General Program Announcements

EPA to Host Listening Sessions on Superfund Task Force Recommendations Beginning May 21, 2018

The EPA’s Office of Site Remediation Enforcement announced the schedule for the series of eight listening sessions related to recommendations contained in the July 2017 Superfund Task Force Report. These listening sessions will provide a forum for EPA personnel to obtain stakeholder input on specific recommendations, increase public participation and transparency, and strengthen communication with stakeholders.

The eight listening sessions begin May 21, 2018 and end June 18, 2018. Information on each of the listening sessions and registration links are available on the EPA’s website at https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/listening-sessions-superfund-task-force-recommendations. The first session addresses Recommendation 16.2 and focuses on expediting negotiations with potentially responsible parties under Superfund cleanup agreements. Registration for the first listening session is open now.

The registration form provides a participant with the option to make live verbal remarks or to listen online. All session participants must register. Registration for verbal remarks also means the opportunity to listen to the entire session. The registration slots for verbal remarks are limited due to the two-hour time frame for the session. Additionally, the agency would like listening session participants to focus their remarks, both verbal and written submissions, on the questions and topics identified on each session’s registration form. Written remarks can be sent to OSRE via the listen session email address: osre-sftf-listeningsession@epa.gov.

Public Input Opportunity – Case Closure Reconsideration Process

The RR Program seeks your input on a revised, draft publication entitled “Wis. Admin. Code ch. NR 726 Case Closure Reconsideration Process (RR-102)”.

The purpose of this document is to provide responsible parties (RPs) with guidance on the opportunities available to engage the department to receive feedback on the adequacy of the Wis. Admin. Code chs. NR 700-754 response actions undertaken and submitted by the RP to document case closure. This guidance presents the process and feedback opportunities available if case closure is not recommended by the department. This general process is referred to as the case closure reconsideration process.

The document can be reviewed at http://dnr.wi.gov/news/input/guidance.html and comments can be submitted through June 5, 2018 to the Brownfields and Outreach Section Chief, Christine Haag at Christine.Haag@wisconsin.gov.

Reminder: Please Use New PECFA Mailing Address

On June 30, 2018, the Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program will stop using P.O. Box 8044 for all submittals related to the Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund Award (PECFA) program. At that time, all RR Program mail will consolidate all incoming mail into the current program-wide mailbox below:

Wisconsin DNR – RR/5
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707-7921

Please begin using the above mailing address for all PECFA claim submittals. Reminders will be sent throughout the fiscal year. The new address is stated on all PECFA forms.

Public Input Opportunity: Variances to the Usual and Customary Standardized Invoice for PECFA Projects

The Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program seeks your input on guidance regarding variances to the Usual & Customary (U&C) Standardized Invoice for Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund Award (PECFA) Program projects.

The guidance addresses a limited number of PECFA-eligible activities, based on their common occurrence, in order to ensure consistency in approving cost reimbursement where no standard rate exists.

Comments are due by May 23, 2018, and may be directed to Jenna.Soyer@wisconsin.gov.

DNR, Wisconsin Communities Receive $2.9M in EPA Brownfields Awards for FY2018

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Remediation and Redevelopment Program – along with its seven regional planning commission partners – is the recipient of a $600,000 US EPA Brownfields Grant.

The Wisconsin Brownfields Coalition will use this money to continue the Wisconsin Assessment Monies (WAM) program which provides funding to aid local governments and other eligible applicants in assessing and investigating environmental contamination at brownfields sites throughout the state. The coalition will target closed and closing manufacturing facilities to assess potential environmental contamination that could complicate reuse of the properties.

In addition to the Wisconsin DNR’s award, several other Wisconsin communities and entities were awarded US EPA Brownfields Grants:

  • Stevens Point – $300,000
  • Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee – $900,000
  • Racine – $300,000
  • Manitowoc – $300,000
  • Manitowoc Community Development Authority – $200,000
  • Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission – $300,000

“Clearly there is no shortage of creativity, innovation and ingenuity when it comes to brownfields redevelopment projects in the great State of Wisconsin,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator and former Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “EPA looks forward to expanding our work with our partners to redevelop brownfields so they can once again be thriving parts of their communities – spurring local economies with jobs and new businesses as well as generating tax revenues and spending.”

A full version of the US EPA press release can be found here.

TAB Program to Host May 9 Webinar on BUILD Act

The BUILD Act (Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development) was signed into law in March 2018 and is the first major legislative change to Brownfields since passage of the original statute in 2002. Specific changes include: increased eligibility for funding, additional liability protections, and changes to grant programs, just to name a few.

Join Kansas State University Technical Assistance to Brownfields Program for a free, National TAB webinar, on Wednesday, May 9 at 1:00 pm (Central), to hear about how the BUILD Act will improve the national brownfields program and support community brownfields revitalization. The webinar will feature officials from U.S. EPA, a local community, national brownfield experts, and the coordinator of the National Brownfields Coalition. Click here to register and visit the event web page to get more information about this May 9 BUILD Act webinar.

