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RCRA Cleanup Reform

National Information

Since 1984, the EPA and authorized states have made considerable progress in implementing the Corrective Action Program. Despite the progress made, states, environmental groups, and the regulated community have raised concerns, including:  slow progress in achieving cleanup or other environmental results; an emphasis on process and reports over actual work in the field; unrealistic, impractical or overly conservative cleanup goals; and lack of meaningful public participation. Because of these various reasons, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is implementing a set of administrative reforms, known as the RCRA Cleanup Reforms, to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)  Corrective Action Program.

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The Cleanup Reforms are designed to achieve faster, more efficient cleanups at RCRA sites that treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste and have potential environmental contamination. More information can be found on the RCRA Cleanup Reforms by clicking here.

Cleanup Baseline

EPA developed the RCRA Cleanup Baseline in conjunction with the states as a result of a mandate in the Government Performance & Results Act (GPRA) requiring EPA to measure and track program progress. While the ultimate goal of the RCRA Corrective Action Program is to achieve final cleanups, we are measuring the intermediate success of the program against our GPRA goals. As part of EPA's RCRA Cleanup Reforms Initiative, a Baseline of 1712 high priority RCRA facilities nationwide was published on July 8, 1999. There are 100 Baseline facilities located in the four states that make up EPA's Region 7.

Where are they?  Click here to see a map showing the locations of the 100 Baseline sites in Region 7.

The program is monitoring intermediate progress by tracking two Environmental Indicators (EIs), one to track human exposures to contamination and another to track the spread of contaminated groundwater. These EIs are the main focus of the corrective action GPRA goals. The indicators measure progress in environmental terms rather than the administrative process steps that were previously monitored. Measuring and recording our progress toward these goals will be a top priority for EPA and the States over the next several years. "Current Human Exposures Under Control" (CA725) and "Migration of Contaminated Groundwater Under Control" (CA750), are the two Corrective Action EIs used to measure program progress and are being used to meet the GPRA goals.

A "YE" status code determination for the Current Human Exposures Under Control EI (CA725) indicates that there are no "unacceptable" human exposures to "contamination" (i.e., contaminants in concentrations higher than appropriate risk-based levels) that can be reasonably expected under current land- and groundwater-use conditions. This determination is made for the entire facility (i.e., site-wide). Other possible EI codes for this determination are:  "IN" - insufficient information is available to make the determination, and "NO" - current human exposures are not under control.

A"YE" status code determination for the "Migration of Contaminated Groundwater Under Control" EI indicates that the migration of  "contaminated" groundwater has stabilized, and that groundwater monitoring will continue to confirm that the contaminated groundwater plume remains stabilized or decreases in size. This determination is also made for the entire facility  (i.e., site-wide). Other possible codes are:  "IN" - insufficient information is available to make the determination, and "NO" - unacceptable migration of contaminated groundwater is observed or expected.

The Corrective Action Program has set a goal of controlling human exposures at 95% of the Baseline facilities (CA725), and controlling migration of contaminated groundwater at 70% of the Baseline facilities (CA750) by the year 2005. These goals will provide a measurement of the progress of corrective action for all RCRA facilities.

Background

backhoe The Baseline was developed from the National RCRA Corrective Action Priorities Initiative and input from the states. This Initiative was undertaken in 1991, and initial rankings for most facilities were generated in 1991 through 1993. Most facilities were ranked based on information in a RCRA Facility Assessment (RFA) report. The ranking took into account: 1) type and design of the waste management unit, 2) volume of waste, 3) waste toxicity, and 4) likelihood of a release to the environment. Other factors included: 1) depth to groundwater, 2) groundwater use, 3) distance to surface water, 4) nearest drinking water intake, 5) nearest sensitive environment, and 6) nearby population. The RCRA Baseline was then checked against a list of facilities in the corrective action workload universe in RCRIS. This universe is calculated using the status of regulated units and corrective action activities which have occurred.

Current Status in Region 7

drillrigMany of the Region 7 Baseline GPRA sites are in the process of conducting corrective action. Some facilities have made substantial progress in their cleanup efforts, and have met the environmental indicator measures (CA 725 / CA 750). Other facilities that have not yet met the environmental indicators may have made substantial progress through stabilization measures. Determinations were made based on EI guidance and evaluation forms which EPA completes as part of the corrective action. Facilities may assist EPA in the evaluation by providing information on the current environmental condition, or by filling out the EI forms with their recommendations. There are 100 facilities on the Region 7 RCRA Cleanup Baseline (list and status). You'll notice that not all of the completed evaluation forms are available for viewing; the Region will post more of the facility evaluations as they become available.

How is Region 7 doing? Click here [PDF]( 1page, 16 KB) to see a display of our progress toward the 2005 EI goals.

The Environmental Indicators are designed to aid site decision makers by showing where risk reduction is necessary. Focusing on the Environmental Indicators should also help reduce delays in the review of cleanup work plans. To meet an EI determination means that there are no unacceptable pathways of exposure or contamination at the facility. Region 7 maintains a list of facilities on the RCRA Cleanup Baseline.

Contact Information

For general questions about the RCRA Cleanup Reforms, please contact the RCRA Hotline at (800)424-9346. For Region 7 facility-specific questions, contact the Air and Waste Management Division (AWMD) at 913-551-7020.


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