5 Environmental Risks to Consider Before Starting Your Next Project

By Environmental Risk Professionals

April 15, 2023

Risks associated with environmental pollution are often overlooked and only considered after they occur. But the reality is that any project can cause a pollution event. Project owners bear ultimate responsibility for any contamination and should consider these five perils before starting a project:

Disturbing Existing Pollutants

Pre-existing pollution conditions may be present on a site. Pollutants employees may encounter include asbestos, mold, lead-based paint, or contamination from abandoned underground storage tanks. Disturbing these conditions can occur during building renovation projects. Accidental disturbance of pollutants may spread contamination, affecting project execution and causing delays.

Pollutants Introduced by Contractors

Any project runs the risk of having contaminants brought onto a property by hired subcontractors. Creating a clear, detailed contract to keep the site safe for all stakeholders is essential and helps protect parties from lawsuits. It is important to vet subcontractors to avoid hiring the wrong one and paying for their potential default or mistakes.

Illicit Abandonment

Illicit abandonment is the illegal (unpermitted) dumping of waste instead of using proper recycling or safe and legal disposal methods. If a work site is not properly secured, unknown parties may illegally dump waste on the site and create issues with jobsite cleanup, where the burden of removing and disposing of the waste may fall on the project owner.

Damage to Underground Utilities

Ensuring utility lines are marked and surveyed is vital to subsurface construction activity. Damage to underground utilities, such as striking an unmarked subsurface utility line, is a serious potential hazard that can cause utility service interruption for the community and be dangerous to people in the surrounding area, especially construction employees on site.

Waste Management, Disposal, and Transportation

Improper storage or handling of waste can lead to contamination and other complications. Contractors may be handling the disposal of waste, but project owners are ultimately responsible for the waste and any related environmental tort liability from the time it is generated through the transportation, storage, and final disposal.

Each project has its own unique risks, therefore a deeper understanding of environmental exposures and liabilities may help protect your business. AIA Contract Documents partnered with Environmental Risk Professionals and their Certified Environmental Responsible Contractor (CERC) program to provide environmental risk overviews by trade and best practices for managing environmental risks. Visit http://c-e-r-c.com/acd/ to learn more and receive special savings as an ACD customer.

AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.