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Overview of the Site Remediation Program

This document provides general information on the Site Remediation Program ("Program"), a voluntary cleanup program administered by the Remedial Project Management Section, Bureau of Land, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency ("Illinois EPA"). Regulations identifying Program procedures and standards are found in 35 Ill. Adm. Code 740 and 742.

December 5, 2022: The City of Chicago Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbon concentrations in Background Soil memo is posted on the TACO page

Program Intent

The intent of the Program is to provide Remediation Applicants (i.e., any persons seeking to perform or performing investigative or remedial activities) the opportunity to receive review and evaluation services, technical assistance and no further remediation determinations from the Illinois EPA. The Illinois EPA intends this Program to be flexible and responsive to the requirements of Remediation Applicants ("RAs"), to project constraints and to variable remediation site conditions. The goal(s) and scope of actions at Program remediation sites are normally defined by the RA, subject to the regulations.

Successful participation in the program results in the issuance of a No Further Remediation letter by the Illinois EPA.

No Further Remediation Letter ("comprehensive")

The Illinois EPA is authorized to issue No Further Remediation ("NFR") letters to those RAs who have successfully demonstrated, through proper investigation and, where warranted, remedial action, that all environmental conditions at their remediation sites do not present a significant risk to human health or the environment.

The NFR letter signifies a release from further responsibilities under the Illinois Environmental Protection Act ("Act") and is considered prima facie evidence that the site does not constitute a significant risk of harm to human health and the environment, so long as the site is utilized in accordance with the terms of the NFR letter.

The NFR letter must be filed with the Office of the Recorder or Registrar of Titles of the county in which the remediation site is located so that it forms a permanent part of the chain of title and thereby notifies future owners of the terms of the NFR letter. In some cases, the NFR letter may contain conditions that are necessary to ensure protection of human health and the environment (e.g. use of institutional controls or engineered barriers).

No Further Remediation Letter ("focused")

In addition to the comprehensive NFR letter described above, the Illinois EPA is authorized to issue an NFR letter to those RAs who have demonstrated successful remedial actions for a release or threatened release of specific contaminants of concern. This focused NFR letter may appeal to those RAs trying to satisfy either a contractual relationship or a regulatory concern for a specific release of hazardous substances, pesticides, or petroleum. The focused NFR letter provides to the RA the Illinois EPA's determination that specific contaminants of concern have been successfully remediated to a level that is protective of human health and the environment.

Program Authority

The Illinois EPA is authorized to provide review, evaluation and approval services for actions at remediation sites where hazardous substances, pesticides, or petroleum may be present and for which the remediation site owner requested such services in writing. For RAs other than the remediation site owner, written permission from the remediation site owner, or authorized agent of the owner, must be obtained for enrollment into the Program. The written permission must clearly identify the remediation site for which the services are sought and must contain the original signature of the owner. An authorized agent means a person who is authorized by written consent or by law to act on behalf of a remediation site owner.

Relationship to Superfund/CERCLA

The United States Environmental Protection Agency ("USEPA") and the Illinois EPA have entered into a Superfund Memorandum of Understanding ("SMOU") through which the USEPA concurs that further response actions will not be required by the USEPA at sites which have received an NFR letter. In addition, the USEPA will not plan or anticipate Federal action under CERCLA at an enrolled site, except in emergency situations.


A remediation site is eligible for the Program unless:

  1. The remediation site is on the National Priorities List (Appendix B of 40 CFR 300);

  2. The investigative or remedial activities for which Illinois EPA review, evaluation and approval are sought are required under a current state or federal solid or hazardous waste permit or are closure requirements for a solid or hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal site pursuant to applicable State or Federal laws and implementing regulations (e.g., RCRA Part B, interim status closure; sites regulated by 35 Ill. Adm. Code 811-815);

  3. The investigation or remedial action for which Illinois EPA review, evaluation and approval are requested are required under state or federal underground storage tank laws and implementing regulations [e.g. Leaking Underground Storage Tank ("LUST") sites], or

  4. The investigation or remedial activities for which Illinois EPA review, evaluation and approval are requested are required by a federal court order or an order issued by the USEPA and compliance with the Program would be contrary to the terms of that order.

