Category: LandWatch

Situational Awareness: Connecting Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Performance to Long-Term Stewardship

On a recent sales call to a prospective client, the client was focused on one of the use-case slides in our presentation. “Your Terradex platform would bring situational awareness to our business.” As an environmental director for the corporation, he felt a strong responsibility to be aware of any community activity in the vicinity of their sites. He loved the slide.

Our prospect spoke further, explaining why situational awareness is important to their company. “We need to engage early in the land development process to ensure we understand community sentiment and remain an engaged, active, and responsive participant. When we actively participate, we are better situated to meet our Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) goals, satisfy our ISO 14001 requirements, and address emerging environmental justice obligations. At the same time, we continue to meet our traditional needs, such as sharing our interests in the project planning process, or maintaining compliance and preserving institutional controls.“

What is Situational Awareness? Situational awareness is a new term in Terradex’s stewardship lexicon. Situational awareness is being aware of your surroundings. Organizations that practice situational awareness are fully engaged in identifying and anticipating actions and activities that could impact their organization. Situational awareness also helps companies measure and achieve important ESG goals. If a company fails to proactively ensure the safety of its facilities, land portfolios, and adjacent communities, it jeopardizes not only its compliance status, but it also gives rise to “reputational risk,” as the entity may be viewed as an irresponsible corporate actor at a time where ESG performance is being scrutinized by consumers, shareholders, and investors alike. This risk is real, and has a host of negative consequences for companies that do not integrate ESG performance into their day-to-day business operations and risk management strategies.

My partner Peter Biffar recounted the traditional view of situational awareness in Germany serving BASF. Growing up in Germany, Peter recalled the old days when the plant boss lived in the community, and knew the mayor (Bürgermeister). The “boss” tracked and participated in all current and future developments that might impact the plant. This direct communication served as old-fashioned traditional “situational awareness.”

The Need for Communication, Proactive Participation: The modern-day workforce is generally decentralized, and the view of the “plant boss” is nostalgic. This is a realm that BASF and other distributed corporations find themselves in. Still, the value of anticipating change and proactively participating has never been more important and has grown even more strategic through the need to satisfy ESG obligations for the reasons described above. Corporate obligations now go beyond compliance.

While Terradex’s service to BASF was not framed by situational awareness, it provided the basis for the slide of the prospect’s focus. Terradex provides LandWatch monitoring services to BASF around the perimeter of their facilities and pipeline in Germany. If BASF does not detect prospective changes, it may affect current and future operations, and damage its reputation, and impact the company’s bottom line.

How Do We Apply LandWatch? The client’s goal is to detect and track land development activities in close proximity and at the facility itself to be aware of any potential onsite risks or negative impacts to surrounding communities. Land development occurs across a life cycle sequenced by distinct land activities: selling a property, leading to a purchase confirmation, which might then trigger search for an architect, which might trigger a planning review, ultimately a building permit and finally construction activities. If the development could pose an adverse impact either on the community or the facility, the corporation would choose to communicate (aka, the boss talking to the Bürgermeister). Absent that arrangement, LandWatch can be utilized to facilitate critical communication of potential risks. A client’s discretion enables directing risk communication to either the governing agency or to the individual project proponent.

The Terradex LandWatch process monitors for all of these activities, and groups any activities that might impact facilities into projects. A monthly project report is sent to the client providing a status update on their portfolio of facilities and associated nearby projects. Typically, the client, informed of the goings on, then takes any necessary action from there. Our prospective client observed the business process presented on the slide, and envisioned how the process encompassed broader situational awareness.

Beyond Traditional Risk Management – ESG and EJ: Our prospective client holds a comprehensive view of situational awareness, expanding beyond land development to monitor and protect any new occupancies or activities, while tracking community sentiment for concern around the facility. Broadly, the prospect envisioned LandWatch as an ESG intelligence platform that could be used to implement smart and effective community engagement. Initiating this engagement could also logically extend to satisfying ISO 14001 requirements as well as addressing emerging environmental justice considerations and concerns.

