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Site Remediation Program Frequently Asked Questions

This document is for general information only and is not intended to replace, interpret, or modify laws, rules, and regulations.

1. What are the fundamental steps to success in the Site Remediation Program ("SRP")?

  • Establish a realistic, achievable goal.
  • Enroll early into the SRP to reduce unnecessary work, expense, and project delays.

Typically, the goal for participating in the SRP is the No Further Remediation Letter (NFR). The Remediation Applicant (RA) is required to identify the following elements in obtaining the NFR Letter:

  • Post-remediation land use
  • Scope of the investigation and subsequent remedial actions (focused vs. comprehensive)
  • Reliance on engineered barriers
  • Use of institutional controls

The NFR Letter is used to assist in a property transfer by informing an individual buying or selling property of the environmental site conditions.

Early enrollment ensures that all parties can be actively involved in the decisions necessary for successful participation and receipt of the NFR Letter. Early discussions concerning where and what to sample can avoid unnecessary expenses and project delays. Additionally, the various options available to the RA concerning the use of institutional controls and reliance on engineered barriers can be fully evaluated.

The SRP allows RAs to tailor the scope of the investigation and subsequent remedial action to meet their objectives in a timely and cost-effective manner. For example, an RA may elect to :

  • Perform corrective action for a specific chemical release (e.g., a perchlorethylene leak from above ground tank) or a unique spill (e.g., a spill from an overturned truck)
  • Clean up a portion of a property (e.g., remedial activities on 1 acre of a 10-acre property)
  • Perform a comprehensive site investigation (i.e., address all recognized environmental concerns) or focus the site investigation on a specific chemical or set of chemicals (e.g., BTEX)
  • Conduct a specific remedial action (e.g., drum removal)
  • Clean up for a specific land use (e.g., industrial or commercial)

The project runs more smoothly when the Illinois EPA, RA, and the RA's environmental consultant identify and agree upon from the start what review and evaluation services the Illinois EPA can provide, the scope of the investigation and what corrective action must be taken, and how those activities are to be documented and reported.

2. What environmental conditions are the most difficult to address and qualify for an NFR Letter?

  • It is difficult to obtain an NFR Letter for a landfill. Leaving a significant amount of waste in place is rarely a remediation option when establishing cleanup objectives under the SRP using 35 Ill. Adm. Code 742: Tiered Approach to Corrective Action Objectives or TACO.
  • An NFR Letter cannot be issued wherever contaminants in groundwater pose a threat to human health (e.g., contaminants in the groundwater exceed the cleanup objectives off-site) and no local ordinance or other institutional control exists to prohibit potable water supply wells.

3. Can the SRP provide relief from enforcement actions?

The SRP is not an enforcement shield or an alternative to regulatory compliance. The Illinois EPA or USEPA can pursue enforcement against any SRP site. The SRP does provide an opportunity for site owners subject to enforcement action to voluntarily and expeditiously remediate the site. If a site fails to proceed in a timely and appropriate manner, the Illinois EPA can proceed with enforcement. Sites under enforcement are allowed to enroll into the SRP on a case-by-case basis.

4. What is the difference between the assurances available under the SRP (i.e., "comprehensive" or "focused" NFR Letter)?

The type of NFR Letter issued by the Illinois EPA depends on the scope of the investigation and subsequent actions:

A " comprehensive" NFR Letter affirms that the site does not constitute a significant risk of harm to human health and the environment, so long as the site is used in accordance with the terms and conditions of the NFR Letter.

To qualify for a "comprehensive" NFR Letter, the RA will be required to:

  • Identify all recognized environmental conditions that may exist at a site. Usually, sampling analyses include volatiles, semi-volatiles, and metals. Occasionally, and as determined on a case-by-case basis, sampling may be required for agrochemicals, pesticides, PCBs, and dioxin.
  • Implement a remedial action that demonstrates that all environmental conditions at the site do not present a significant risk to human health and the environment.

A " focused" NFR Letter is for those RAs that want to limit their remedial actions on specific chemical or set of chemicals (e.g., BTEX) at a site.

The focused NFR Letter may appeal to those RA's trying to satisfy either a contractual relationship or a specific release of hazardous substances.

5. What are the steps to clean up a site under the SRP?

Upon enrollment, the SRP generally requires that a RA perform the following:

  • Conduct a Site Investigation
  • Develop Cleanup Objectives
  • Plan the Cleanup (i.e., remedial action)
  • Perform and Document the Cleanup

6. What can I do to help in expediting the review and approval of the reports and plans?

  • Include all the required elements described in the SRP regulations. Use chapter headings identical to those outlined in the SRP rules to organize the report or plan. Address each element of what is required for the reports.
  • Attach the completed SRP Form DRM-2 as part of the cover letter when submitting a report or plan. Illinois EPA relies on the DRM-2 to route reports quickly to Illinois EPA project managers.
  • Evaluate all exposure pathways and develop remediation objectives that meet TACO. For Tier 2, identify equations and methods used to determine site-specific remediation objectives. Present all input parameters and calculated values. Flag any institutional controls or engineered barriers being relied upon. If a Tier 3 evaluation is conducted, provide sufficient documentation to support your request.
  • Maintain consistency between all information presented in the main body of the report and appendices. For example, if the site investigation report identifies eight monitoring wells, then eight well logs and their corresponding analytical data should be included. Analytical methods and results identified in the main body of the report should correspond to the laboratory analytical summary sheets.
  • Ensure laboratory analytical summary sheets are signed by the laboratory manager or analyst.
  • Include sufficient detail in figures and tables presented. For example, the site map should show the land use surrounding the site as well as adjacent utilities. All analytical data (including "Non-Detects") should be presented clearly and logically.
  • If relying on previous studies, analyze and summarize the activities and findings in the main body of the text and explain how these findings support the current site investigation.
  • Review draft NFR Letter to insure all information is correct (i.e., RA, property owner, names, addresses, legal description, type of NFR Letter, etc.).

For more information, please contact the SRP at 217-524-3300.