Any person whose site is excluded above may utilize the Program to the extent allowed by federal law, federal authorization, or by other federal approval. Since 1997, USEPA Region 5 has authorized underground storage tank owners and operators to secure compliance with state and federal leaking underground storage tank laws and implementing regulations through the Site Remediation Program. Tank owners and operators must complete an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Leaking Underground Storage Tank Program Election to Proceed under the Site Remediation Program form as a condition of eligibility.

Available Services

The Illinois EPA is authorized and may agree to provide the following services under the Program:

  1. Review and evaluation of site investigation reports, remediation objectives reports, remedial action plans and remedial action completion reports;

  2. Sample collection and analyses;

  3. Assistance with community relations;

  4. Coordination and communication between the RA and other governmental entities; and

  5. Other activities as requested.

Illinois EPA Program project managers will provide all reasonable assistance to RAs towards identifying regulatory requirements and obtaining Illinois EPA permits for the conduct of corrective action. However, evaluations of legal and regulatory interpretations are not within the purview of the Program. Knowledge of, understanding of, and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations are the responsibility of the RA. For those RAs participating in the Program, Section 58.4 of the Act exempts certain state issued permit requirements but does not exempt federally mandated permit requirements or state equivalents.

Enrollment in the Program

Completion of the Site Remediation Program Application and Services Agreement Form (DRM-1) is required of persons requesting enrollment into the Program. This form requires identification of the remediation site, the RA, the property owner, and project objectives. In addition, the RA will be required to either: (1) make an advance partial payment in the amount of $500 when submitting the application and service agreement, or (2) request that the Illinois EPA estimate the total costs to the Illinois EPA of providing the requested services and assess an advance partial payment not to exceed $5,000 or one-half of the total anticipated costs of the Illinois EPA, whichever is less. If the second option is selected, Form DRM-3 must be completed and attached to the application and services agreement. The Illinois EPA will assess and request an advance partial payment based on the information provided in the DRM-3. Advance partial payments are not refundable.

Application and Services Agreement forms, with attachments and accompanying documentation as necessary, must be mailed or delivered to the address designated on the forms. Application and Services Agreement forms are also available from the Illinois EPA at the following address:

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Bureau of Land #24
Remedial Project Management Section
1021 North Grand Avenue East
P.O. Box 19276
Springfield, IL 62794-9276

Within 30 days of receipt of the Application and Services Agreement and any initial project documents, the Illinois EPA will approve or deny the application based on completeness and eligibility. If the Application and Services Agreement is incomplete, or actions are ineligible, or Illinois EPA resources are unavailable to provide the requested review and evaluation services, the Illinois EPA will issue a denial-of-services letter to the RA. Otherwise, if the Application and Services Agreement and attached documents are in good order and the advance partial payment has been paid, the Illinois EPA will issue an enrollment letter acknowledging receipt of the Application and Services Agreement and advance partial payment and identifying the Illinois EPA project manager assigned to the project. Check your enrollment status here.

Remediation Applicant ("RA") Commitments to the Program

Successful participation in the Program requires that a RA adhere to the four (4) stipulations contained in the Application and Services Agreement form. These include:

  1. Conformance with the procedures of the Act and implementing regulations;

  2. Allowing for or otherwise arranging remediation site visits or other remediation site evaluation by the Illinois EPA when so requested;

  3. Agreement to pay any reasonable costs incurred and documented by the Illinois EPA in providing such services under the Program; and

  4. Making an advance partial payment to the Illinois EPA for such anticipated services.

Conduct of Site Activities and Preparation of Plans and Reports

All remediation site activities must be conducted by, or under the supervision of, an Illinois licensed professional engineer ("LPE"). Remediation site investigations must be performed to identify any recognized environmental conditions existing at the remediation site, the related contaminants of concern, and associated factors that will aid in the identification of risks to human health, safety and the environment, the determination of remediation objectives, and the remedial design. Site investigations must satisfy data quality objectives for field and laboratory operations to ensure that all data are scientifically valid and of known precision.

