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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES RESEARCH CENTERS

Opening Date: November 3, 1999
Closing Date: March 28, 2000

Background
Center Program Objectives
Focus areas for HSRCs
Training, Technology Transfer and Technical Assistance (outreach) Focus Areas
Center Administration Features
Long-Term Self-Sufficiency
Center Leadership and Management
Administrative and Operating Requirements
Eligibility
Standard Instructions for Submitting Applications
How to Apply
Review and Selection
Contacts

Standard Forms
Additional Forms
Download file in MS Word including additional forms
View the past work of HSRCs

 INTRODUCTION

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to establish up to five (5) university-based Hazardous Substance Research Centers (HSRCs).  Centers will be funded for up to five years.  In this announcement, the EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) invites applications to establish HSRCs to address priority hazardous substance research and training, technology transfer, and technical assistance (referred to throughout this document as "outreach").  A total of $5 million, split in two parts: 70 percent for research, and 30 percent for other Center activities, including training, technology transfer, and technical assistance, is available for the first year.  Awards will begin after October 1, 2000, and are subject to the availability of funds.

Existing HSRCs approaching the conclusion of their current term of EPA support, and new consortia are eligible to submit proposals to this solicitation.  All proposals will be subjected to the same review process and review criteria.

The Centers funded under this solicitation will be managed by ORD's National Center for Environmental Research (NCER).

This announcement provides background information, summarizes EPA’s interest in establishing these Centers and describes the application and review process.

EPA'S MISSION AND RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

The mission of EPA is to protect public health and to safeguard the natural environment (air, water, and land) upon which life depends.  To achieve this mission, EPA must apply sound science to assess environmental problems and evaluate possible solutions.  A significant challenge is to support both long-term research that anticipates future environmental problems and research that fills gaps in today's knowledge.  This Request for Applications (RFA) is an important step toward establishing a sound scientific foundation for both current and future environmental protection.

EPA's research programs focus on reduction of risks to public health and ecosystems and on the reduction of uncertainty associated with environmental health risk assessment and management.  Through its laboratories and grants to academic and other non-profit institutions, EPA promotes research in both human health and ecology, according the highest priority to those areas of risk assessment where uncertainty is high, and which are in critical need of new concepts, methods, and data.  EPA also fosters the development and evaluation of new risk reduction technologies including pollution prevention, end-of-pipe controls, remediation, and monitoring.  In all areas, EPA is interested in research that recognizes issues relating to environmental justice, the concept of achieving equal protection from environmental hazards for all people without regard to race, economic status, or culture.

BACKGROUND

Recognizing that scientific knowledge and existing science-based technologies are inadequate to fully address the identification, remediation, and management of hazardous substance problems, Congress enacted the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), which amended the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to include a new Section 311, entitled Research, Development and Demonstration.  The broad purpose of Section 311 is to establish a comprehensive Federal program of research, development, demonstration, and training to promote alternative and advanced treatment technologies and to improve the scientific capability to detect, assess, and mitigate risks associated with all major aspects of the manufacture, use, and disposal of hazardous substances.

To support this broad purpose, Section 311(d) of SARA authorized EPA to provide Federal assistance to geographically distributed, university-based centers throughout the United States.  In 1989, five HSRCs’s were established in the United States to provide the following:

  • short-and long-term research on the manufacture, disposal, cleanup, and management of hazardous substances;
  • dissemination of research results and coordination of efforts with other institutions active in related areas;
  • training, technology transfer, technical outreach; and
  • technical assistance which would benefit organizations, communities, and individuals involved with hazardous substances management.
Each existing HSRC encompasses two adjoining Federal regions established according to a predetermined regional pairing plan designed to provide equitable distribution of technical resources nationally so as to better address hazardous substance problems being experienced in each region.  The pairings are based on contiguity and, to the extent possible, on similarities of regional profiles and technical issues.  The existing HSRCs are located as follows:  (1) Northeast Center (includes EPA Regions 1 and 2); (2) Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic Center (includes EPA Regions 3 and 5); (3) South and Southwest Center (includes EPA Regions 4 and 6); (4) Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Center (includes EPA Regions 7 and 8); and (5) Western Center (includes EPA Regions 9 and 10).  Funding for these Centers has been completed.

The new Centers to be established under this solicitation will address the same broad objectives as the current HSRCs.  However, the focus areas and relative emphasis on technology transfer, training, and outreach have changed.  Futhermore, the specific geographic coverage of the new Centers has not been predetermined.  Each applicant must propose a program for its Center which makes sense in terms of its problem orientation and specific geographic focus.  The objective of the competition is to create Centers through which funds would be distributed equitably among the regions of the United States.

Over the past five years, a number of research plans and strategies have contributed to the identification of priority research and assistance needs for hazardous substance problems.  The most important was produced by the President’s National Science and Technology Council through its Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources (CENR).  This group published A National R&D Strategy for Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Solid Waste.  This publication was the first consensus Federal “framework” for research on hazardous substances.  The CENR strategy adopted “risk” as its organizing theme.  The three primary areas of research emphasis were (1) risk management, (2) risk assessment, and (3) training, technical assistance, technology transfer, and outreach.  Each of these primary areas is further divided into specific research focus areas.

To develop an optimal research portfolio, EPA developed its perspective on waste research priorities by evaluating the CENR document and other information.  In this Request for Applications (RFA), the Agency is soliciting proposals to develop research Centers which will construct well defined, integrated programs to address hazardous substance research needs in areas of risk management and risk assessment, as well as outreach programs to transfer research results to the public.

A successful application will recognize that hazardous substance research priorities evolve as new data are generated and will include a detailed description of the process by which the Center will set priorities and phase in new activities.  An institution submitting a proposal should recommend scientific research priorities significant for the region in which it is located.  Centers may be funded for up to five years; applicants should clearly show how the program might evolve during that time.

