The process consists of six basic elements that take a site from entry to completion in the program:
- Part 1 - Eligibility. The first step required of parties wishing to participate in the Voluntary Remediation Program is to submit a "Request for Eligibility Determination". The request should consist of a completed VRP application and any other information that would assist in the eligibility determination.
- Part 2 -Registration Fee. When eligibility has been determined, the participant pays a registration fee. After the fee is paid, the site is formally enrolled in the program, and DEQ begins to review materials pertaining to the site.
- Part 3 - Submittal Requirements. The participant prepares and submits a voluntary remediation report, which consists of a site characterization report, a remedial action work plan, documentation of public notice and a demonstration of completion.
- Part 4 - Remediation Goals. Remediation goals in the VRP may be established based on either background levels or on risk assessments. Institutional controls (e.g., land use restrictions, ground water use restrictions) may be included in the VRP remediation goals to facilitate closure of a site.
- Part 5 - Public Participation. An essential requirement of the VRP is public participation. It is intended to provide the public the opportunity to express opinions in the VRP process.
- Part 6 - Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of Remediation. If DEQ is satisfied that the objectives of the remedial action work plan have been met, and that the established cleanup standards for the site have been achieved, the DEQ director issues a certification of satisfactory completion of remediation. The VRP process is then complete.
A potential participant in the Voluntary Remediation Program must first submit a request for eligibility determination. This request is usually a letter, formally declaring the desire to participate in the program, as well as a completed application presenting documentation that the site meets the administrative requirements of eligibility according to parameters specified in 9 VAC 20-160-30. The request for eligibility determination also includes information such as operational history, identification of contamination, and regulatory jurisdictional analysis. The VRP staff then verifies that the site is eligible by requesting the appropriate DEQ regional office to determine if remediation is mandated under its jurisdiction (primarily waste compliance and petroleum programs). Concurrently, the application is reviewed by the Office of Waste Permitting to determine if there is a corrective action requirement imposed through DEQ's RCRA corrective action authorities. Following this review a determination is made whether the site is eligible for the VRP. The participant is then directed to proceed to the next phase of the VRP, or is notified of the site's ineligibility for the program.
A site that has already been cleaned up may be eligible for the VRP. In this case, remediation activities must be documented as required by VRP regulations, and cleanup levels must be commensurate with VRP criteria. Petroleum releases not mandated for cleanup under Article 9 of the Virginia Water Control Law (petroleum storage tanks) may be eligible for participation in the program. However, if such sites are enrolled in the program, they are not eligible for reimbursement through the Underground Storage Tank/Above Ground Storage Tank Remediation Reimbursement Program.
Guidance for Determining Eligibility of Sites for the Voluntary Remediation Program is now available in Adobe PDF format.
An application to participate in the Voluntary Remediation Program is now available in Adobe PDF format. A Microsoft Word formatted application is also available.
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If DEQ deems a site eligible for the Voluntary Remediation Program, the participant is notified in writing. The participant then remits the appropriate registration fee. DEQ will commence the technical review of submitted material after the registration fee has been paid. The amount of the registration fee is 1.0 percent of the total estimated cost for remediation at the site or $5,000, whichever is less. If a registration fee of 1.0 percent of remediation cost is paid, a generalized cost estimate is prepared and submitted to DEQ. It should include costs for site investigation, report development, remedial system installation, operation and maintenance, and other costs associated with participating in the VRP and cleaning up the site.
Note: DEQ concurrence with a cost estimate does not constitute approval of the remedial approach assumed in the estimate.
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The participant prepares and submits to DEQ a voluntary remediation report, which is the master document for remediation activities at the site. It consists of the following three components: site characterization/remedial action plan, documentation of public notice and demonstration of completion, if applicable. As each component is completed, it is inserted into the master report, which will serve as the archived document for the site.
Site characterization/remedial action work plan. The site characterization presents the results of investigations performed at the site. It includes the nature of the release of contamination, a delineation of the extent of contamination in all media (i.e., soil, ground water, surface water), an evaluation of the risks to human health and the environment, proposed remediation levels consistent with 9 VAC 20-160-90 that are protective of human health and the environment, and a proposed remedial action. For more information, review the Voluntary Remediation Program Risk Assessment Guidance. The site characterization may include a justification for no further action.
The remedial action work plan, if required, presents activities, schedules, permits required, and design plans for the remedial action proposed in the site characterization report.
Guidance for Addressing Contaminated Groundwater at Voluntary Remediation Sites is now available in Adobe PDF format.
