I found hazardous substance contamination on my property. Do I have to report it to the state?
Missouri’s Spill Bill (RSMo 260.500-552) requires anyone having control over a hazardous substance release to report that release to the state. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources maintains a reference database of these releases. The minimum reportable quantities are listed in the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Although the law pertains more specifically to emergencies, such as spills and accidents, the department recommends reporting historical releases as they are discovered, whether you enroll the site in the Brownfields/Voluntary Cleanup Program (BVCP) or not. Reporting historical releases is strongly encouraged. The statewide reporting line is 573-634-2436. There are also federal reporting requirements. The federal reporting line is 800-424-8802.
What are the benefits of voluntarily cleaning up my site?
The most important reason to clean up your site, aside from ethical considerations, is the continuing environmental liability until the site is cleaned up. Even if the contamination does not seem very serious, lack of a government-certified cleanup for sites with known or suspected contamination may hinder property transactions or invite legal action by neighbors.
Contamination in soil can eventually move to groundwater and from there to adjacent properties, making cleanup more expensive or technically infeasible. The longer you wait to remediate a site, the more likely the cost of remediation will increase. BVCP gives you much of the control over the time frame, costs and remediation techniques.
What kinds of properties use the BVCP?
Types of properties in the BVCP range from residential to small businesses to multi-acre heavy industrial manufacturing facilities (both operating and closed). Reasons for enrollment include planned or pending property transactions, facility expansion or redevelopment, long-term follow up of emergency response actions or cleanup of state hazardous waste Registry sites with the goal of Registry delisting. In sale or redevelopment cases, to minimize environmental liability, the prospective future owner or the lending institution may desire a state-certified cleanup prior to finalizing the transaction. Generally, sites under enforcement actions are not eligible for the program.
Who performs the site investigation and cleanup and who pays for it?
Participants typically hire environmental consultants to perform assessment and remediation work or they use their own in-house environmental professionals. All assessment and remediation costs are paid by the participant. The BVCP’s role is to provide oversight of all activities, including review and approval of site investigation and remedial action work plans and a certificate of completion when the remediating party has successfully investigated and cleaned up the property.
How much does participation cost?
The BVCP is a fee-for-service program where the participant pays the department’s site-specific oversight costs and overhead. Currently, oversight time is billed at $65 - 80 per hour based on personnel salaries plus overhead. The total oversight cost depends on the nature and extent of contamination and other site-specific factors. Total costs average about $3,000 per site but vary widely among the different types of sites. Oversight cost is usually a minor portion of the total costs incurred by the participant in site investigation and cleanup.
Is there funding available to help pay for my cleanup?
The program provides some Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments under our U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded Brownfields Site Specific Assessment program. For more information, see the fact sheet, Brownfields Site-Specific Assessment (PUB2132). The Missouri Department of Economic Development’s (DED) Brownfields Redevelopment Program or other DED programs may be able to assist if the site meets eligibility requirements. The Environmental Improvement and Energy Resources Authority (EIERA) provides low interest rate loans and sub grants for environmental remediation of eligible properties. EPA also provides some grants for Brownfields redevelopment.
How long will it take to get a certificate of completion from the department for my site?
Approximately 50 percent of the properties that have completed the process received their certificate of completion in less than 18 months from the date of application. More complicated sites take longer, while some sites receive a certificate of completion in as little as three months. The time to completion for a given site depends on the nature and extent of contamination and the aggressiveness with which the participant wishes to pursue site characterization and remediation. The program tries to keep turnaround time for report review to a minimum, usually a matter of weeks but it may be as long as 180 days for reports and 90 days for a remedial action plan.
What does the certificate of completion actually say?
The certificate of completion states the site has been cleaned up to department standards and no further remedial action is required unless additional contamination is discovered. The letter provides a measure of protection from both the department and EPA, through a memorandum of agreement, against future environmental liability related to the property. The letter pertains to the property itself and therefore protects both current and future owners of the property.
I already cleaned up my property on my own. Can I still enter the program and get a certificate of completion?
No. State law specifies after remediation has been initiated, the property is generally no longer eligible for the program. An exception is when cleanup occurred prior to inception of the program in 1994, or any actions taken in response to emergencies.
