The department works with hazardous waste facilities to investigate and clean up any release of hazardous waste into the soil, ground water, surface water and air. The department adopted a risk-based corrective action process that provides a framework for remediation, or cleanup, decisions at contaminated sites. In some cases, it is not possible or practical to remove all traces of contamination, due to technological, physical or financial limitations. Using a risk-based process, the site cleanup is based on the risks the contamination poses to human health and environmental as it relates to how the site is used, both now and in the future.
Establishing acceptable cleanup levels is based on planned land use (residential or non-residential) and the path the contamination could take (exposure pathway) from the source to humans, animals or the environment (receptors). An exposure pathway could be direct exposure to surface soil, using groundwater or vapor intrusion into buildings. A warehouse that is being redeveloped as residential apartments would require different cleanup levels and controls put in place than if it were to continue to be used in some sort of industrial use, where families do not live and play and workers can protect themselves from exposure. If determined to be safe, based on evaluating the exposure pathways and receptors, contamination may be left in place with appropriate tools and controls put in place to ensure long-term protection.
A risk-based framework can simplify the site cleanup and closure process, speed up the decision-making process, clearly define the endpoints and focus limited resources (both private and public) on sites with the highest actual or potential risks. By applying a risk-based process to most contaminated sites, the department can provide greater consistency in its decision making. Risk-based corrective action protects human health and the environment while allowing constructive current and future site use. The department's Environmental Site Tracking and Research Tool (E-Start) interactive map allows users to access information about site investigations and cleanups within a specific community or area. If additional data is required, you can learn more about specific properties in Missouri undergoing long-term stewardship on the department's Closed and Long-Term Stewardship (LTS) Sites webpage.