Merced Distribution Centre

Client Name
Sheppard Mullin
Merced, California, USA
  • Environmental management, permitting & compliance
  • Hazardous materials management
  • Hydrogeology
  • Land quality & remediation
  • Risk assessment & toxicology
  • Transaction due diligence


SLR was retained by the law firm, Sheppard Mullin, to perform Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) for 40 properties in California and Nevada, USA, as part of a sale leaseback deal. The portfolio of properties included shopping centres, grocery stores and grocery distribution centres.


SLR had previously performed due diligence work for Sheppard Mullin. This project involved the Merced Distribution Centre, which had historically been used for carpet mill operations in the early 1970s - 1980s. By 1986, the site had been acquired and was operated as a grocery distribution centre.

SLR’s team of 20+ US staff completed all site visits and Phase I ESA reports in five weeks. The Phase I ESA revealed evidence of a recognised environmental condition (REC) relating to two inactive retention basins suspected to have been associated with dyeing / treatment operations at the former carpet mill. Based on the operating period of the former mill, there was the potential that the carpet manufacturing process had included treatment with PFAS to provide stain resistant coatings. SLR prepared a rough order of magnitude (ROM) estimate for potential remediation costs at the request of the client. Based on the ROM remediation cost estimate, the client agreed to proceed with SLR’s recommended additional ESA activities to evaluate for potential contamination present at the site.

Image highlighting monitoring well and boring locations of the site.
Monitoring well and boring locations of the site.


SLR’s sampling strategy focused on the inactive retention basins where process water may have been stored or discharged. Soil, groundwater and onsite drinking water well samples were collected and analysed. PFAS was detected at low levels in shallow soil samples and detected at high levels in shallow groundwater samples below inactive retention basins and near drain lines. The sampling also showed there was a lack of PFAS detected in drinking water wells screened in a deeper aquifer, indicating that PFAS did not appear to have migrated vertically downward.

Ultimately, SLR’s additional ESA activities and refinement of the ROM remediation cost estimate were used by the client to determine whether to pursue the final property transaction.

"We finished on time, with great work product. We worked together from the very beginning to accomplish a massive job in about 30 days, which was fantastic" - Sheppard Mullin.

Well and boring operations being carried out onsite.