DEFINITION OF A “HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE”

For purposes of this solicitation, "hazardous substances” is defined according to Section l01(14) of Superfund, as amended by SARA.  This definition, quoted from the law, combines specific provisions of several Federal environmental protection statutes and is specific to the description of the hazardous substance research centers:

The term "hazardous substance" means (A) any substance designated pursuant to section 1321(b)(2)(A) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, (B) any element, compound, mixture, solution, or substance designated pursuant to section 9602 of [Superfund], (C) any hazardous waste having the characteristics identified under or listed pursuant to section 3001 of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (but not including any waste the regulation of which under the Solid Waste Disposal Act has been suspended by Act of Congress), (D) any toxic pollutant listed under section 1317(a) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, (F) any hazardous air pollutant listed under section 112 of the Clean Air Act, and (F) any imminently hazardous chemical substance or mixture with respect to which the Administrator has taken action pursuant to section 2606 of the Toxic Substances Control Act.  The term does not include petroleum, including crude oil or any fraction thereof which is not otherwise specifically listed or designated as a hazardous substance under subparagraph (A) through (F) of this paragraph, and the term does not include natural gas, natural gas liquids, liquefied natural gas, or synthetic gas usable for fuel (or mixtures of natural gas and such synthetic gas).

CENTER PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

To achieve the goal of advancing the next generation of research, training, technology transfer, and technical assistance on hazardous substance problems, the HSRCs must include, at a minimum, the program objectives defined below:

  • Promote organizational connections and linkages within and between campuses; schools; communities; state, local and Federal agencies; national laboratories; industry; and international organizations so research collaboration, information sharing and transfer, training, and resource sharing can be enhanced.
  • Ensure that outreach to industry, communities, and states is provided through interdisciplinary research programs, technology transfer, and training efforts.
  • Facilitate the use of innovative means to transfer scientific knowledge among academia, industry, national laboratories, and state, local, and Federal governments.
  • Support frontier investigations at the interfaces of disciplines, and/or fresh approaches within disciplines.
  • Exploit opportunities in science, engineering, and technology where the complexity of the research needs requires the advantages of scope, scale, duration, equipment, and facilities, that a Center can provide.
  • Capitalize on diversity through participation in Center activities and demonstrate leadership in the involvement of groups under-represented in science and engineering.
FOCUS AREAS FOR HSRCs

Described below is a brief overview of the priorities for HSRC research that have been identified in consultation with EPA program office and regional staffs, and which HSRC applicants should consider in the formulation of their programs.  Applicants are encouraged to consult the CENR report referred to above for additional elaboration of the highest priority needs.  These topics are suggested only; it is expected that the HSRCs will identify specific projects particularly relevant for their own geographical problem area.

Contaminated Sites-Ground Water and/or Soils

The National Research Council (NRC) has estimated that 300,000 to 400,000 sites have contaminated ground water or soils from underground storage tanks (UST) and about 80 percent of the Superfund National Priority List (NPL) sites have contaminated groundwater.  The subsurface is also the most complex and costly medium to characterize, model, assess, and remediate, and there are still numerous scientific issues associated with contamination of this medium.  In order to reduce the uncertainty associated with the scientific issues of concern in risk management and assessment, approaches to the following problem areas should be considered:

  • The potential for using naturally occurring biotic and abiotic degradation processes as a means of achieving cleanup objectives in contaminated media, including natural attenuation.
  • New or improved techniques for removing or treating non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs).
  • Improved or innovative analytical techniques for locating NAPL contamination in the subsurface environment.
  • Methods and/or procedures to characterize fractured rock and other heterogeneous environments in order to design remedial actions, including  modifications of remedial technologies to make them suitable for use in fractured rock hydrogeologic areas.
  • Media to be used in subsurface reaction walls to better understand the processes involved in contaminant breakdown.  What materials can be used to reliably reduce ground water contamination levels?
Contaminated Sediments

Many persistent chemical contaminants in aquatic ecosystems eventually accumulate in sediments where they may adversely affect the benthic biota, become a source of contamination in the water column, accumulate in biological tissues, and enter pelagic and human food chains.   Contaminated sediments now appear to be the main source of toxic chemicals in many bays, lakes, and rivers.  Because of their potential adverse impacts, the long periods of time associated with natural assimilation of many in-place contaminants, and the high costs of mitigation, sediments have become a focus of concern.  Approaches in the following areas are needed:

  • Economical, in-situ, innovative treatment options for sites with large volumes of contaminated sediments.
  • Field analytical techniques or instrumentation which will permit in-situ monitoring of contaminant movement within the water column or provide better methods of identifying sediment “hot spots.”
  • The fate and bioavailability of toxic substances in sediments, and the fate of toxic substances during resuspension, especially during severe events.
  • The biological, chemical, and physical factors controlling resuspension of sediments; the spatial and temporal extent of sediment contamination.
  • Characterization and modeling of the transfer of toxic substances from their source to sediments, from sediments to organisms, and organism to organism.
Mining Wastes

Most of the metals manufacturing industries begin with the extraction of metals from ores during mining operations.  Lead, zinc, copper, and aluminum are the metals obtained from the largest volume mining operations.  Their extraction creates hazardous substance problems worldwide.  The major pollutant associated with the mining operation is acidic mine water.  In addition, ores frequently contain large percentages of antimony, arsenic, cadmium, and other toxic elements.  As a result, many mining sites have been placed on the NPL for cleanup under the superfund legislation.  The following specific approaches are needed:

  • Inexpensive methods to characterize metal migration from mining sites.
  • Characterization of the bioavailability of mine wastes and metals to support risk assessments.
  • Technologies to treat acidic mine drainage wastes in a cost effective manner.
  • Improved or new methods or technologies to remediate mine wastes.
Ecological Impacts and Restoration

Many industrial facilities, either through the effects of their operation (such as mining) or through the chemical contaminants they discharge or emit, may have deleterious effects on terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems.  Assessment of the exposure and ecological condition of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems is needed so that more informed site clean-up decisions can be made.  Specific needs include:

