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Related Practices
Related Practices

EPA Seeks to Allow Flexibility in Superfund Cleanup Enforcement

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., February 23, 2007

According to a memorandum released February 20, 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance’s Office of Site Remediation Enforcement recommended that Superfund managers adopt a flexible approach to oversight at Superfund cleanup sites.  Instead of a “predetermined one-size-fits-all process,” the memorandum encourages regional Superfund policy managers to set different oversight levels based on specific conditions at individual locations.  The purpose of increased flexibility is to facilitate communication between site managers and potentially responsible parties (PRPs) as a means to reduce oversight cost and increase cleanup efficiency. 

Typical Superfund cleanup settlement agreements stipulate that PRPs are responsible for future costs like EPA oversight.  EPA periodically bills a PRP for administrative costs and the cost of an on-site coordinator.  Facing industry concerns over excessive billing costs, delays, and unspecified billing charges, EPA concluded that it could reduce costs and increase efficiency by instituting a system where program managers and PRPs are encouraged to communicate and to take greater control over cleanup plans at individual sites.  EPA hopes to reduce the need for oversight as a result.

EPA’s recommendation for Superfund sites echoes, and explicitly refers to, guidance issued in September 2003 for facilities subject to corrective actions under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  In a document entitled Results-Based Approaches and Tailored Oversight Guidance, EPA urged regulators deciding specific oversight approaches to weigh the level of cooperation and technical capability of “facilities that have agreed to, and have demonstrated that they are capable of, meeting the environmental objectives and specific requirements established for their facility.”  Similarly, the new recommendation would not lead to less protective cleanups because it would be applied only to Superfund sites where the PRP is cooperative.  The recommendation gives cooperative PRPs another tool to reduce unnecessary costs at Superfund sites.

To view the memorandum and the attached copy of Results-Based Approaches and Tailored Oversight Guidance, please click here.

For more information, please contact Steve Jawetz at 202-789-6045 (sjawetz@bdlaw.com) or Patrick Jacobi at 202-789-6064 (pjacobi@bdlaw.com).

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