What if contamination is found to have migrated off my site onto an adjacent property?
The department has developed an off-site contaminant migration policy to deal with these situations. The policy specifies what actions must be taken by a remediating party to attempt to gain access, to investigate and to remediate the neighboring property if necessary. The BVCP does not require unrelated contaminants found on neighboring property
, to be remediated.
Neighboring properties must be remediated to unrestricted use levels unless the adjacent property owner agrees to place an activity and use limitation in the chain of title for that property.
The off-site contaminant migration policy also addresses cases where access cannot be obtained by the remediating party. For more information, see the fact sheet, Missouri Risk-Based Corrective Action – Closure of Sites with Contamination off the Source Property (PUB2400).
What if contamination is found to have migrated from an adjacent property onto my site?
Generally, as long as there is no exposure threat on the enrolled property, a remediating party is not required to clean up contaminated groundwater that has been shown to originate solely from off-site sources. The program has adopted EPA’s Policy Toward Owners of Property Containing Contaminated Aquifers on this matter. Groundwater investigation may be required. Any potential exposures must be evaluated and potential risk assessed and managed. However, all on-site soil contamination must be cleaned up to approved standards regardless of the source to obtain closure through the program. For more information, see the fact sheet, Missouri Risk-Based Corrective Action – Management of Contamination Originating off the Property (PUB2399).
How clean is clean?
Risk-based cleanup levels protective of human health and the environment are determined using the process described in the guidance document Departmental Missouri Risk-Based Corrective Action (MRBCA). The specific cleanup target levels for a given site will depend on land use, type and extent of contamination and many other factors. Sites not cleaned up to levels suitable for unrestricted use are required to file an environmental covenant in the chain of title for the property. For sites closing with an environmental covenant, the program requires a onetime monitoring fee used to fund long-term information tracking and post-closure inspections of the provisions of the covenant.
Several distinct contaminants have been detected on my property. Can I enter the program for oversight on cleaning up some of the contaminants, but not others?
The certificate of completion pertains to the entire property and all contaminants of concern in all media must be addressed prior to issuance of the certificate. The certificate states the entire property is clean to state standards. BVCP cannot offer a conditional or partial certificate of completion that addresses selected contaminants or affected environmental media but not others. However, the program may issue certificates of completion for specific parcels on a large site. This is considered on a case-by-case basis.
There is petroleum contamination on my site. Can I clean it up under BVCP?
Due to changes in the BVCP law in 1999, tanks exempted from Missouri Petroleum Storage Tank regulations (e.g., heating oil tanks) and other sources (e.g., pipelines, salvage yards) may be eligible for the program.
Contamination from regulated petroleum storage tanks must be investigated and remediated with oversight from the department’s Tanks Section and is not eligible for the BVCP. Exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis for tanks that are not eligible for the petroleum storage tank insurance fund. The program coordinates with the Tank Section to accommodate properties with regulated tanks in addition to other contamination.
Is monitored natural attenuation (MNA) considered a form of remediation under BVCP?
The BVCP acknowledges that MNA occurs, at least to some extent, at most sites in Missouri. The program does allow the use of natural attenuation in some circumstances and with certain restrictions. It is important to note that natural attenuation is not a “do nothing” approach. It often involves a high degree of site characterization, long-term monitoring and contingency planning.
Brownfields/Voluntary Cleanup Program (PUB2035) http://dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub2035.htm
Brownfields Site-Specific Assessments (PUB2132) http://dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub2132.htm
Departmental MRBCA Guidance http://dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/mrbcadocument.htm
Missouri Registry Annual Report (PUB 337) http://dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub337.pdf
Missouri Risk Based Corrective Action (MRBCA) Guidance (PUB2187) http://dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub2187.htm
Missouri Risk-Based Corrective Action-Closure of Sites with Contamination Off the Source Property (PUB 2400) http://dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub2400.htm
Missouri Risk-Based Corrective Action-Management of Contamination Originating Off the Property (PUB 2399) http://dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub2399.htm
Policy Toward Owners of Property Containing Contaminated Aquifers http://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-09/documents/contamin-aqui-rpt.pdf
BVCP website www.missouribrownfields.com