  • Characterization of biogeochemical partitioning between sediments, water, and biota.
  • Fish and benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages as indicators of stream condition.
  • Development of site-specific indicators of adverse ecological impacts.
  • Models for transport, biotransformation, and bioaccumulation of mercury in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
  • Processes or models that will evaluate if the observed or predicted adverse effects of pollutants on an ecosystem component are of sufficient type, magnitude, or areal extent and duration that the effects that have occurred or are likely to occur are irreversible.
  • Models that evaluate the benefits of remedial actions versus habitat destruction.
  • Understanding of the bioavailability and toxicokinetics of contaminants to wildlife, plants, and invertebrates to support risk assessments of terrestrial ecosystems and to determine appropriate cleanup goals for soil remediation projects.
TRAINING, TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE (OUTREACH) FOCUS AREAS

Technology transfer activities, training courses, and other outreach efforts must be conducted by the HSRCs to encourage the application, demonstration, and dissemination of research results.  Each Center should maintain such programs for the benefit of a broad base of  academia, industry, communities, and government.  Tech transfer, training, and technical assistance as defined by this solicitation include, but are not limited to:  seminars; workshops; field demonstrations; handbooks and user manuals; newsletters; programs to assist in the development and commercialization of research technologies to better manage hazardous substances; the use of innovative multimedia tools such as Web-based educational modules; Web-casting and digital composition, animation, and special effects.

There is a need for the Centers to help communities better understand the technical issues and choices associated with contaminated sites.  By doing so, communities can more fully participate in solving their environmental problems.  This outreach effort should be designed to provide independent and credible technical assistance to communities affected by hazardous waste problems and to provide technical background for community members who become active in cleanup and environmental development activities.  There are a variety of community services that can be provided, including:

  • reviewing and interpreting technical documents and other materials using the resources of university faculty and staff;
  • offering workshops, short courses, and other learning experiences to explain basic science and environmental policy issues;
  • creating technical assistance materials such as visual software and manuals detailing site investigation procedures, and
  • offering training on technical issues to community leaders to facilitate their interactions with various stakeholders.
The Centers should also develop the capacity to be of assistance to local communities in clean-up of properties that have been damaged or devalued by environmental contamination.  The target audiences for such efforts might include community groups, municipal officials, developers, and leaders of lending institutions.  The activities of this effort might include:
  • assisting local municipalities by recommending cost effective cleanup solutions that are integrated with land-use decisions;
  • assisting in site assessment/data interpretation that can help community leaders and local government environmental professionals develop a better understanding of site assessment principles;
  • providing local government planners, developers, and community members with risk assessment training sessions; and
  • providing stakeholders with technical information about the redevelopment process after clean-up of hazardous wastes, tailoring subject matter to local requirements and interests.
Information on two outreach programs which have been supported by HSRCs in the past, the Technical Outreach Services for Communities (TOSC) Program and the Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities (TAB) Program, is found in the Appendix to this solicitation.

CENTER ADMINISTRATION FEATURES

Each HSRC should have a unifying focus involving area(s) of research and outreach needs identified in this solicitation or developed in response to the unique needs of its region.  HSRCs can vary in size and exhibit diverse forms of organization, participation, and operation.  No single type of Center fits the needs of every scientific discipline.  Rather, the size, structure and operation of each HSRC should be determined by the proposed research, education, knowledge transfer, and resource capabilities.  While each Center will be unique in some aspects, each must:

  • be based in an academic institution;
  • demonstrate a commitment to partnering, cooperative funding,  and self-sufficiency;
  • demonstrate a commitment to achieving strategic goals shared by the EPA and partner institutions as demonstrated by cost sharing and other institutional commitments;
  • have significant intellectual exchange and resource linkages among various types of institutions (e.g., academic, minority-serving institutions, nonprofit organizations, national laboratories, industry, Federal, state, and local governments) to facilitate technology transfer and training.
LONG-TERM SELF-SUFFICIENCY

EPA expects the HSRCs to become self-sustaining beyond the end of their term of EPA support.  By that time, they will have developed an effective and productive collaboration with others who are deriving a range of benefits from these partnerships.  EPA expects the HSRCs to develop a plan for becoming self-sufficient.  This plan should indicate year-by-year resource needs based on achieving full self-sufficiency by the end of the five-year term.

CENTER LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT

A HSRC requires a Director who will develop and lead a team to fulfill a shared vision.  The Director should be supported in that role by a management team comprised of, at a minimum, an Assistant Director for Technical Transfer, Training and Outreach who will oversee the integration of center research with application and educational opportunities.  Additional staff support may be necessary.  Other Center personnel will include principal investigators on all research projects and outreach activities supported by HSRC funds and training staff, who design, develop, and/or administer the HSRC’s training program.

The Center Director is responsible for overall management, staffing, and budgeting for the Center.  The Director will provide intellectual leadership, technical vision and operational guidance for the Center.  The Director should be a full-time member of the faculty or administrative staff of the designated lead institution of the HSRC, in the event that it is a consortium arrangement.

The Assistant Director is responsible for coordinating the efforts of the Center with those of other institutions engaged in similar pursuits.  The Assistant Director should be a full-time member of the faculty at the designated lead institution or a faculty member at a consortium university.

HSRC REGIONAL RESPONSIBILITY

Each Center will be responsible for a program relevant to the region in which it is located, selected to provide a balanced distribution of resources over the United States, and to address the hazardous substance problems experienced in various sections of the country.  To the extent possible, EPA desires the total set of the HSRCs to encompass the entire country within their total programmatic purview.

ADMINISTRATIVE AND OPERATING REQUIREMENTS

Funds Available: A total of $5 million is available for funding up to five Centers.  It is expected that applications will range from $800,000 to $1.2 million per year total costs.  Awards depend on the availability of FY 2001 funds.  Hence, awards will be made for  start dates after October 1, 2000.  The total available funds will be split in two parts: 70 percent for research, and 30 percent for other Center activities, including training, technology transfer, technical assistance, and outreach activities.