All plans and reports submitted for review and evaluation must be prepared by, or under the supervision of, an Illinois LPE. Any plan or report submitted to the Illinois EPA for review and evaluation must be accompanied by a Site Remediation Program Form ( DRM-2).

The Illinois EPA has 60 days from the receipt of any plan or report to conduct a review and make a determination to approve or disapprove the plan or report, or approve the plan or report with conditions. If any plans or reports are submitted concurrently, the Illinois EPA's timeframe for review increases to a total of 90 days for all plans or reports so submitted.

Upon completion of the review, the Illinois EPA will notify the RA by certified mail of its final determination (approval or denial) on the plan or report.

Required Plans and Reports

The four (4) required plans and reports for corrective action projects are:

  1. Site Investigation Report

  2. Remediation Objectives Report

  3. Remedial Action Plan

  4. Remedial Action Completion Report

Site Investigation Report

All RAs must submit to the Illinois EPA a Site Investigation Report that identifies recognized environmental conditions existing at the remediation site, the related contaminants of concern, and associated factors. Such information will be used to aid in the identification of risk to human health and the environment, the determination of remediation objectives, and the design and implementation of a Remedial Action Plan. For large or complex projects, the Illinois EPA recommends the RA obtain Illinois EPA approval of a work plan for the site investigation activities before work begins to avoid missteps and omissions.

If the RA has elected to seek a comprehensive NFR letter, a Site Investigation Report - Comprehensive Site Investigation must be prepared that identifies all recognized environmental conditions and all related contaminants of concern that may be expected to exist at the remediation site. The report must document the remediation site investigation performed as a two-phase environmental assessment. Unless an alternative is approved by the Illinois EPA, the phase I environmental assessment must be conducted in accordance with the procedures described in the "Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process" (ASTME 1527-00).

The Phase II Environmental Site Assessment is a remediation site investigation employing sampling, analyses, and field screening measurements to characterize the nature, concentration, and extent of contaminants of concern (if any) at the remediation site and the significant physical features of the site and vicinity that may affect contaminant fate and transport and risk to human health and the environment.

If the RA has elected to seek a focused NFR letter and has conducted a focused site investigation (e.g., a site investigation limited to specific contaminants of concern), a Site Investigation Report- Focused Site Investigation must be prepared.

The Site Investigation Report (comprehensive or focused) must document, to the Illinois EPA's satisfaction, that the nature and extent of all contamination for which a NFR letter is sought has been fully characterized. In addition, data must be collected that meet minimum data quality objectives. Data quality objectives are qualitative and quantitative statements specified to ensure that data of known and appropriate quality are obtained.

Remediation Objectives Report

If the Site Investigation Report reveals evidence of the existence of one or more recognized environmental conditions, the RA must develop appropriate remediation objectives. Remediation objectives for the Program are developed utilizing the Tiered Approach to Corrective Action Objectives ("TACO") procedure set forth in 35 Ill. Adm. Code 742.

The TACO procedure presents an approach to development of remediation objectives that includes an option for the use of any of three tiers for developing applicable remediation objectives, the exclusion of pathways from further consideration, and the use of area background concentrations as remediation objectives. An understanding of human exposure routes is necessary to properly conduct an evaluation under this approach. In some cases, human exposure routes can be excluded from further consideration prior to any tier evaluation. The tier or combination of tiers used to develop remediation objectives will be dependent upon site-specific conditions and remediation goals.

Tier 1 cleanup objectives are contained in five (5) tables. Values are based upon a presumption of either residential or industrial/commercial property use. Soil cleanup objectives are established for protection of Class I groundwater (35 Ill. Adm. Code 620.210) or Class II groundwater (35 Ill. Adm. Code 620.220), and for protection of human health from inhalation, soil ingestion, and groundwater ingestion. The lowest of the applicable exposure values is considered the remediation objective for the remediation site.