LandWatch for ESG. This initial blog post on situational awareness plants some seeds for future discussion. How can ESG communication be optimized? Where is the intersection between environmental justice and monitoring of proximate land uses? At Terradex we sense the opportunity to extend the LandWatch model to not only corporations that have hazardous materials triggering community engagement, but to any portfolio-based corporation looking to measure and bolster their ESG performance. Terradex has the opportunity to efficiently bring situational awareness to the corporation, allowing them to effectively participate in the community perhaps as deftly as the company boss of days gone by.

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Bob Wenzlau December 3, 2021 0 Comments

Terradex at 20: Keeping the Startup Feeling in Pursuit of Long-Term Stewardship

Can Terradex still be a startup after 20 years? That is the question I ask myself as I reflect on this milestone. A startup is a fast, bumpy, innovative ride to converge on the model, market, revenue, and profit, and is very much the norm in Silicon Valley. Although Terradex is in the business of the perpetual, it remains adorned by the spirit of the startup. So, my answer is yes, and here are three reasons why I keep this startup feeling.

First, the force of Terradex’s mission has never dissipated. The force of the mission is engrained in the startup. Terradex has targeted an essential need: enabling land stewardship through web technologies to protect the public and the environment. I am an altruist and seek to protect the public, community member, or worker, who might unknowingly come in contact with contaminated residuals. While protecting the public, we also serve our customers by protecting their cleanup remedies. The Terradex mission is a “win-win” for everyone.

Second, I get to work in the playground of innovation. In Silicon Valley many amazing tools are being assembled for monitoring land use and activity. Today’s technology, previously unimaginable, now includes satellite constellations, drone capture images, and artificial intelligence, all of which are routinely applied to detect land and structure changes. This tech revolution has enabled the development and deployment of our product offerings. Terradex adapts these new technologies for land stewardship. Satellites can remote sense and apply artificial intelligence. I can then utilize satellites to show a customer new structures on their remote land or a disturbance that might damage an ecosystem or a protective liner acting as a barrier to contain residual contamination. At Terradex, I get to adapt the technology and integrate it into our solutions like LandWatch.

Third, I get to pursue emerging markets to protect vulnerable land. Startups often surprise by creating and then fulfilling a market that is not apparent or by replacing an old paradigm with the new. Our current market is defined by specific areas of interest: land that is contaminated and vulnerable to public use and land that is sensitive, such as a habitat area, and vulnerable to development. In the coming years, land such as forests used for carbon sequestration will be similarly vulnerable to uncontrolled land uses. We further anticipate that efforts tied to climate mitigation and sustainable development will result in a new generation of lands that must be protected. As an experienced startup, we are poised to pursue these new markets as they emerge.

Even as a startup, in our first 20 years Terradex has made an impact. There are two main areas of our impact: 1) building the playbook of land stewardship that has become the industry standard and 2) the resulting impact as our stewardship technologies successfully protect public health and cleanup remedies.

When Terradex started, the industry’s focus was on conducting cleanups and not post-cleanup obligations. We discovered that because most remedies fall short of a complete cleanup, they create an obligation for long-term stewardship. At Terradex, we saw the need to fashion industry and governmental practice to fulfill this obligation. Over the last 20 years, we have been part of establishing a modern long-term stewardship framework, which included:

  • supporting EPA in its development of guidance for advanced methods for long-term stewardship,
  • leading ASTM standard development for Continuing Obligations that serve as long-term stewardship best practices,
  • developing data standards for long-term stewardship with ECOS, and
  • training over 6,000 practitioners via ITRC’s stewardship training, while
  • establishing Terradex’s data methodology now protected in a U.S. patent.

I treasure the impact Terradex’s team of 12 has made on our clients and the tens of thousands we protect. It amazes me that we send nearly 10,000 alerts a month to people moving into a new home, working to repair a sewer line, or installing a new water well. These simple, actionable messages keep people safe and protect our customers’ cleanup remedies from damage. I look back at many of our notable accomplishments with pride. We have successfully:

  • prevented a well from penetrating an aquitard, thereby protecting drinking water supply,
  • alerted a developer about encountering an area of buried ordinance,
  • protected homeowners by preventing an inadvertent vapor intrusion pathway installed by a utility contractor, and
  • supported compliance by alerting our client to a tenant’s activities in breach of an engineered control.

