Cleanup of IAS Hazardous Waste Sites

PROBLEM FOCUS:

The cleanup of inactive and abandoned hazardous waste sites and placement of such sites on the Superfund, or National Priorities List (NPL).

OBJECTIVE:

To gain an understanding of how a site is cleaned up and how it is placed on the Superfund list (NPL).

BACKGROUND:

Getting a site placed on the NPL and choosing the appropriate method of site cleanup can be a lengthy process. The basic steps used by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to determine cleanup and to determine whether a site will be placed on the Superfund list are as follows:
  • Site Discovery - Sites are reported by companies, concerned citizens, disgruntled employees, etc.
  • Preliminary Survey - Consists of a survey taken by driving through an area. The field investigator will investigate the site to see if the reports are true.
  • Preliminary Assessment - Consists of a collection and review of all reported historical information pertinent to a given site, includes sources and types of hazardous substances present and identifies the potentially responsible parties.
  • Site Inspection - An on-site investigation is done at this point in the procedure. A typical on-site investigation involves sampling, surveying, monitoring, reconnaissance, and other field activities.
  • Ranking - A score of 28.5 or greater on the EPA Hazard Ranking System is required to designate the site on the National Priority List Site for funding by the EPA Superfund. The score of a site is based on three conditions: (1) air; (2) ground water, and (3) surface water. Ranking of a site occurs after each site inspection. If a site does not make the EPA minimum point cut-off for the list, the state must do something in terms of cleanup. If a site is deemed an emergency situation, it is taken out of the point program and remedial action (cleanup) is undertaken. Direct contact by a population and potential for fire and explosions are used as determining factors in the desirability of an emergency removal action.
  • Site Inspection Follow-up - An on-going investigation of EPA and DEQ personnel of unanswered concerns and questions about the site is completed. Suggestions are made to clean up the site and the cost of further action is assessed.
  • Expanded Site Inspection - The additional investigation of concerns and questions about the site is completed here. It serves as a reinforcement for step 6.
  • Expanded Site Inspection Follow-up - Reinforces the investigations with closer supervision by EPA and DEQ personnel.
  • Remedial Investigations - The following items are completed during this phase of the investigation: (1) visitation to the site; (2) definition of boundaries of contamination and (3) determination of extent and degree of contamination of each of the conditions - air, soil, surface water, etc.

State and federal governments must agree on cleanup procedure and on a schedule for the cleanup.

The following are several ways to finance the cleanup of a Superfund site: (1) responsible party can clean up the site voluntarily; (2) through federal assistance using Superfund money and using a contractor for cleanup; (3) responsible party can be forced to cleanup through legal action and (4) state and local governments can assume the cost of cleanup and use a contractor for cleanup.

Remediation Services, a division the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality's Office of Environmental Assessment, has the task of administering the state hazardous waste cleanup fund and projects funded through the U.S. EPA's Superfund program. To that end the Remediation Services Division ranks potentially hazardous waste sites to be included on the National Priority List maintained by the EPA for cleanup action. The method used to rank these sites is to score them as to their possible impact on public health and welfare, using criteria such as the contamination of ground water, surface water and air in the vicinity of an inactive or abandoned hazardous waste site. The Remediation Services Division develops supporting information for each site, including monitoring well data, census population figures and surveys of drinking water wells. Louisiana has approximately 400 sites that are being evaluated as potentially hazardous inactive waste sites.


METHODS OF HAZARDOUS WASTE SITE CLEANUP - EXAMPLES & ILLUSTRATIONS


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