Public participation is an essential part of the Commonwealth's Waste Site Cleanup Program. Many people find it difficult, however, to understand the technical and scientific information contained in the plans and reports related to the assessment and cleanup of disposal sites. These difficulties can hinder effective participation by citizens in the disposal site assessment and cleanup process. MassDEP’s Technical Assistance Grant Program provides an opportunity for interested persons to enhance their participation in assessment and cleanup activities at disposal sites in their communities. Technical Assistance Grants (TAGs) are awarded to selected community and citizens’ groups to allow those groups to obtain expert assistance, increase public participation, and provide public education about disposal site assessment and cleanup activities.
TAGs are authorized by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 21E, §14c, and implemented through the provisions of the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP)-- the Commonwealth’s regulation for the notification, assessment and cleanup of disposal sites. The TAG provisions are contained in the MCP at 310 CMR 40.1450.
Technical Assistance Grant Opportunity and Application
The following questions were received during the Official Q&A period, which ended on August 25, 2023. MassDEP's Official Responses to these questions are provided here:
Informational Meeting About the Grants
In support of the FY24 - 25 grant round, MassDEP held a virtual informational meeting to provide interested parties with an overview of Technical Assistance Grants, grant eligibility requirements, and the grant application process and timelines.
Links to the recorded video of the meeting and the slides from the presentation can be found here:
TAG awards are determined through a competitive application process based upon specific evaluation criteria. Proposed projects selected for funding will be those that best address the TAG Program goals of assisting citizens in understanding and using information that becomes the basis for assessment and cleanup decisions and promoting citizen involvement in planning response actions.
Who is eligible to apply?
Groups of individuals who may be affected by an eligible disposal site can apply for TAGs. These groups must:
- Exist as a legal entity, with legal authority to receive, disburse, and be responsible for funds at the time the grant is awarded. The legal entity process is coordinated by the Massachusetts Secretary of State Corporations Office (http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cor/coridx.htm) and requires a group to establish a Board of Directors and by-laws; and
- Be an “affected person,” meaning the group is comprised of individuals who may have been impacted by an eligible disposal site.
Types of eligible applicants include:
- Groups of individuals, such as community groups and neighborhood associations, including individuals whose properties may have been impacted by the eligible disposal site;
- A district or other body politic that owns or operates a public water supply; or
- A city, town or agency.
Who is NOT eligible to apply?
Groups that are not eligible to apply for TAGs are those that:
- Have either contributed to the disposal site contamination or have been involved in the disposal site cleanup;
- Have restricted participation and involvement by others who may be impacted by the disposal site;
- Do not represent individuals who may have been affected by the disposal site; or
- Are municipal entities that:
- own or operate the disposal site, and therefore, are considered to be a responsible party or potentially responsible party; or
- are conducting or funding any type of response actions at the disposal site.
What disposal sites are eligible?
Eligible disposal sites are those that are actively being evaluated for cleanup and are:
- Classified as Tier I and Tier II under the MCP (this does not include disposal sites classified as Tier ID by default);
- A Massachusetts disposal site on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund National Priorities List; and/or
- Deemed by MassDEP to be “Adequately Regulated” under the MCP by another MassDEP program or another government agency.
Disposal sites that have been designated Public Involvement Plan (PIP) sites under the MCP are eligible for TAGs, however, a disposal site does not need PIP status to be considered an eligible disposal site for a TAG.
What disposal sites are NOT eligible?
Disposal sites that are not actively involved in the assessment and cleanup process are not eligible. These are disposal sites at which:
- A valid Permanent Solution Statement has been submitted to MassDEP; or
- A Waiver Completion Statement has been submitted to MassDEP.
Where can disposal site information be found?
Information related to specific disposal sites that is needed or may be helpful to complete the application is available on the MassDEP website through the links below.
What types of activities are eligible for TAG funding?
TAGs may be used to provide citizens with:
- Access to expert advice and technical assistance related to assessing and cleaning up an eligible disposal site;
- Access to and use of information that has been developed for an eligible disposal site; and
- Information about issues of public concern related to eligible disposal sites.
Examples of eligible activities include, but are not limited to:
- Interpreting technical information and sampling data that have been prepared (or will be prepared) by the person conducting the disposal site response action;
- Observing assessment, sampling, or response action activities;
- Analyzing split samples (i.e., analyzing duplicates of samples collected by the party conducting disposal site response actions);
- Conducting surveys to gather existing health information through interviews or questionnaires from individuals who may be affected by the disposal site;
- Obtaining legal advice - however, only that which is restricted to the public's involvement in response actions;
- Conducting public education activities focusing on the eligible disposal and the affected community; or
- Providing a reasonable share of funding for voluntary mediation concerning disposal site response actions.
What types of activities are NOT eligible for TAGs?
TAGs may not be used to:
- Develop new environmental or medical data;
- Conduct or arrange any cleanup actions at the disposal site;
- Promote organizational development or membership building, except for activities that are incidental to carrying out eligible activities;
- Conduct partisan political activity or any activity to support or defeat of an initiative petition or a candidate for public office; or
- Initiate litigation or any other adversarial legal proceedings.
