Guide Making Progress Cleaning Up Contaminated Properties

The Massachusetts Contingency Plan was significantly revised effective October 1, 1993 when a new, privatized approach was adopted. Since then, DEP has worked with private-sector Licensed Site Professionals (LSPs) to assess and cleanup sites. This page asks and answers questions about the progress of cleanups since 1993. This information is current through Fiscal Year 2016.

Notifications - Summary

47,759 Releases Reported since 1984
  • How many releases have been reported to DEP?
    Since 1984, over 47,000 releases have been reported to the Department.
     
  • What accounts for the most notifications: sudden releases (spills) or historic contamination?
    Two-hour notifications, primarily related to new spills, account for 50 percent of all the notifications received since 2009. The balance of notifications is split between: 120-Day notifications, generally associated with finding historic contamination at concentrations above Reportable Concentrations; and 72-Hour notifications, which include (among other conditions) leaking tanks, groundwater contamination near a public well or near/at a private well, and actual/potential impacts to indoor air.
     
  • Are the numbers of spills increasing each year?
    No. There has been an overall decline of all three types of notifications (2-Hour, 72-Hour and 120-Day) over time.  This trend is consistent with better environmental management practices, upgrades in underground storage tanks, and a diminishing universe of undiscovered "historic" contamination. The notable increase in 72-Hour notifications in 1999 is attributable to the discovery of contamination related to leaking underground storage tanks driven by the federal deadline for the upgrade or replacement of underground storage tanks.

Releases By Notification Category

Cleanup & Closures - Summary

34,832 Sites Closed Since 1993
  • How many sites have been cleaned up since 1993?
    34,832 sites, averaging over 1500 per year. 
     
  • How many sites have been cleaned for unrestricted use?
    A Permanent Solution with No Conditions has been achieved at 31,479 sites (or 90%), indicating that the site is suitable for unrestricted use. (This includes sites that have achieved Class A-1, A-2, and B-1 Response Action Outcomes – the closure categories that were in place prior to the 2014 regulatory changes.)
     
  • How many sites have achieved temporary solutions?
    A Temporary Solution has been achieved at 771 (2%) of the sites cleaned up to date (6/30/16). (Temporary Solutions were referred to Class C RAOs prior to Spring 2014.)

     
  • At how many of the sites with a Permanent Solution was a deed notice or restriction (i.e., an Activity and Use Limitation) used as part of the remedy?
    Between 1994 and 2016, 6% (1,996) of Permanent Solutions included an Activity and Use Limitation (AUL) as part of the final remedy. 

Trends In The Use of AULs

  • How long does the cleanup process take?
    Over 88% of the releases from FY95 to FY10 have achieved regulatory closures in less than six years from the time of notification. For the purpose of the chart below sites with regulatory closure include those with the compliance status of: Permanent Solution with No Conditions, Permanent Solution with Conditions, Adequately Regulated, Downgradient Property Status, RTN Closed, Memorandum of Understanding (DEPMOU), Not a Disposal Site (DEPNDS), DEP No Further Action (DEPNFA), LSP No Further Action (LSPNFA), Pending Not a Disposal Site (PENNDS), Pending No Further Action (PENNFA), Special Project (SPECPR), Utility-related Abatement Measure (URAM), Waiver Completion Statement (WCSPRM).
     

Percentage of All Releases Achieving Regulatory Closure Within 6 Years

The chart below shows the length of time to achieve a Permanent or Temporary Solution from the time of notification by notification type (2-Hour, 72-Hour or 120-Day). The time required to achieve a Permanent or Temporary Solution is less than 6 years in the vast majority of cases and for all notification types (2 Hour - 98%, 72 Hour - 88%, 120 Day - 90%).
 

Time to Permanent or Temporary Solution, by Notification Category


The chart below shows the current status of notifications made in FY2010.  The chart shows that for the majority of sites for which the notification was made either a Permanent Solution has been achieved or a Permanent/Temporary Solution is not required within 6 years.  (The most common reasons why a Permanent or Temporary Solution is not required is because the notification condition has been “linked” (i.e., response actions consolidated) under another notification and release tracking number.  Other reason include the site is considered Adequately Regulated, Downgradient Property Status has been achieved or a Utility-related Abatement Measure is being conducted.)
 

FY10 Notifications

 

Immediate Response Actions

Immediate Response Actions (IRAs) are required to address any condition that triggers a 2-Hour or 72-Hour notification to the Department.  IRAs are expedited response actions that include at a minimum assessment, and where appropriate, actions to contain, isolate, or remove contamination from the environment that is the result of a release or address a threat of release.  IRAs require approval by the Department.  The chart below shows IRA approvals (both oral and written) by the Department by Fiscal Year (FY).