Lead Institution:  HSRCs may be either single institutions or consortia.  (See "Eligibility Requirements" below for additional information on consortium arrangements.)  If a consortium arrangement is proposed, a lead institution must be identified.  The lead institution must be a university, and the Center Director must be at that institution.  The lead institution should plan to link with appropriate communities and institutions beyond the sponsoring institution - other colleges, universities, non-profit research organizations, government laboratories, industry, state, local, and/or international entities - to enhance involvement and knowledge transfer.

Research Planning:  At least once per year, the Center Director will solicit technical proposals for research within all of the institutions of the HSRC, indicating subject areas of interest. Proposals will be evaluated by a science advisory committee (see section titled "Science Advisory Committee" below) for technical quality and relevance to the HSRC's research plan.  The Center Director will select proposals for funding based on the recommendations of the science advisory committee and the availability of research funds.

Training, Technology Transfer, and Technical Assistance:  Training and technology transfer activities must be conducted by the HSRCs. Training as used here does not include work leading to a baccalaureate or advanced degree.  Training, technology transfer, and technical assistance (outreach) as defined in this solicitation include, but are not limited to: seminars, workshops, demonstrations, handbooks, user manuals, bibliographies, data bases, newsletters, professional exchange programs, information clearinghouses, or non-academic courses of a length less than one academic term.  Courses should be directed toward State and local regulators, manufacturers, disposers, other handlers of hazardous substances, or the public at large.

Committees:  To ensure that the Center continues to fulfill its mission in ensuing years, the following bodies must be established upon initiation of a Center and maintained throughout the life of the Center:

 Science Advisory Committee:  This committee is chaired by the Center Director, who is also responsible for selecting members, within certain limitations established by this announcement.  The membership of this committee will consist of 9-12 technical peers drawn from the public and private sectors and academia.  Up to one-third of the membership may consist of appropriate personnel from EPA’s Regional Offices and Laboratories.  At least one-third of the membership must be drawn from the academic community.  The remaining members may come from industry or other Federal, State, or local governmental units.  Appointments to this committee are subject to approval by the EPA project officer.  Duties include reviewing the HSRC's research plan, annual development of a list of relevant research topics, preparing recommendations regarding the relevance and technical merit of project proposals, and reviewing ongoing projects.  Meetings will be held twice a year.  Members must be chosen from outside the institutions comprising the HSRC.

 Training and Technology Advisory Committee:  This committee is chaired by the Center Director.  Membership should include representatives from relevant EPA Regional Offices, EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, and States or localities.  Others may be added by the Center Director with approval by the EPA project officer.  Duties include annual meetings to recommend outreach activity plans for the next year, review progress, and recommend changes to current year programs.

Annual Meeting of Center Directors: Center Directors will be required to budget for and attend an initial meeting and subsequent annual meetings in the Washington, DC, area with the EPA project officer and other EPA personnel to review progress, coordination, and future directions.

Annual Report:  Not more than 30 days after the end of each fiscal year, the Center Director must submit an annual report to the project officer in a format to be specified by the project officer.  This report will include accomplishments for the fiscal year immediately ending, plans for the next fiscal year, and listings of publications, courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, and other measurable outputs.

Regional Office Contact:  Each EPA Regional Office within the Center’s geographic area will assign a contact person to advise the EPA project officer and the Center on its problems and issues.  The Center may collaborate with regional personnel in a manner to be decided by the Project Officer.

ELIGIBILITY

Academic institutions located in the U.S. with research and training programs in areas relating to hazardous substances are eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program.  Proposals involving consortia - limited to universities and two and four year colleges - are encouraged.  However, a single institution in the consortium, designated as the lead institution, must accept overall management responsibilities for the Center.  The lead institution must be a university.  In accordance with requirements established in Section 3 11(d) of SARA, the institution (the lead institution in the case of a consortium) must meet the following additional requirements in order to be eligible for HSRC status:

Section 311(d)(4)(A):  "The Hazardous Substance Research Center shall be located in a State which is representative of the needs of the region in which such State is located for improved hazardous waste management,"

Section 311(d)(4)(B):  "The grant recipient shall be located in an area which has experienced problems with hazardous substance management."

For purposes of this solicitation, “region” is defined as the multi-state area in which the Center is to be located, the extent of which is dictated by the proposed programmatic focus of the Center.  A university may be listed on more than one application in the case of proposed Centers involving consortial arrangements.  EPA reserves the right to negotiate adjustments in geographic coverage to meet the intent of the statutory requirement of equitable distribution of resources among regions of the United States.

Profit-making firms, not-for-profit institutions, state or local governments, national laboratories funded by Federal agencies (FFRDCs), and Federal agencies are not eligible to submit applications to this program.

Employees of profit-making firms, not-for-profit institutions, state or local governments, national laboratories funded by Federal agencies (FFRDCs), and Federal agencies may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations.  They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the Center.   The Center may provide funds through its grant from EPA to a FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research.  However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.

Federal employees may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program.  However, Federal employees may interact with Center investigators so long as their involvement is not essential to achieving the basic goals of the grant.  The Center may also subcontract to a Federal agency to purchase unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector.  Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses or instrumentation not available elsewhere, etc.  A written justification for federal involvement by subcontract must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal Agency involved which commits it to supply the specified service.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Dr. Robert E. Menzer in NCER, phone (202) 564-6849, EMail:  menzer.robert@epa.gov.

STANDARD INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION

This section contains instructions on how applicants should apply for an NCER HSRC grant.

Sorting Codes

In order to facilitate proper assignment and review of applications, each applicant is asked to identify the topic area in which their application is to be considered. At various places within the application, applicants will be asked to identify this topic area by using the Sorting Code: 2000-STAR-A1.