2022 TAG Recipients
On December 22, 2022, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that $80,000 in grants have been awarded to three municipalities and one community group as part of the Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) Program. The TAG Program, administered by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), provides funding to enhance citizen participation in assessment and cleanup activities at waste disposal sites in their communities. Awards may be used to obtain expert assistance, increase public participation, and provide public education.
“We are pleased to offer this program to assist citizens in understanding the complex information on which site cleanup decisions are based and promote more informed citizen involvement in planning for site cleanups. The grants will give local communities a voice in how these sites are assessed and eventually remediated.” - Energy and Environment Affairs Secretary Beth Card.
“MassDEP established the TAG Program to encourage public participation. Our grant recipients are working on projects that inform municipal and residential groups more effectively, promote greater awareness and increase public engagement in the assessment and cleanup activities at disposal sites in their communities.” - MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg.
The grant recipients are:
Town of Burlington – Up to $20,000
Burlington will use its award to engage technical expertise to interpret and summarize existing information available on two disposal sites located in the town: One site, at 179 Cambridge Street in Burlington, is the location of a former dry cleaner where perchloroethylene (PCE) has been detected in soil, groundwater, and indoor air. The second site, at 18 Terry Avenue in Burlington, is impacted by trichloroethene (TCE) that has been detected in soil, groundwater, and indoor air.
Town of Hanson – Up to $20,000
Hanson will use its award to obtain technical expertise to review and summarize recent reports for the local community. The National Fireworks disposal site comprises 240 acres of commercial and residential property in Hanover and Hanson and is the former site of a fireworks and pyrotechnics manufacturer. Contaminants of concern include metals, volatile organic compounds, and semi-volatile organic compounds in in surface water, soil, and sediment. In addition, Munitions and Explosives of Concern and Material Potentially Presenting an Explosive Hazard were identified in two areas in the southern portion of the disposal site.
Town Concord – Up to $20,000
Concord will use its award to engage technical expertise to evaluate and interpret environmental data and reports to encourage better public participation in the cleanup and reuse of a former depleted uranium and specialty metal products facility. The Nuclear Metals Superfund Site in Concord is a 46-acre disposal site is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List. Contaminants of concern include poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, uranium, polychlorinated biphenyls, volatile organic compounds, and semi-volatile organic compounds that have impacted soil and groundwater.
Lunt Neighborhood Action Group – Up to $20,000
Lunt Neighborhood Action Group will use its award to engage technical expertise to evaluate and interpret existing information about the Former Lunt Silversmith Site in Greenfield to encourage better public participation in the ongoing cleanup. The disposal site is a former metal manufacturing facility and contaminants of concern include chlorinated volatile organic compounds that have been detected in soil, groundwater, and indoor air.
“Thank you to Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito and Commissioner Suuberg for giving us the funding to involve the public in the cleanup of the National Fireworks disposal site that has been a major constituent concern for many years.” - State Senator Michael D. Brady (D-Brockton).
“The Town of Hanson has been committed to ensuring that the National Fireworks disposal site is remediated in an effective and transparent manner. This grant will help to facilitate this goal by ensuring that Hanson has the necessary technical expertise at their disposal, while furthering Hanson’s goal of providing community members with critical information and updates about the clean-up process.” - State Representative Josh S. Cutler (D-Duxbury
2021 TAG Recipients
On October 14, 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that $45,000 in grants have been awarded to three municipalities as part of the Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) Program. The TAG Program, administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), provides funding to enhance citizen participation in assessment and cleanup activities at waste disposal sites in their communities. Awards may be used to obtain expert assistance, increase public participation, and provide public education.
“The Technical Assistance Grant Program seeks to assist citizens in understanding the technical information for how site cleanup decisions are based and promotes more informed public involvement in planning for future site cleanups. The grants will give local residents a voice in how these sites are assessed and ultimately remediated.” - Energy and Environment Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides
“MassDEP established the Technical Assistance Grant Program to encourage public participation. The program is intended to enhance the understanding and engagement of municipal and stakeholder groups in assessment and cleanup activities at disposal sites in their communities with funding for outside expert advice, technical assistance, and site-related education and outreach.” - MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg.
The grant recipients are:
Town of Barnstable – Up to $15,000
Barnstable will use its award to engage technical expertise to interpret and enhance understanding of the regulatory process and technical objectives of the cleanup needed at the Barnstable County Fire Training Academy disposal site. The site contaminants of concern include per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and petroleum in soil and groundwater.
City of Framingham – Up to $15,000
Framingham will use its award to obtain technical expertise to review and summarize recent reports to the local community, including the translation of documents into Spanish and Portuguese. The disposal site is a former manufactured gas plant site (MGP), located on Irving Street, and contaminants of concern include MGP waste and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in groundwater, surface water, soil, and sediment.
Town of Norfolk – Up to $15,000
Norfolk will use its award to engage technical expertise to evaluate and interpret environmental data that has been collected during previous response actions at the Buckley and Mann site, located on Lawrence Street. The disposal site is a former textile manufacturing plant, and contaminants of concern include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, and PCBs in groundwater, surface water, soil, and sediment.