Tier 2 cleanup objectives are derived from the exposure models used to generate many Tier 1 remediation objectives, but allow site-specific information to be used to calculate remediation objectives. Additional soil sampling data is required, although this effort typically entails only a minimal incremental effort relative to the Tier 1 evaluation. Derivation of less stringent Tier 2 remediation objectives may alleviate corrective action requirements in many situations, but may be an unwarranted expense in others. The use of both institutional controls and engineered barriers may be considered in developing remediation objectives.

Tier 3 provides RAs the opportunity to conduct variable scale risk assessment activities and more complex contaminant fate and transport modeling than the standard Tier 2 exposure models. RAs may demonstrate protection of human health and the environment by less stringent remediation objectives, by implementing engineered barriers, institutional controls, post-remediation use restrictions, or by any combination of these.

Exclusion of pathways from further consideration is based on effective source control coupled with site conditions and an appropriate institutional control that effectively prohibits human exposure through a given pathway. If an exposure route is excluded from consideration, then no numeric cleanup objective need be developed for the exposure route.

For remediation sites where the background level for a regulated substance does not pose an acute threat to human health or the environment, the RA may elect to develop remediation objectives appropriate for the remediation site using area background procedures in TACO. RAs will be required to submit a Remediation Objectives Report containing the supporting documents and explanation for the selection of the remediation objectives. If, in addition to remediation objectives, other types of remediation measures are required, the report must describe these measures and demonstrate their effectiveness for remediating the recognized environmental conditions.

Remedial Action Plan

If concentrations of contaminants of concern exceed the remediation objectives established for the remediation site, the RA must submit a Remedial Action Plan designed to meet remediation goals (i.e., remediation objectives and site-specific response actions). The Remedial Action Plan must describe the proposed remedy and evaluate its ability and effectiveness to achieve the remediation objectives approved for the remediation site.

Remedial Action Completion Report

Upon completion of all corrective actions, the RA must submit a report attesting that all remediation objectives, site-specific response actions, and Program data quality objectives have been successfully attained.

Recording of the No Further Remediation Letter

Within 30 days of the Illinois EPA's approval of a remedial action completion report, the Illinois EPA will issue a NFR letter applicable to the remediation site. The RA receiving the NFR letter from the Illinois EPA must submit the NFR letter to the Office of the Recorder or the Registrar of Titles of the county in which the remediation site is located within 45 days of receipt of the NFR letter. The Office of the Recorder or the Registrar of Titles must accept and record the NFR letter in accordance with Illinois law so that it forms a permanent part of the chain of title for the remediation site. This will notify future purchasers of the remediation site's participation in the Program and whether any engineered barriers or institutional controls need maintenance to protect human health and the environment. Within 30 days of recording, the RA must obtain and submit to the Illinois EPA a copy of the recorded letter demonstrating that the letter has been recorded as issued.

Tailored Participation

Each project is unique in regard to its goals, remediation site conditions, scope, budget and schedule. The Illinois EPA recommends that a RA evaluate all of these factors to determine an appropriate course of action for the conduct of voluntary preventive and/or corrective action. The inherent flexibility in the Program allows RAs to tailor participation in response to project economics.

A RA may elect to submit the Site Investigation Report, the Remediation Objectives Report, the Remedial Action Plan, and the Remedial Action Completion Report individually, or as a complete first submittal. Often, where a release of contamination is well defined and remedial actions consist of contaminant removal, this all-inclusive submittal may save considerable time and expense.

The sequential submittal and Agency approval of required documents (as well as elective documents such as work plans for site investigations and risk assessments) may be desired where contamination is not well defined, where remedial actions must be more thoroughly evaluated, and where the project schedule allows. This approach affords a much greater degree of flexibility in the establishment of remediation objectives.

Enforcement Actions

Although Illinois EPA enforcement actions may be deferred for those remediation sites enrolled in the Program, enrollment does not limit the Illinois EPA's authority to take enforcement action. The Illinois EPA reserves the right to initiate enforcement actions at any Program site.