The Sorting Code must be placed at the top of the abstract (as shown in the abstract format), in Box 10 of Standard Form 424 (as described in the section on SF424), and should also be included in the address on the package that is sent to EPA (see the section on How to Apply).

The Application

The initial application is made through the submission of the materials described below.  It is essential that the application contain all the information requested and be submitted in the formats described.  Do not append additional material to the proposal, as it will not be considered and will not be forwarded to reviewers.  Requests to add or correct material to a submitted proposal will not be considered, unless the additional material is requested by EPA.  If an application is considered for award, (i.e., after external peer review and internal review) additional forms and other information will be requested by the Project Officer.  The original, signed copy of the application should not be bound or stapled in any way.  Other copies may be stapled or clipped together.  The Application contains the following:

A. Standard Form 424:  The applicant must complete Standard Form 424 (see attached form and instructions).  This form will act as a cover sheet for the application and should be its first page.  Instructions for completion of the SF424 are included with the form. The form must contain the original signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution.  Please note that both the Principal Investigator and an administrative contact should be identified in Section 5 of the SF424.

B. Key Contacts:  The applicant must complete the Key Contacts Form (attached) as the second page of the submitted application.

C. Abstract: The abstract is a very important document.  It is critical that the abstract accurately describe the research being proposed and convey all the essential elements of the research.  Also, in the event of an award, the abstracts will form the basis for an Annual Report of awards made under this program.  The abstract, limited to one page, should include the following information, as indicated in the example format provided:

 1. Research Category and Sorting Code:  Enter the full name of the solicitation to which your application is submitted and use the correct code: 2000-STAR-A1.

 2. Title:  Use the title of the Center which reflects the Region Pair in which it is located.

 3. Investigators:  Start with the Principal Investigator. Also list the names and affiliations of each major co-investigator who will significantly contribute to the Center.

 4. Institution:  List the name and city/state of each participating university or other applicant institution, in the same order as the list of investigators.

 5. Project Period:  Provide the proposed project dates.

 6. Project Cost:  Provide the total request to EPA for the entire project period.

 7. Project Summary:  This should summarize: (a) the objectives of the Center, (b ) the approach to be used (which should give an accurate description of the projects and activities described in the proposal), (c) the expected results of the projects and how they address the research, technology transfer, training, and outreach needs identified in the solicitation, including the estimated improvement in risk assessment or risk management that will result from successful completion of the work proposed.

 8. Supplemental Keywords:  A list of suggested keywords is provided for your use. Do not duplicate terms already used in the text of the abstract.

D. Technical Proposal:  This proposal must not exceed twenty-five (25) consecutively numbered (center bottom), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.  Each proposal must include the following items:

  1.  Hazardous substance problems in the region
  2.  Research plan/project descriptions
  3.  Training and technology transfer plan
  4.  Long-term self-sufficiency plan
  5.  Coordination plan

1.  Discussion of Hazardous Substance Problems in the Region.  The proposal must include a summary of the major hazardous substance problems experienced within the region of its programmatic focus and discuss the magnitude of the problems wherever possible.  To the extent possible specify individual chemical problems of concern that the Center would focus on.  When the proposal specifies a hazardous substance by chemical or physical class, that substance must be consistent with the definition of hazardous substances as provided earlier in this solicitation.  (About 5 pages.)

2.  Research Plan/Project Descriptions.   To provide a context for future research, a discussion of the general approach to the Center’s research program should be included.  Based on the discussion of regional problems, the proposal must present an overall plan for the conduct of this research, briefly indicating the technical issues and research approach.  The research plan must cover the five-year period, but emphasize the specific projects that would be initiated in the first year, the way this work would be conducted, and the expected results of the first year's work.  It is understood that since the operation of Centers would continually bring in new (and currently unknown) proposals, significant uncertainties are necessarily contained in the initial research plan.  This section must also address the Center's plan for disseminating results.  (About 12-15 pages.)

Each of the initial specific research projects should be completely described according to the instructions in NCERQA’s Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application, which will be found on the NCER Web site at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/standinstr.html.  An additional 15 pages is permitted for each of these individual project descriptions.

3.  Technology Transfer, Training, and Outreach Plans.  Plans must be presented for the development and dissemination of training courses and technology transfer to be conducted by the HSRC, emphasizing specific activities to be conducted during at least the first year of operation.  To the extent possible, this plan should specify the activity (training course, workshop, handbooks, etc.).  For each activity, include subject matter, target audience, recruitment procedures, instructors, and other information of use in evaluating the quality of the training and technology transfer plans.  Refer to the definition of training and technology transfer in the "Administrative and Operating Requirements" section above.  (About 5-8 pages.)

Each of the initial outreach activities should be completely described according to the instructions in NCER's Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application, which will be found on the NCER Web site.  An additional 15 pages is permitted for each of these individual activity descriptions.  Do not append copies of proposed course material, syllabuses, etc. Tie the prescribed training and technology transfer activities as closely as possible to the description of the needs of the region.

4.  Long-Term Self-Sufficiency Plan.  EPA expects the HSRCs to become self-sustaining beyond the end of EPA funding.  A business plan must be prepared that describes how the HSRC will decrease its dependence on EPA funding to become self-sufficient after five years.  This plan should, at a minimum, define goals, objectives, and strategies for achieving self-sufficiency consistent with regional needs; identify and analyze distinct groups of potential supporters; and identify specific products, services, or intellectual property the HSRC can market.

5.  Coordination Plan.  The proposal must include a plan for coordinating the activities of the Center with those of organizations engaged in similar or related pursuits, other HSRCs, for example.  This plan must strive to make connections with other efforts in the hazardous waste field in this country and around the world.  The purpose is fourfold:  to strengthen the capacity of the HSRC to fulfill its goals, to provide an opportunity for others to benefit from involvement in the HSRC, to enhance the capacity of the HSRC to involve a new generation in engineering and science, and to build linkages to other significant efforts already underway.  The HSRC is free to explore as broad a range of connections as necessary.

