Can You Retest Methane Test of Soil?
Is it worthwhile to get a retest methane test of soil: Generally Not. Sometimes a methane test will show high results of the hazardous soil-gas on a property. And developers will try a retest methane test to get “favorable results.” Regardless, there is a general legal requirement to still submit the original test data (whether it has higher or lower methane levels). This is a public health code concern governed by law, and delves into the matter of developer ethics. The rule is to submit the original report with the retest methane test report for the agency to review. And even when multiple reports indicate conflicting data; more than likely the agency will use the highest overall results. Thus, retesting in hopes of “favorable results” can be pointless and a waste of money. Updated April 8, 2020.
The City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (also known as the LADBS agency) has distinguished methane zones and methane buffer zones. Additionally, the Los Angeles Fire Department (also known as the LAFD agency) has oversight. As a result, methane mitigation standards apply. And therefore, a methane test becomes necessary. Other cities and counties also administer the same methane test policies. Cities like Huntington Beach have their own standards, while others may reference the LADBS policies and guidelines directly.
Interest to Retest a Methane Test
Building Safety Codes base the standard on the highest overall test results. Consequently, the LADBS and LAFD typically select a Level per the highest overall result. For Example, consider a scenario with two methane test reports by different companies. The first methane test reports Level 5, and the retest methane test reports Level 4. In this case, the agency is likely to use the highest methane test, which is Level 5.
Methane Barrier Requirements
Often times, developers believe a retest methane test may help them get out of having to construct a methane barrier. This is mostly incorrect. In most cases, it doesn’t even matter whether results are Level 1 or 5. For example, a structure with a subterranean level in a Level 1 methane zone will likely still require a methane barrier.
The Legal Requirement to Report all Methane Test Data
High levels of methane soil gas become a matter of public health concern. Anyone that has discovered high levels of methane test results, is required to obey the California Health and Safety Code and report results to LADBS and LAFD. In other jurisdictions, all potential public health hazards should also be reported to the appropriate agency for proper evaluation.
Thus, the policy entails the appropriate agency receives a copy of each methane test report, including the original and retest methane test.
What will the Agencies Decide?
Only the appropriate oversight-agency has the authority to decide what methane level a property is. One cannot guarantee whether the agency decides to accept the original report or retest methane test. For instance, in the scenario above, the decision in the matter is entirely up to the City of Los Angeles.
Methane Test Results for Properties with Oil Wells
Developers must acknowledge that properties including (or within proximity to) oil wells typically result in high-level methane mitigation systems. Thus, it is common that a Level 5 mitigation system has an appropriate level of building safety components. Accordingly, the higher results between a methane test and a retest methane test are likely to prevail. Building an appropriate level mitigation system is not just about construction costs. It’s about the health safety of those who will use the building.
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