Review and Evaluation Licensed Professional Engineer (RELPE)

An RA may elect to contract with a Review and Evaluation Licensed Professional Engineer ("RELPE") who will perform review and evaluation services on behalf of and under the supervision of the Illinois EPA relative to remediation site activities. Prior to entering into a contract with a RA, the regulations require the RELPE to provide the RA with the following information:

  • Firm Name
  • Address
  • Telephone/fax
  • Principal officials and titles
  • Number of full-time employees
  • Business structure (corporation, partnership, limited liability partnership, limited liability company, professional services corporation)
  • License Number issued by Secretary of State, if any
  • License Number issued by Dept. of Professional Regulation, if any
  • Name of Illinois Registered Managing Agent
  • Names of insurance carriers and amount of coverage: Worker's Compensation, General Liability, and Professional Liability.
  • If the stated professional liability policy includes coverage for "environmental" claims relative to release of pollutants. If not covered, or covered by a different carrier or in a different amount, the information must so state.
  • If the firm or owners has ever filed bankruptcy. If "yes," the information must state when and explain the circumstances.
  • If the firm is an outgrowth, result, continuation or organization of a former business. If "yes," the information must explain the background.
  • A list of the RELPE's (and other) key full-time employees who will participate on this project with the RELPE. The information must provide resumes for each, including Illinois P.E. License #, certifications, project role, years of experience in related work and education.
  • A list of at least five projects similar in nature for which the RELPE has performed environmental preventive or corrective action, and identifying the role of the RELPE.
  • If employees are to be assigned to the project in compliance with 29 CFR 1910.120 (HAZWOPER training and medical surveillance) as applicable to their role on the project.

Prior to entering into the contract with the RELPE, the RA must identify to the Illinois EPA the potential terms of the contract. At a minimum the contract must provide that the RELPE will submit any plans or reports directly to the Illinois EPA, will take his or her directions for work assignments from the Illinois EPA, and will perform assigned work on behalf of the Illinois EPA. In addition, the contract must set forth the scope of work for which the RA has engaged the RELPE, the effective date of the contract, and that costs incurred by the RELPE shall be paid directly to the RELPE by the RA.

Reasonable costs incurred by the Illinois EPA for oversight of the RELPE and its review and evaluation services must be paid by the RA directly to the Illinois EPA in accordance with the terms of the review and evaluation services agreement.

Project documents submitted for review on behalf of the RA may be submitted concurrently to both the Illinois EPA and the RELPE, but all subsequent communications, telephone calls, meetings, etc. should go be coordinated with the assigned Illinois EPA project manager. The RELPE's review/evaluation notes, comments etc. must be addressed to the Illinois EPA for final approval, prior to communication back to the RA. The RELPE will be given appropriate procedural guidance and checklists to use in review/evaluation activities in order to minimize Illinois EPA administration.

In no event shall the RELPE acting on behalf of the Illinois EPA be an employee of the RA or the owner or operator of the remediation site or be an employee of any other person the RA has contracted to provide services relative to the remediation site.

Reimbursement of Project Costs Incurred by the Agency

RAs are required to reimburse the Illinois EPA for services. Illinois EPA-incurred costs that may be requested for reimbursement are:

  1. Personal services costs and indirect costs;

  2. Illinois EPA travel costs;

  3. Professional and artistic services contractual costs;

  4. Laboratory costs;

  5. Other contractual costs; and

  6. Other costs as agreed.

The first request for payment will reflect the deduction of the advance partial payment from the costs incurred. A request for payment will not be sent until the advance partial payment has been depleted. Unexpended portions of advance partial payments are not refundable.

Payments for costs incurred by the Illinois EPA for the performance of services under the Program must be submitted to the Illinois EPA within 45 days after receipt of the request for payment. Such payments must be mailed or delivered to the address designated by the Illinois EPA in the request for payment.

In addition, a NFR assessment fee based on Illinois EPA-incurred costs up to a maximum of $2,500 will be due within 45 days after receipt of the request for final payment.

Withdrawal from the Program

Enrollment and continued participation in the program are wholly voluntary. A RA may, at any time, notify the Illinois EPA in writing that the Illinois EPA services previously requested are no longer wanted. The Illinois EPA will provide to the RA a final request for payment for services provided within 180 days after receipt of the withdrawal notice. Advance partial payments are not refundable upon withdrawal from the Program.