In the past 20 years, Terradex has set a path now encompassed by our three product solutions, LandWatch, DigClean, and WhatsDown. We introduce these solutions on the new Terradex web site emulating the protectiveness we seek to provide in vulnerable settings.

Thank You! We didn’t achieve Terradex’s impact alone. Building Terradex’s stewardship solutions has taken a village, including the Terradex team, our customer partners, and our colleagues in professional organizations. At 20 years young,Terradex has been an impactful and innovative startup and we proudly celebrate that accomplishment with you.

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Bob Wenzlau October 5, 2021 0 Comments

Mochi and Terradex’s Long Term Stewardship Mission

The excavation limits of a new water main are marked on the street. Consistent with state regulation, the excavator calls in the excavation limits to the One-Call System. Soon the street is marked with utility locations. Surprisingly, the excavator receives a fax describing that the excavation site as occurring in a zone of environmental contamination. The responsible party who faxed the notice of contamination is pleased to have averted a hazardous substance release and to have protected the excavators and the public from harm. The excavator, however, is not pleased; their fixed bid did not anticipate the cost of handling contamination and work delays.

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Bob Wenzlau January 29, 2021 0 Comments

NAESIP and Terradex Introduce Brownfield Loss Control Services

In October 2005, Bob Wenzlau of Terradex was appointed Task Group Chair to build a practice standard for Landowner Continuing Obligations. When complete, the practice standards will systematically improve the long-term public and environmental safety at brownfields while limiting financial liabilities brownfield redevelopers. The Task Group includes participation from USEPA, state government, brownfield redevelopers, environmental professionals and legal counsel.

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Bob Wenzlau April 13, 2016 0 Comments

Long Term Stewardship at Vapor Intrusion Sites – Looking at the End Game

Long term stewardship (LTS)  is the “end game” of any vapor intrusion problem. Any smart player, considers the “end game” at the start and during play. Knowing the “end game” sets a smart direction for any stakeholder of a vapor intrusion – a responsible party, landowner, environmental agency staff, and the public.

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Bob Wenzlau March 18, 2014 0 Comments

Forecasting an Engineering Control or Institutional Control Breach, A Study of Third-party Excavation Activity

Excavations by third-parties are inevitable near any cleanup site. Of concern to cleanup site managers, these unexpected events can breach institutional or engineering controls relied upon in a site’s cleanup remedy. Third-party excavators include utility companies, developers and contractors whose work is not part of the site cleanup process.

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Bob Wenzlau September 25, 2013 0 Comments

Terradex Gains GSA Contract Vehicle to Serve Federal Clients

Terradex, a unique and pioneering provider of information-based long-term stewardship (LTS) services, is pleased to announce its award of U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule 899 Contract for Environmental Services (Contract number GA-10F-009AA).

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Bob Wenzlau December 19, 2012 0 Comments

Off-site Groundwater Plumes – Terradex LandWatch Is A Risk Manager’s Best Friend

Groundwater contamination plumes often migrate off-site beyond the site where the chemicals were released.   The fate of the off-site plume poses a vexing risk management challenge for the regulator, potential responsible parties and even affected local governments. Terradex’s LandWatch is an efficient and effective adjunct to the risk management plan for an off-site plume.

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Bob Wenzlau May 3, 2012 0 Comments

USEPA Issues Policy Guidance on Evaluation of Institutional Controls

The USEPA released on September 13, 2011 new guidance titled “Recommended Evaluation of Institutional Controls: Supplement to the Comprehensive Five Year Review Guidance”  providing recommendations for the monitoring and inspection of ICs during the CERCLA five-year review process.  The new USEPA guidance recommends that “ICs be mentioned specifically in the overall protectiveness statement when long-term protectiveness hinges on compliance with ICs.”

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Bob Wenzlau September 23, 2011 0 Comments

Terradex Keeps Contaminated Soil Safely Managed

No activities that will disturb the soil at or below the pavement in the restricted Areas (e.g., excavation, grading, removal, trenching, filling, earth movement, or mining) shall be allowed on the Property without a Soil Management Plan and a Health and Safety Plan.

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Mike Sowinski September 15, 2011 0 Comments
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