAS Action Plan

The finalization of MCLs for PFOA and PFOS can take from five to 10 years. It could be several years after that before drinking water systems would be mandated to meet the MCL.

Some U.S. manufacturers voluntarily phased out production of PFOA and PFOS starting in 2000.

Other long-term actions under the EPA’s plan, which will take more than two years to implement, include:

  • Taking steps to propose classifying PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances through federal statutory mechanisms, such as the Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), TSCA and EPCRA.
  • Establishing groundwater cleanup recommendations for PFOA and PFOS at contaminated sites.
  • Creating toxicity values or oral reference doses (RfDs) for GenX chemicals (hexafluoropropylene oxide (HFPO) dimer acid and its ammonium salt) and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS).

Short-term actions under the plan include:

  • Establishing analytical methods and tools for understanding and controlling PFAS risk.
  • Developing Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) under TSCA, which require EPA notification before chemicals are utilized in new ways that could result in human health and ecological concerns.
  • Taking enforcement steps to help manage PFAS risk.

Reactions From the Industry

The industry is generally optimistic about the EPA’s new Action Plan. 3M, which introduced PFOS chemicals in the 1940s and took part in the phaseout in 2000, said that it welcomed the plan.

“We support regulation rooted in the best-available science and believe that this plan may help prevent a patchwork of state standards that could increase confusion,” 3M said in a statement.

However, some environmental groups think the Action Plan provides little action and is mainly for show.

“EPA has been promising to address the serious public health threat posed by PFAS chemical exposures for almost twenty years,” Rob Bilott, an attorney who has represented clients with PFAS claims, said in a statement released by the Environmental Working Group. “The last ‘action plan’ was released a decade ago—in 2009. Unfortunately, despite the promising public relations messaging released in connection with EPA’s latest PFAS ‘Action Plan,’ EPA is still not actually taking any concrete action on PFAS.”

Adapted from: EPA floats ‘groundbreaking’ PFAS plan,


Julia NorrisJulia Norris is a California-based Certified Hazardous Material Manager, Certified Professional Environmental Auditor, and senior environmental protection specialist with 19 years of professional experience. She has expertise in a wide range of technical areas, including regulatory compliance auditing, air emissions inventories, SPCC Plans, drinking water sampling plans, SWPPPs, wastewater pretreatment programs, solid waste characterization studies, pollution prevention planning, hazardous material/waste management, storage tank management, and NEPA analysis.

Deadline for Submission of EPCRA Tier II Forms is March 1

Deadline for Submission of EPCRA Tier II Forms is March 1 March 1 is the deadline for submission of EPCRA Tier II forms.

If you have hazardous chemicals at your facility that mandate a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), you may need to submit Tier II forms under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Only chemicals that are in excess of established thresholds need to be reported.

The reporting thresholds are:

  • Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHSs): 500 pounds or the threshold planning quantity (TPQ), whichever is lower. (EHSs and their TPQs are listed in 40 CFR part 355, Appendix A and Appendix B).
  • All other hazardous chemicals required to have an SDS: 10,000 pounds

Here is the TPQ for some common chemicals found at Bureau of Land Management facilities:

  • 80 lead-acid backup batteries (sulfuric acid is an EHS)
  • 3,000 gallons of propane
  • 1,562 gallons of heating oil
  • 820 gallons of retardant
  • 2,000 gallons of gasoline

If your facility has hazardous chemicals present at any one time during the year in quantities equal to or greater than threshold levels, you need to submit Tier II forms March 1 each year regarding information on hazardous chemicals present the previous year.

Generally, send the completed Tier II form to each of the following organizations: State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and the fire department with jurisdiction over your facility.

Some states may have specific requirements for reporting and submission of the Tier II inventory form and/or the state reporting form or format.

Chemicals that must be reported include:

  • Battery Acid
  • Diesel Fuel
  • Fuel Oil
  • Gasoline
  • Kerosene
  • Natural Gas
  • Nitrogen
  • Oxygen
  • Road Salt
  • Sawdust
  • Transformer Oils
  • Windshield Washer Fluid


Bob LaRosa, PE, is a professional environmental engineer with more than 30 years of experience. He has assisted Federal and private clients with a variety of environmental support projects, including multimedia compliance auditing, EH&S training and curriculum development, SPCC plan development, hazardous materials and hazardous waste management plan development, water system management plan development and implementation, and ESAs.

4 Goals Pursued by the New Federal Lead Action Plan

Environmental Protection AgencyOn Dec. 19, the Trump administration unveiled its new Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts.

“The Federal Lead Action Plan will enhance the Trump Administration’s efforts to identify and reduce lead contamination while ensuring children impacted by lead exposure are getting the support and care they need,” EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said.

