Federal Facility Cleanup. Reggie Cheatham, Director Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office

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1 Federal Facility Cleanup Reggie Cheatham, Director Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office NAS Best Practices Workshop January 9, 2014

2 Overview of Presentation Facts about Federal Facility Cleanup Practitioner View of CERCLA Role of Risk in the CERCLA process Federal Facilities and CERCLA FERDC as a Roadmap Sustainability in Superfund Remediation Groundwater Cleanup Conclusions

3 Federal Facility Cleanup Myth Fact CERCLA process is not flexible Cleanup goals are based on risks that are either unmanageable or cannot be achieved Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) milestones are not negotiable Groundwater cleanup can not be achieved CERCLA provides flexibility on revising cleanup levels based on a risk range of protectiveness, site-specific conditions, new science and technologies that can save time and money NCP is clear that the goal is to manage risk using risk assessment of current and potential risks FFA milestones are negotiable and have been modified at many sites over many years 90% of Superfund sites have selected groundwater remedy. RAOs have been achieved or concentration of contaminants reduced

4 Practitioner View of CERCLA 1. Identification and prioritization of hazardous waste sites in the United States. 2. Basic construct is that the polluter pays. 3. Repeated language in the statute focuses on the protection of human health and the environment. 4. Implementation of CERCLA through the NCP and EPA guidance are risk based decisions at the site level. 5. Requirements expect for full participation of the potential responsible parties, regulators and stakeholders.

5 Role of risk in the CERCLA process 1. Goal is to manage the risk to acceptable levels 2. Remediation goals shall establish acceptable exposure levels that are protective of human health and the environment (40 CFR National Contingency Plan) 3. Risk assessment estimates the current and possible future risks if no action is taken to cleanup the site 4. Risk managers incorporate risk assessment information with a variety of site factors to restore a site to beneficial use. 5. Risk management decisions are made and evaluated every five years.

6 Federal Facilities and CERCLA The CERCLA process evaluates and manages risks: Site Identification Docket Assessment HRS Scoring Risk based Decisions Five Year Reviews

7 FFERDC as a Roadmap Federal Facilities Environmental Restoration Dialogue Committee (FFERDC) April 1996 Established principles for conducting environmental cleanup at Federal Facility sites The prioritization process should be transparent; give regulators and stakeholders an opportunity for dialogue Risk plus approach to recognize factors such as environmental justice, potential future use of the site, reducing infrastructure cost, and the availability of new technologies

8 Sustainability in Superfund Remediation Social: Engaging communities in site cleanup decisions Turning contaminated sites into community assets Economic: Redevelopment in blighted areas (aligns with smart growth goals) Fostering employment opportunities in communities where sites are cleaned up Rising property values in communities Remediation in the U.S.: A $7billion/year economic engine Environmental: Protecting Human Health and the Environment Liberating contaminated sites for reuse (1 remediated acre redeveloped = 4 acres of green field development) Challenge: A smaller environmental footprint cleaning up sites

9 Ground Water Cleanup According to the National Ground Water Association approximately 44% of US residents depend on GW as a source for drinking water and over 13 million households have a private wells Protection of water, including ground water, is one of Administrator McCarthy s 7 Priorities Agency s history includes 1984 Ground Water Protection Strategy, 1989 NCP and 1991 Ground Water Report 1991 Agency Ground Water Report Summary: The overall goal of EPA s Ground Water Policy is to prevent adverse effects to human health and the environment and to protect the environmental integrity of the nation s ground water resources; in determining appropriate prevention and protection strategies, EPA will also consider the use, value, and vulnerability of the resource, as well as social and economic values.

10 Ground Water Cleanup Ground water remediation activities must be prioritized to limit the risk of adverse effects to human health first and then to restore currently used and reasonably expected sources of drinking water and ground water closely hydrologically connected to surface waters, whenever such restorations are practicable and attainable. Given the costs and technical limitations associated with ground water cleanup, a framework should be established that ensures the environmental and public health benefit of each dollar spent is maximized. Thus, in making remediation decisions, EPA must take a realistic approach to restoration based upon actual and reasonably expected uses of the resource as well as social and economic values.

11 Ground Water Cleanup WITH RESPECT TO FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL RESPONSIBILITIES The primary responsibility for coordinating and implementing ground water protection programs has always been and should continue to be vested with the States. An effective ground water protection program should link Federal, State, and local activities into a coherent and coordinated plan of action.

12 In Conclusion No quick fixes proposed can provide reliable protection to human health and the environment. EPA encourages revising cleanup decisions when good science or emerging technologies will save time and money, while also achieving an equivalent protection of human health and the environment. Without the assurance of equivalent protection, cheaper cleanups implemented only on cost saving wind up being more expensive to future generations. Shortening cleanups by writing-off America s ground water resources is an unacceptable solution for the Superfund program.

13 Comments? Feedback? Questions? Reggie Cheatham, Director Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response

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