Pacific Studies Center ( lsiegel@igc.apc.org )
Thu, 04 Sep 1997 06:40:28 -0700 (PDT)

From: Pacific Studies Center <lsiegel@igc.apc.org>


Voluntary Cleanup Programs, in which states provide minimal or flexible
oversight of owner-initiated hazardous waste cleanups, are generally
considered effective tools for encouraging land owners and other
responsible parties to remediate moderately contaminated property
without adversarial enforcement proceedings. As such, they're often a
key part of Brownfields revitalization plans. 35 states now operate
such programs, and ten such programs have received blessing, in the
form of negotiated agreements, from U.S. EPA.

The General Accounting Office surveyed 17 Voluntary Cleanup Programs in
15 states, and not only did it find widespread differences among such
programs, but it found that EPA has no clear, consistent criteria for
recognizing state voluntary cleanups. Most notably, it found that about
half the states it checked had little or no requirement for public
participation. (California is one of the few states with a serious
commitment, at least on paper, to public participation in voluntary cleanup.)

GAO recommended: "We recommend that the Administrator, EPA work with
the with the states to more clearly define in the agency's final
guidance the criteria that state voluntary cleanup programs should meet
to obtain an agreement limiting EPA's involvement at sites,
particularly in the areas of monitoring after cleanup, acceptable
oversight practices, and public participation. EPA could consider as
possible models the approaches that several state programs have taken
to tailor the requirements for cleanups to the risks and conditions at
individual sites."

"Superfund: State Voluntary Cleanup Programs Provide Incentives to
Encourage Cleanups," GAO/RCED-97-66, April, 1997. Single copies of GAO
reports may be ordered, at no cost, by calling 202/512-6000.

Lenny Siegel