The following sections are in addition to the 25-page Technical Proposal and the individual project and activity descriptions.

E. Resumes:  The resumes of all principal investigators and key co-workers should be presented. Each resume must not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

F. Current and Pending Support: The applicant must identify any current and pending financial resources that are intended to support research related to that included in the proposal or which would consume the time of principal investigators. This should be done by completing the appropriate form (see attachment) for each investigator and other senior personnel involved in the proposal. Failure to provide this information may delay consideration of your proposal.

G. Facilities and Equipment: The proposal must identify the facilities and equipment which will be available to the Center and, to the extent possible, the ways in which these items will be used.

 H. Quality Assurance Statement: For any project involving data collection or processing, conducting surveys, environmental measurements, and/or modeling, or the development of environmental technology (whether hardware-based or via new techniques) for pollution control and waste treatment, provide a statement on how quality processes or products will be assured.  For awards that involve environmentally related measurements or data generation, a quality system that complies with the requirements of ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs," must be in place.  The Quality Assurance Statement should not exceed two consecutively numbered, 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins. This is in addition to the 15 pages permitted for the Project Description. This Statement should, for each item listed below, present the required information, reference the relevant portion of the project description containing the information, or provide a justification as to why the item does not apply to the proposed research.

 1. Discuss the activities to be performed or hypothesis to be tested and criteria for determining acceptable data quality.  (Note: Such criteria may be expressed in terms of precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, comparability. These criteria must also be applied to determine the acceptability of existing or secondary data to be used in the project.)

 2. Describe the study design, including sample type and location requirements, any statistical analyses that were used to estimate the types and numbers of samples required for physical samples, or equivalent information for studies using survey and interview techniques.

 3. Describe the procedures for the handling and custody of samples, including sample collection, identification, preservation, transportation, and storage.

 4. Describe the procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the sampling and analytical methods and equipment to be used during the project.

 5. Discuss the procedures for data reduction and reporting, including a description of statistical analyses to be used and of any computer models to be designed or utilized with associated verification and validation techniques.

 6. Describe the quantitative and/or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project, including any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods prior to data collection.

ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs" is available for purchase from the American Society for Quality Control, phone 1-800-248-1946, item T55. Only in exceptional circumstances should it be necessary to consult this document. There are EPA requirements documents (R-series) and guidance documents (G-series) available for potential applicants which address in detail how to comply with ANSI/ASQC E4. These may be found on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/quality1/qa_docs.html. Two EPA documents, R-5, "EPA Requirements for Quality Assurance Project Plans," and G-4, "Guidance for the Data Quality Objectives Process," are particularly pertinent to this RFA's QA requirements.

I. Budget:  Section 311(d) of Superfund requires that certain conditions must be met for an institution to qualify for funds under the HSRC program.  We draw your attention particularly to the following:

Section 3l1(d)(4)(E):  "The grant recipient shall make a commitment to support ongoing hazardous substance research programs with budgeted institutional funds of at least $100,000 per year."

Section 311(d)(6): "Federal share.  The Federal share of a grant under this subsection shall not exceed 80 percent of the costs of establishing and operating the regional hazardous substance research center and related research activities carried out by the grant recipient.”

Thus, for a single applicant or a consortium arrangement, the total commitment from all institutions in the consortium must equal or exceed 20 percent of the grant or at least $100,000 per year, whichever is greater.  The proposal must explain how this requirement will be met.

The applicant must present a five-year overall budget and a detailed budget for the first year.  This budget must be presented using the format provided in Tables 1-3 (appended), according to the following instructions:

Table 1: The purpose of this table is to summarize the entire budget for the first year of operation of the HSRC.

  • "EPA Funds to Center Participants" includes the summarization of estimated first year direct costs of each research project, outreach activity, and management item detailed in the individual Table 2 submissions for each project, activity, and item.  Enter in this column first-year direct costs estimates for all projects, activities, and items within the institutions that comprise the Center.
  • "EPA Funds Outside the Center" refers to direct cost funds allocated from the Center via agreements with other research or training institutions outside of the HSRC institutions to conduct all or part of the HSRC's projects, activities, or other items.
  •  "Project 1, Project 2 ... Project n" refers to the individual research projects proposed for the first year of the Center.  Identify these individually by project title.  Include here separately total direct costs associated with projects conducted both within and outside the HSRC.
  • "Activity 1, Activity 2 ... Activity n" refers to the total direct costs of individual outreach activities proposed for the first year conducted both by entities within and outside of the Center.
  •  "Item 1, Item 2 ... Item n" refers to the total direct costs of individual components of the administration of the HSRC.  Item 1 should reflect the administrative operations of the Director's Office.  Other items might include, for example, the operation of a core analytical facility or other research or outreach support operations.
  • "Indirect Costs" means the total of overhead payments made to all institutions of the HSRC associated with research projects, outreach activities, and management items.  It is not necessary in this table to itemize indirect costs by project, activity, and item.
  •  "Cost Share" means the total of the institutional cost shares associated with the research projects, outreach activities, and management items, as detailed on the individual Table 2 budgets.  Cost share may be accumulated from any funds other than those derived from Federal government
Table 2: There must be a table 2 prepared for each individual project, activity, and item that will be funded by the HSRC in the first year of its operation.
  • “Time Commitment” means either the percent time or the number of hours per week to be applied toward the work of project, activity, or item by all personnel associated with it.
  •  “Salary Cost” is the total salary for each individual for the time that is committed to the project, activity, or item.
  • “Fringe Benefits” is the total fringe benefit cost associated with the salary for each individual.
  •  “Direct Cost” is the amount of the total salary and fringe benefits for the individuals listed in each line that will be provided from EPA grant funds.
  •  “Institutional Cost Share” is the amount of the total salary and fringe benefits that will be contributed by the institution.
  • “Travel,” “Equipment,” and “Supplies” are conventionally defined for costs associated with this project, activity, or item.
  •  “Contracts” means any sub-agreement associated with this project, activity, or item.  If the amount for a contract exceeds $25,000, a separate Table 2 must be submitted for the contract.
  • “Other” is for any costs which will be incurred for the project, activity, or item that do not fit into one of the categories above.
The summation items at the bottom of the table are self-explanatory.  The amounts in item g under direct cost for all projects, activities, and items are the figures that should be summed and transferred to the proper places in Table 1.  The sum of item h for all Table 2 submissions should be entered in the indirect cost boxes in Table 1, and the sum of item i under Institutional Cost Share for all Table 2 submissions should be entered in the Cost Share boxes in Table 1.

