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 2018.

Table of Contents

Notifications - Summary

50,425 Releases Reported since 1984
  • How many releases have been reported to DEP?
    Since 1984, over 50,000 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

37,187 Sites Closed Since 1993
  • How many sites have been cleaned up since 1993?
    37,187 sites, averaging over 1400 per year. 
     
  • How many sites have been cleaned for unrestricted use?
    A Permanent Solution with No Conditions has been achieved at 33,495 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 779 (2%) of the sites cleaned up to date (6/30/18). (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 2018, 6% (2,146) 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 89% of the releases from FY95 to FY12 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 - 97%, 72 Hour - 88%, 120 Day - 89%).
 

Time to Permanent or Temporary Solution, by Notification Category


The chart below shows the current status of notifications made in FY2012.  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 48,000 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 1222 1222
1988 0 0 0 398 398
1989 0 0 0 1294 1294
1990 0 0 0 1162 1162
1991 0 0 0 625 625
1992 0 0 0 503 503
1993 0 0 0 551 551
1994 1044 707 225 945 2921
1995 1070 675 465 8 2218
1996 983 533 657 7 2180
1997 1031 541 610 5 2187
1998 966 630 661 3 2260
1999 970 893 729   2592
2000 1002 464 730 4 2200
2001 1136 411 663   2210
2002 990 438 573 2 2003
2003 1020 333 577   1930
2004 1026 306 520   1852
2005 973 334 525   1832
2006 929 386 515   1830
2007 881 287 557   1725
2008 675 293 494   1462
2009 743 250 434   1427
2010 715 236 342   1294
2011 734 218 374   1326
2012 685 252 407   1344
2013 664 184 383   1231
2014 618 223 389   1230
2015 659 200 390   1249
2016 670 198 375   1243
2017 693 212 410   1315
2018 833 205 356   1394
Total-to-Date: 21710 9409 12361 6944 50425

Cleanup & Closures - Year-by-Year Data

Fiscal Year

PSNCb

PSCb

TMPSb

Grand Total

1994 556 12 1 569
1995 1763 82 7 1852
1996 1486 102 8 1596
1997 1812 180 11 2003
1998 1644 205 17 1866
1999 1718 138 16 1872
2000 1633 130 24 1787
2001 1693 124 24 1841
2002 1603 96 25 1724
2003 1571 119 32 1722
2004 1626 112 33 1771
2005 1538 92 34 1664
2006 1586 115 33 1734
2007 1479 93 35 1607
2008 1268 100 32 1400
2009 1279 86 44 1409
2010 1188 104 52 1344
2011 1040 117 49 1206
2012 1199 82 45 1326
2013 1029 80 49 1158
2014 988 98 43 1129
2015 902 141 41 1084
2016 910 159 36 1105
2017 950 188 39 1177
2018 1034 158 49 1241
Grand Total 33495 2913 779 37187

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 for Cleanup & Closures - Year-by-Year Data

EEA Data Portal

The Data Portal provides access to search and interact with regulatory data, including MassDEP data pertaining to Permits, Facilities, Inspections, and Enforcements.

 

Key Actions for EEA Data Portal

Image credits:  Boston Light (Paul Locke)

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