Public Input Opportunity – Soil Management Guidance for Cleanups

The RR Program seeks your input on a revised, draft publication entitled “Clean Soil Management: A Self-Implementing Option for Soil Excavated During a Response Action under Wis. Admin. Code §§ NR 700 through NR 750” (RR-103). This draft guidance was revised based on comments received from the public. This revision is much narrower in scope than the last version that was sent out for public comment.  This guidance is different than, but related to, the NR 718 contaminated soil guidance.

In particular, this guidance is intended solely for use by responsible parties (RPs) who are managing soil excavated as part of a response action pursuant to Wis. Stats. ch. 292 and Wis. Admin. Code chs. NR 700 – 754.

The guidance does not apply to soil excavated as part of a construction project, utility project or transportation project.  However, if those projects also involve an NR 700 response action, this guidance only applies to the soil excavated as a direct result of the response action.

This draft guidance provides an optional approach for responsible parties and their environmental consultants to use when soil is characterized and excavated as part of a response action (i.e., cleanup action), and the soil does not need to be managed at a licensed solid waste facility or through a site-specific exemption in Wis. Admin. Code chs. NR 718 or the NR 500 rule series. This document provides responsible parties (RPs) more clarity on what types of substances – if identified in soil – could generally be managed as “clean soil” in accordance with state law without the department’s pre-approval or tracking.  However, the person placing or accepting the soil would need to comply with limited locational criteria. The department believes that providing this guidance will help responsible parties and their environmental consultants to save money, and make more timely and consistent decisions on how to manage this type of excavated soil during a Wis. Admin. Code ch. NR 700 cleanup action.

The document can be reviewed at http://dnr.wi.gov/news/input/guidance.html and comments can be submitted through May 13, 2018 to the Brownfields and Outreach Section Chief, Christine Haag at Christine.Haag@wisconsin.gov. In addition, the RR Program will host a question and answer session on this guidance scheduled for April 20, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. Meeting logistics and agenda can be found on the DNR’s public meetings calendar (dnr.wi.gov search “public meetings”).  Externals are encouraged to provide written comments, as formal note taking will not capture comments during the listening session. Please note: Attendees must check-in at the visitors desk on the first floor. A conference call number is also available. Please RSVP to Christine Haag (christine.haag@wisconsin.gov) if planning to attend.

REMINDER: Avoid Case Closure Problems; Use Latest Version of Closure Form

The Remediation and Redevelopment Program asks consultants to use the most recent version of the Case Closure Request Form (4400-202), updated in August 2016, which can be found on the Program’s Environmental Professionals web page. Use of this form to request case closure is required by Wis. Admin. Code § NR 726.09(1)

Accessing the form via the link on the web page ensures that you are using the most up-to-date version, which in turn assists with meeting the requirements for an “administratively complete” submittal.

PECFA Reimbursement Rate for Professional Engineers

For consultants and agents performing PECFA work, please note that the Senior Professional rate (currently $109.67) is generally expected to cover time for a Professional Engineer to review necessary documentation when required by Wis. Admin. Code ch. NR 712. This is also reflected in the current UCCS Task Reference Guide #23 (pg. 4; DNR publication RR-092a).

If consultants or PECFA agents feel the Principal rate is warranted for extremely complex sites instead of the Senior Professional rate, the RR Program asks that a justification be provided to the DNR project manager at the time of the cost request.

Engaging Real Estate Lenders in Brownfields Redevelopment Projects

Financing can make or break a redevelopment project; however, lenders are often wary of the environmental liabilities associated with brownfields redevelopments. In order to encourage lenders to finance these projects, Wisconsin state law exempts lenders from environmental liabilities for a range of lending activities, if they meet certain statutory conditions.

In its 2015 report, Investing in Wisconsin, the Brownfields Study Group (BSG) recognized that Wisconsin’s liability exemption for lenders had recently turned 20 years old, and noted that the lending industry had evolved significantly over those two decades. The BSG recommended that a subset of the group meet with stakeholders to examine whether the exemption remains useful and relevant in light of current lending practices and regulations.

Between May 2016 and April 2017, a group of Wisconsin DNR personnel, lenders, attorneys, and trade organizations met five times to discuss, in a public forum, the various components of the state’s lender liability exemption and analyze whether the current exemption meets the needs of lenders and the public. In April 2017, this group of professionals formed a list of recommendations for the BSG, which will consider the proposed items at an upcoming public meeting.

During this effort, the Wisconsin DNR renewed its outreach efforts and strengthened partnerships with the lending community. The Wisconsin DNR reviewed its lender factsheets and updated and republished several guidance documents. The Wisconsin Bankers Association helped the Wisconsin DNR reach the WBA members by authoring informational articles in its membership publications and by distributing Wisconsin DNR’s guidance at its compliance forums, and including information in teaching materials for its compliance courses. Wisconsin DNR staff continue to reach out to bankers and lenders at statewide conferences and via Green Team meetings.