- Documentation of the public notice. A summary of comments and responses to comments received during public participation activities is prepared and submitted to DEQ. Public participation is discussed in greater detail below.
Demonstration of completion. If it is applicable, a demonstration of completion is prepared. It includes an evaluation of the remedial action, the total cost of the remediation, and, if necessary, results of confirmation sampling to demonstrate that cleanup goals have been achieved or criteria for completion of remediation have been satisfied. The demonstration of completion also includes a certification by the participant that remediation was performed in compliance with applicable regulations.
Note: It is the participant's responsibility to ensure that investigation and remediation activities are performed in accordance with all applicable and appropriate regulations (e.g., solid or hazardous waste management, erosion and sedimentation control, air emission control, and wetlands and other sensitive ecological habitat protection). Although these may not be required under state or federal law, measures may be necessary to ensure no further release of contaminants and protection of human health and the environment.
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- Use classification
Remediation levels may be based on background (naturally occurring), published risk-based standards or a risk assessment. If a risk assessment is performed, it should consider exposure pathways for current and future land use for levels of contaminants that will remain at the site and in surrounding areas. For more information, review the Voluntary Remediation Program Risk Assessment Guidance. The remediation levels will dictate whether the closure of a VRP site is "restricted" or "unrestricted."
For an unrestricted closure of a VRP site, all media at a site are cleaned up to remediation levels based on either background or standards for residential exposure. No remediation techniques or controls which require ongoing management (such as institutional or engineering controls) may be employed to achieve this classification.
Restricted closures, as the term suggests, involve restrictions on the use of the sites. A description of use restrictions is typically attached to the deed for the property so that future purchasers are aware of them. Restrictions may include, but not be limited to, institutional controls and engineering controls. Examples of institutional controls are restrictions on ground water used, or land use. Engineering controls may include caps or fences. Types of restrictions vary with site conditions, and may be imposed for only a specific media; for example, ground water. The future use of a site with restrictions may be anything from residential to industrial. The restrictions necessary to attain standards for a particular land use are described in the certification of satisfactory completion of remediation.
- Remediation Levels
After the site characterization is completed, remediation levels are derived using the three-tiered approach described in the regulations. Any one tier or combination of tiers may be applied to establish remediation levels for contaminants present at a site, as long as site use restrictions discussed above are considered.
- Tier I remediation levels are based on background samples collected from portions of the site not impacted by the contaminants of concern.
- Tier II remediation levels are based on published, media-specific values, derived using conservative default assumptions.
- Tier III remediation levels are based upon a site-specific risk assessment, which considers site-specific assumptions about current and potential future exposure scenarios for population(s) of concern, including ecological receptors, and characteristics of the affected media.
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To comply with the public participation requirements of the voluntary remediation regulations, the participant must complete the following:
- Provide a notice describing the proposed or completed remedy to the local government where the site is located.
- Provide the same notice to all adjacent property owners.
- Publish the notice once in a newspaper of general circulation in the area affected by the voluntary action.
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A certification of satisfactory completion of remediation is issued after a participant satisfactorily demonstrates attainment of the remediation levels with or without the future site use restrictions, and the director concurs with all work submitted. The certificate contains an outline of conditions under which it is issued. These may include, but are not limited to:
- A summary of the information that was considered.
- Restrictions on future use.
- Required institutional controls.
- Required engineering controls and their maintenance.
The certificate provides immunity to enforcement actions under the Virginia Waste Management Act (Section 10.1-1400 et seq. of the Code of Virginia), the Virginia State Water Control Law (Section 62.1-44.2 et seq. of the Code of Virginia), the Virginia Air Pollution Control Law (Section 10.1-1300 et seq. of the Code of Virginia), or other applicable Virginia law. The immunity granted by the certificate is limited to site conditions at the time of issuance, which are described in the Voluntary Remediation Report (i.e., nature and extent of contamination), and is conditional upon completeness and accuracy of the information in that report. Specific limitations of the certificate are enumerated in it.
If a use restriction is specified in the certificate, a description of the restriction must be attached to the deed for the property. The restriction also must be recorded with the land records for the site in the Circuit Court where the site is located. The certificate itself may serve as the record and may be attached to the deed. If the closure is unrestricted, recordation of the certificate is optional. The immunity accorded by the certificate applies to the participant, but also "runs with the land" identified as the site.
Guidance for the Voluntary Remediation Program Certification of Satisfactory Completion of Remediation is now available in Adobe PDF format.
A Model Certificate is now available in PDF format. A Microsoft Word formatted Model Certificate is also available.
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