- Reliance on Licensed Site Professionals (LSPs), experts in assessment and cleanup who are licensed by the Commonwealth and can be hired by the private sector to manage/oversee cleanups, allowing assessments and cleanups to proceed at most sites without delays due to the need to get MassDEP approvals.
- Opportunities and incentives for cleaning up small problems quickly, and avoiding more structured and expensive response action requirements. In some cases, "Limited Removal Actions" performed before a notification deadline can keep a site out of the system entirely. "Release Abatement Measures" can be conducted to reduce risks, limit the spread of contamination at sites that have been reported to MassDEP, and in some cases remove the need for additional response actions.
- A level of MassDEP oversight of response actions that fits the nature of the problem. For example, MassDEP oversees cleanup of spills and situations presenting "imminent hazards" when appropriate.
- MassDEP audits of response actions at sites to ensure that private sector cleanups are done properly.
A Streamlined Process
MassDEP has streamlined requirements for response actions, providing greater certainty and a more flexible process:
- Clear notification thresholds for historical contamination that screen out problems that are not likely to cause a significant risk to public health and the environment;
- No upfront MassDEP approvals for most sites; and one for many others, reducing processing time and costs for the private sector;
- Performance standards that allow the level of investigation to be set by the nature of the problem;
- Numerical standards for deciding "how clean is clean enough" for 107 of the most common contaminants, and the ability to factor in site-specific information where appropriate;
- Ability to tailor cleanup decisions to fit the current and planned use of a property and to use "Activity and Use Limitations" (deed restrictions and deed notices) that lock in these uses and to provide critical information to future property owners about the cleanup; and
- Providing clear endpoints to the process ("Permanent Solutions”, “Permanent Solutions with Conditions” and “Temporary Solutions") so that lenders, future owners and tenants (etc.) can find out what cleanup has been done at a site – with the documentation available on-line upon submittal to DEP.
Incentives for Cleanup
Other incentives for private parties to undertake response actions were also included in the amendments to M.G.L. c. 21E:
- Clarified liability of secured lenders and fiduciaries to ensure that, as long as they meet certain requirements, they will not be held responsible for cleanup costs. These clarifications should encourage lending and trust management of contaminated properties.
- Clarified rights of liable parties and others who respond to releases to make it easier for other liability parties to contribute to response actions.
- A dispute resolution mechanism has been provided that private parties must use to obtain participation from other possibly liable parties.
- Private parties conducting response actions have the right to gain access to contaminated property for assessment and cleanup work.