Oregon DEQ Pilot Program to Review Long-term Controls at Cleanup Sites

Legal Alert

This March the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) is launching a pilot program to take a fresh look at long-term institutional and engineering controls implemented at cleanup sites that have received No Further Action (“NFA”) determinations. DEQ’s goal is to evaluate whether long-term controls are functioning as intended to protect the public and the environment from exposure to contaminants in soil and water.

Under the pilot program, DEQ will randomly select 25 to 30 sites for review; currently, approximately 650 sites with long-term controls exist across the state. DEQ will only select among sites that (1) are located in DEQ’s Northwest Region and (2) have long-term controls that were implemented prior to 2010. The Northwest Region includes Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Tillamook, and Washington counties. DEQ anticipates that review of all of the selected sites will require four to eight months.

Before reviewing a site, DEQ will notify the site owner and provide a summary of the review process and an estimate of the costs to review the site. A site owner may be required to undertake review of its site. DEQ anticipates that most site owners will be able to complete the review without assistance. Some sites, however, may require that DEQ visit the site or that a professional engineer review the site controls. Site owners will be responsible for costs associated with DEQ site visits and/or engineer review.

Through the pilot program, DEQ expects to gather information about how to implement a permanent institutional and engineering controls review program. DEQ has explained that it “has no reason to believe the [pilot program] will reveal widespread failures” and, in the event that a control is not functioning effectively, DEQ will “make every effort to work cooperatively with the site owner on needed follow-up actions.”

If you previously obtained an NFA, or are subject to a Consent Order or Easement & Equitable Servitude that requires institutional controls, this is a good time to review those requirements and make certain you are in compliance. If you need assistance in that review, please contact a key contributor or your Stoel Rives attorney.

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