Table 3: This table provides summary information for the Center’s operations in years 2 through 5.

  • “Research, Outreach, and Management” are defined the same as for Table 1.
  •  “On-going projects,” On-going activities,” and “On-going items” are the sums of the costs for continuation of those projects, activities, and items begun in the first year of the Center for which Table 2 submissions were submitted.  It is not necessary to provide details of costs for each project, activity, or item at this time.  On-going oversight of the Center will require that level of detail later.
  •  “New projects,” New activities,” and “New items” refer to plans for starting new projects, activities, and items during the out-years of the Center’s life.  Only cost estimates are required at this time; detailed plans will be developed in cooperation with the Science Advisory Committee and the EPA Project Officer during each year of the Center’s operations.
J.  Budget Justification: For each Table 2 submission briefly describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support and other costs identified in the itemized budgets and explain the basis for their calculation (special attention should be given to explaining the travel, equipment, and other categories).  This should also include an explanation of how the indirect costs and cost share were calculated.

Explanations and justification for any unusual aspects of the Table 1 and Table 3 budgets should be briefly explained.  An explanation of the EPA funds reduction schedule and plans for HSRC self-sufficiency should be provided in connection with the budget presentation in Tables 1-3.

K. Postcard:  The Applicant must include with the application a self-addressed, stamped 3x5-inch post card.  This will be used to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information to the applicant.

How to Apply

The original and ten (10) copies of the fully developed application and one (1) additional copy of the abstract (11 in all), must be received by NCER no later than 4:00 P.M. EST on the closing date: March 14, 2000.

The application and abstract must be prepared in accordance with these instructions. Informal, incomplete, or unsigned proposals will not be considered. The application should not be bound or stapled in any way. The original and copies of the application should be secured with paper or binder clips.

Completed applications should be sent via regular mail to:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8703R)
Sorting Code: 2000-STAR-A1
401 M Street, SW
Washington DC 20460

For express mail-delivered applications, the following address must be used:

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8703R)
Sorting Code: 2000-STAR-A1
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Room B-10105
Washington, DC 20004

Phone: (202) 564-6939 (for express mail applications)

The sorting code must be identified in the address (as shown above).

Courier- or personally-delivered applications must be brought to the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004.  The courier must come to the EPA Visitors Lobby (see map), tell the security guard that he/she has a delivery for the EPA mail room.  The courier will be required to sign a visitor’s log, and will be directed to the EPA mail room.  The mail room is open 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. weekdays, exclusive of Federal holidays.  If the applicant requires a receipt for the delivery, you will need to provide a form which the mail room personnel will sign.
 


Review and Selection

All applications are reviewed by an appropriate technical peer review panel.  This review is designed to evaluate each application according to its scientific, administrative merit.  In general, each review group is composed of non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and economists who are experts in their respective disciplines and are proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing.
The application will be evaluated in the following areas for technical merit: (1) the individual research project and outreach activity plans, and (2) the overall Center administrative structure and the management plan for research and outreach.

Reviewers use the following criteria to guide their reviews of individual projects and activities:

 1. The originality and creativity of the proposed research project or outreach activity, the appropriateness and adequacy of the methods proposed, and the appropriateness and adequacy of the Quality Assurance Statement.  Is the approach practical and technically defensible, and can the project or activity be performed within the proposed time period?  Will the project or activity contribute to knowledge in the topic areas of this solicitation?  Is the proposal well-prepared with supportive information that is self-explanatory and understandable?

 2. The responsiveness of the application to the research and outreach needs identified in the solicitation.  Does the application adequately address the objectives specified for this topic?

 3. The qualifications of the Center Director, principal investigators, and other key personnel, including background and training for the project or activity in which they are to be involved, demonstrated knowledge of pertinent literature, experience, and publication records.  Will all key personnel commit significant time to the project or activity?

 4. The availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment proposed for the project or activity.  Are there any deficiencies that may interfere with the successful completion of the project or activity?

 5. Although budget information is not used by the reviewers as the basis for their evaluation of scientific and technical merit, the reviewers are asked to provide their views on the appropriateness and adequacy of the proposed budget and its implications for the potential success of the proposed projects and activities, including the specific amount of the matching funds and the reliability of the sources of these resources.  Input on requested equipment is of particular interest.

Applying the above listed criteria, the application will also be evaluated by the peer review panel on the basis of the overall plan for the Center, its multidisciplinary scope, degree of interrelationships of research projects and outreach activities, collaboration, coordination and interdependence of individual projects and activities, and their capacity to contribute to the overall goals of the Center.  Particularly important elements of the overall plan are the adequacy of arrangements for external review and the adequacy, completeness, and implementability of the Center’s long-term self-sufficiency plan.

Applications that receive scores of excellent and very good from the peer reviewers are subjected to a programmatic review within EPA, the object being to assure a balanced research portfolio.  Scientists from the ORD Laboratories and EPA Program and Regional Offices review these applications in relation to program priorities and their complementarity to the ORD intramural program and recommend selections to NCER.

Funding decisions are the sole responsibility of EPA.  Grants or cooperative agreements are selected on the basis of technical merit, relevancy to the research priorities outlined, program balance, and budget.  A summary statement of the review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant.