Many of the 17 federal agencies that comprise the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children will pursue the Action Plan’s four goals:

Goal 1: Reduce Children’s Exposure to Lead Sources

Goal 2: Identify Lead-Exposed Children and Improve Their Health Outcomes

Goal 3: Communicate More Effectively with Stakeholders

Goal 4: Support and Conduct Critical Research to Inform Efforts to Reduce Lead Exposures and Related Health Risks

The majority of the EPA’s actions are listed under Goal 1 and align with current agency rules on children’s exposure to lead-based paint hazards in homes and child-occupied facilities.

The EPA said that it is “committed to developing an implementation plan—by March 2019—that includes performance metrics for monitoring progress and demonstrating accountability for EPA actions identified in the Lead Action Plan.”

What You Need to Know

In the Action Plan, the EPA states that it will “consider revisions, as appropriate, to the dust-lead hazard standards to address childhood exposures to lead-contaminated dust generated from lead-based paint.”

In reference to lead in the ambient air, the EPA explains it will “continue to work with state and tribal air agencies to implement the lead NAAQS and will also evaluate the impacts of lead emissions from aircraft using leaded aviation fuel under the Clean Air Act.”

The plan also asserts that all actions within it are subject to budget constraints, processes within agencies and input from stakeholders.

Skepticism Among Environmental Groups

Many environmental groups are doubtful of the Action Plan’s effectiveness.

“The Federal Action Plan falls short of the decisive action needed to ‘Get The Lead Out’ of our children’s lives,” Environment America said. “While the Plan affirms well-established goals—like reducing exposure to lead—it offers no new policy tools or resource commitments to reach those goals, and ensure lead-free drinking water for our children.”

What is a Class V Underground Injection Well?

If you think your facility doesn’t have a Class V underground injection well, you might want to check again. Recent enforcement action by EPA Region 9 has resulted in violations against facilities that failed to identify, register, and maintain their dry wells.  If you don’t know what an underground injection well is, read on.

What is a Class V underground injection well?

An injection well is a shaft, hole, or other system that sends fluids from the surface underground. Subsurface fluid disposal poses a risk to underground sources of drinking water and is therefore regulated by EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act. There are six types of injection wells (Class I through Class VI), used for a range of purposes (from oil production to mining to waste disposal). Most of these uses sound industrial, which leads some property owners to disregard the regulations altogether. However, let’s look a bit deeper into what constitutes a Class V underground injection well.

A Class V well is used to inject non-hazardous fluids underground. Fluids are injected either into or above an underground source of drinking water. There are dozens of types of Class V injection wells. An EPA study conducted in 1999 estimated that more than 686,000 Class V wells within 23 different categories were in operation throughout the U.S. Most Class V wells are “low-tech” and depend on gravity to drain fluids directly below the land surface. Some very common property features are actually regulated as Class V injection wells, and many are not even that deep:

  • Septic systems that receive non-domestic wastewater
  • Septic systems serving multiple residences or business establishments
  • Cesspools
  • Dry wells used to control flooding of residential basements
  • Floor drains connected to a septic tank, dry well, or soil
  • Stormwater drainage wells
  • French drains and tile drains
  • Recreational campground pit toilets and latrines
  • Cooling water return flow wells used to inject water previously used for cooling
  • Salt water intrusion barrier wells
  • Motor vehicle waste disposal wells that receive or have received fluids from any facility that does any vehicular repair work

Endangerment by Class V wells occurs when they are used in a manner that transmits contaminants into or above underground sources of drinking water. If the fluids you place in the ground qualify as a hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), your well is either a Class I or Class IV well, not a Class V well.

If you own a commercial or industrial property, you may want to take another look at your facility features and make sure you know whether you have a Class V injection well. If you have any wastewater or other fluids that eventually discharge underground through a pipe, septic system, catch basin, or dry well, you probably have a Class V injection well.

What to do if you have one?

There are some steps you can take to determine whether you have an injection well on your property:

  1. Identify all floor drains, septic systems, stormwater drainage devices and any other points where fluids are possibly being introduced below-grade.
  2. For each item identified in Step 1, determine the ultimate point of discharge.
  3. If no absolute determination can be made as to where a pipe ends, or if you determine that it ends with disposal to soil, you have a shallow injection well.

Owners or operators of Class V injection wells are required to 1) not endanger underground sources of drinking water and 2) register the injection wells with the UIC program at no cost. There is an online form [] for registering your well with EPA.

Is a permit required?

In most cases, an individual permit is not required. A Class V injection well is authorized or permitted by rule if the basic inventory information is submitted. The regulations allow use of an injection well to resume 90 days after submission of inventory information unless EPA (or authorized state) notifies the owner/operator that the use of the injection well may not resume. EPA may also request additional information. Even if a permit is not required, submitting the inventory information is mandatory.


Bonnie Wisniewski is an environmental management consultant with more than 20 years of experience helping clients work toward their environmental compliance, performance, and risk management objectives. She is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA), and AARCHER division manager in Denver. Bonnie can be reached at [email protected].