Immediate Response Action Approvals By Fiscal Year

Audits

Since FY2000 MassDEP has conducted over 45,000 audits of response action submittals to evaluate and ensure compliance of those submittals and the associated response actions with the Massachusetts Contingency Plan.  MassDEP conducts three different types of audits, which are referred to as Level 1 (Technical Screening Audit), Level 2 (Audit Inspection), and Level 3 (Comprehensive Audit).  (Link to Audits Page) The majority of all audits conducted by MassDEP over time (over 80%) have been Level 1 Audits.  The chart below shows the number of audits completed by fiscal year and the type of audit.

MassDEP Audits Complete by Fiscal Year

Notifications - Year-by-Year Data

Fiscal Year

2-Hour

72-Hour

120-Day

"None"

Total

1985

0 0 0 21 21

1986

0 0 0 194 194

1987

0 0 0 1223 1223

1988

0 0 0 398 398

1989

0 0 0 1294 1294

1990

0 0 0 1162 1162

1991

0 0 0 624 624

1992

0 0 0 503 503

1993

0 0 0 551 551

1994

1045 708 225 945 2923

1995

1070 675 465 8 2218

1996

983 533 657 7 2180

1997

1032 541 610 5 2188

1998

967 630 661 3 2261

1999

971 893 729 0 2593

2000

1003 464 730 4 2201

2001

1136 411 663 0 2210

2002

990 438 573 2 2003

2003

1020 333 577 0 1930

2004

1027 306 520 0 1853

2005

973 334 525 0 1832

2006

931 386 515 0 1832

2007

883

287

557

0

1727

2008

677

293

494

0

1464

2009

745

250

434

0

1429

2010

716

235

343

0

1295

2011

734

218

374

0

1326

2012

685

252

407

0

1344

2013

664

185

384

0

1233

2014 619 223 389 0 1231
2015 663 201 391 0 1255
2016 682 200 379 0 1261
Total-to-Date: 20231 9012 11646 6870 47759

Cleanup & Closures - Year-by-Year Data

Year-by-Year Distribution of Sites Cleaned Upa

Fiscal Year

PSNCb

PSCb

TMPSb

Grand Total

1994 555 12 1 568
1995 1764 82 7 1853
1996 1483 103 8 1594
1997 1800 182 12 1994
1998 1638 209 19 1866
1999 1716 140 16 1872
2000 1629 134 27 1790
2001 1691 123 31 1845
2002 1603 97 25 1725
2003 1570 118 34 1722
2004 1626 109 37 1772
2005 1535 94 39 1668
2006 1586 116 39 1741

2007

1480 92 40 1612

2008

1268 101 34 1403

2009

1279 89 53 1421

2010

1186 102 62 1350

2011

1039 117 58 1214

2012

1195 83 59 1337

2013

1028 80 58 1166
2014 986 96 50 1132
2015 922 155 57 1134
2016 930 175 57 1162

Totals

31509 2609 823 34233

 

For a complete explanation of the terms and acronyms used here, see the document, "Understanding the Waste Site/Release Look Up Search Results" below.

a Prior to June 20, 2014, the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) used different Response Action Outcome (RAO) classes to identify Permanent and Temporary Solutions. After the June 2014 MCP amendments, RAO classes were recategorized into types of Permanent or Temporary Solutions in accordance with the transition provisions at 310 CMR 40.1055 (see below).

310 CMR 40.1055 Transition Provisions

  • (1) As of June 20, 2014, all Class A-1, A-2 and B-1 Response Action Outcomes submitted to the Department prior to June 20, 2014 shall be Permanent Solutions with No Conditions.
  • (2) As of June 20, 2014, all Class A-3, A-4, B-2 and B-3 Response Action Outcomes submitted to the Department prior to June 20, 2014 shall be Permanent Solutions with Conditions.
  • (3) As of June 20, 2014, all Class C-1 Response Action Outcomes submitted to the Department prior to June 20, 2014 shall be Temporary Solutions as described in 310 CMR 40.1050(1)(e)1.
  • (4) As of June 20, 2014, all Class C-2 Response Action Outcomes submitted to the Department prior to June 20, 2014 shall be Temporary Solution as described in 310 CMR 40.1050(1)(e)2.

b

  • PSNC - Permanent Solution with No Conditions
  • PSC - Permanent Solution with Conditions
  • TMPS - Temporary Solution

Additional Resources

Image credits:  Boston Light (Paul Locke)

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