Applications selected for funding will require additional certifications, possibly a revised budget, and responses to any comments or suggestions offered by the peer reviewers.  Project Officers will contact Center Directors to obtain these materials.

Proprietary Information

By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants EPA permission to share the application with technical reviewers both within and outside of the Agency. Applications containing proprietary or other types of confidential information will be returned to the applicant without review.

Funding Mechanism

The funding mechanism for all awards issued under this solicitation will consist of one or two grants and/or cooperative agreements from EPA and depends on the availability of funds.  In accordance with Public Law 95-224, the primary purpose of a grant or cooperative agreement is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute rather than acquisition for the direct benefit of the Agency.  Two funding actions may be negotiated with the applicant, one for research and one for outreach activities.  In issuing a grant for the research, EPA anticipates that there will be no substantial EPA involvement in the design, implementation, or conduct of the research funded by the grant.  However, there may be substantial EPA involvement in the implementation of the outreach portion of the program, which will be funded with a cooperative agreement.  EPA will monitor the Center's progress, based in part on annual reports.

Contacts

Additional general information on the grants program, forms used for applications, etc., may be obtained by exploring this Web page at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/.  EPA does not intend to make mass-mailings of this announcement.  Information not available on the Internet may be obtained by contacting:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
National Center for Environmental Research and Quality Assurance (8703R)
401 M Street, SW
Washington DC  20460

Phone: 1-800-490-9194

In addition, contacts have been identified below who can respond to inquiries regarding the solicitation and can respond to any technical questions related to your application.

Alfred A. Galli    202-564-6887
 galli.alfred@epa.gov

Thomas Veirs   202-564-6831
veirs.thomas@epa.gov

APPENDIX

The existing Technical Outreach Services for Communities (TOSC) Program is a collaborative effort between the HSRCs and the Superfund Community Involvement and Outreach Center (CIOC) to provide free-of-charge, non-advocacy technical assistance to communities.  TOSC provides early, proactive technical assistance to communities faced with hazardous substance management issues that potentially threaten their health and/or immediate environment.  The mission of the TOSC Program is to assist communities to participate in the process of protecting and restoring their environment through innovative public outreach techniques.  The goals of the TOSC Program are to inform, educate, and empower communities affected by hazardous substance management issues and to advance both the technical content and process of outreach services for communities.

TOSC Services to Communities:

  • Creating technical assistance materials tailored to the identified needs of a community.
  • Informing community members about existing technical assistance materials, such as publications, videos, and Web sites.
  • Providing technical information to help community members become active participants in cleanup and environmental development activities.
  • Providing independent and credible technical assistance to communities affected by hazardous waste problems.
  • Reviewing and interpreting technical documents and other materials for affected communities.
  • Sponsoring workshops, short courses, and other learning experiences to explain basic science and environmental policy related to hazardous substances.
Activities of TOSC Staff:
  • Reviewing and assessing community's current technical assistance needs and resources before determining that TOSC assistance is appropriate.
  • Enlisting local universities and community colleges for technical assistance, especially in rural communities.
  • Effectively working with communities in translating complex, technical information into simple, plain English.
  • Providing technical assistance on any community issues that need to be addressed to ensure protection of human health and the environment.
  • Attending State and EPA-sponsored public meetings and availability sessions in communities where TOSC is performing services in order to provide technical information.
  • Advising on the development of communication strategies that will outline specific communication activities needed by a community.
The Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities (TAB) Program leverages the capabilities of the Centers' member universities to help communities facing brownfields problems accomplish the goals of the Brownfields Initiative.  Brownfields are abandoned, idled, or underused industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.  EPA's Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative strives to empower States, Tribes, municipal governments, local communities, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together in a timely manner to prevent, assess, safely clean-up, and sustainably reuse brownfields.

The Brownfields Initiative is an organized commitment to provide technical assistance to help communities revitalize such properties both environmentally and economically, mitigate potential health risks, and restore economic vitality to areas where brownfields exist.  This assistance benefits localities within existing Brownfields Assessment Demonstration Pilot and Showcase Communities as well as other communities who may not be designated as such but still face the myriad environmental, public health, and economic problems associated with brownfields.  TAB assistance is geared mainly toward community groups and municipal officials.  Developers, leaders with lending institutions, and related stakeholders may constitute a secondary audience.

The type(s) and amount of TAB training, technical assistance, and outreach provided to communities varied within each of EPA’s Regions but involved an average of four or five communities per year in each Region.  Activities have been tailored to the specific community needs and included the following:

Leadership Training. Leadership training for community leaders focuses on the technical side of clean-up activities, interaction with government agencies, environmental regulations, clean-up technologies, and risk assessment.

Risk Assessment. Risk assessment training is provided for local government planners, developers, and community members to help build knowledge of the basic mechanisms and protocols of risk assessment.  Topics include site inventory, characterization, end use, and environmental quality requirements as part of the measurement of risk.

Brownfields Processes. Training covering the technical aspects of the brownfield redevelopment process is provided to a variety of stakeholders.  Specific subject matter is tailored to local requirements and interests.

Site Assessment. Training on the assessment of hazardous waste sites helps community leaders and local government environmental professionals develop a better understanding of site assessment principles.  Sessions focus on integration of the assessment with land use decisions and provide information about the acceptable tools for data collection.

Clean-up Alternatives. Local government officials, developers, and environmental/planning professionals are provided with the technical information needed and taught how to make decisions on the use of appropriate technology for sustainable land use.

Remember....in addition to the required forms that you can get from the FORMS DOWNLOAD PAGE, you must complete the 3 tables below.  They can be found at the end of the MSWord File or you can download them as a PDF file (click).

Table 1.  Format for First-Year Budget

Table 2. Itemized Budget for Year 1 for Projects, Activities, and Items
(Prepare a separate table for each project, activity, and item listed in Table 1)

Table 3.  Format for Out-Year Budgets

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