One of the easiest ways to understand the range of environmental services that American Capital and Research Corp. offers is to look at a project that one of the company's subsidiaries has underway.

The client is a major international chemical company that hired ICF Kaiser Engineers to help plan for a new chemical plant.

ICF's agreement with the chemical company requires ICF to keep its client's name confidential, ICF said.

The first step was to technically evaluate competing plants operating in the United States, including assessing how they manage their waste streams and discharges.

Then, said Stephen W. Bailey, vice president of ICF Kaiser Engineers, the company began a siting study, examining potential sites all over North America. In assessing those sites they examined issues including how the plant would be powered; where the raw material would come from and at what expense; what local labor would cost; and whether there was a stream that could handle treated waste from the plant.

Once that exercise narrowed the choice down to a handful of sites, the company began detailed environmental and geological examinations of those prospective sites, said Bailey.

This phase covered issues including the soil structure, whether there was previous contamination on the site, and whether there were physical constraints that would impede construction.

Once the site was selected, ICF Kaiser began working with its client and regulatory authorities to obtain the environmental permits needed before construction begins.

"It's a complex process that involves working hand-in-hand with the regulatory authorities," Bailey said, "telling them what our operations will be and having them tell us what kind of treatment they would have us design into the plant." At the same time, he said, the company is working on community outreach to ensure that the plant is accepted.

That's as far as the contract has gone for now, but ICF Kaiser also hopes to be hired to design the facility and to help with procurement of the equipment and management of the construction.