Closure Through Texas Regulatory Programs

W&M Environmental Group has developed a reputation for cleanup and closure of contaminated properties in Texas. W&M has closed over 130 sites through TCEQ remediation programs such as the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), Leaking Petroleum Storage Tank (LPST), Innocent Owner/Operator Program (IOP), and Corrective Action.  We have also worked on EPA/TCEQ Brownfields projects and Superfund sites along with the TCEQ’s Dry Cleaner Remediation Program (DCRP).

W&M utilizes risk-based closure strategies as much as possible, resorting to active remediation options when risk-based corrective action is not sufficient to address contaminated environmental media. W&M understands the nuances of working through TCEQ regulatory programs and has built an excellent relationship working with TCEQ case coordinators and senior managers to get projects closed.

In Texas, most contaminated sites are subject to the technical regulations under the Texas Risk Reduction Program (TRRP) or Petroleum Storage Tank (PST) rules. Programs regulated by TRRP include VCP, IOP, DCRP, and CA, while PST rules and regulations apply to LPST cases.  W&M has extensive experience with both TRRP and PST sites.

Voluntary Cleanup Program

The VCP has become one of the preferred options for real estate sellers/buyers seeking to clean up contaminated properties, obtain regulatory closure from TCEQ, and obtain financing. The VCP operates under the TRRP rules and regulations.  For real estate deals, the VCP has become the “gold standard” because the TCEQ issues a certificate of completion for all media, all chemicals of concern, and all current and future land owners.  For liability protection, closure through the VCP is tough to beat.

For sites in the VCP, the applicant is required to investigate and cleanup their site in a “voluntary” manner unlike other programs that are driven by the state. Since the TCEQ is giving the applicant a release of liability for all contaminants and media, the investigation requirements for a VCP case are typically more rigorous.  Another key item associated with the VCP is that the TCEQ has a set time period of 60 days to review reports and respond to submittals.

W&M works with our clients to investigate, complete the required VCP documents to TCEQ, manage the project, work with the TCEQ as a client advocate, remediate impacted media as necessary, and obtain the closure certificate as quickly and efficiently as possible. To accomplish this, we consider and utilize all of the tools available in the program, such as plume management zones, municipal setting designations (MSDs), aquifer classification such as low yield (Class 3 Groundwater), use of Site-specific background calculations, Tier 2 cross-media calculations for metals, etc.  W&M has used the VCP to close a wide range of sites which were later redeveloped as either residential or mixed use properties.

Leaking Petroleum Storage Tank Program

Leaking tank cases are handled by the TCEQ through their PST Division using well-established regulatory guidance. The Texas PST is a comprehensive regulatory program for underground storage tanks (USTs) and to a lesser extent above-ground storage tanks (ASTs).  W&M is a TCEQ PST Registered Corrective Action Specialist (RCAS), and W&M professionals are registered as PST Corrective Action Project Managers (CAPM).

W&M has extensive experience in the project management, investigation, reporting, remediation (impacted soil and groundwater along with NAPL abatement), and assistance with obtaining No Further Action letters. W&M staff has worked with many of the LPST case coordinators over the years and met with senior agency staff to work through issues.  W&M is involved in each of the steps required for regulatory closure of LPST sites.

Innocent Owner/Operator Program

The innocent owner/operator program of TCEQ provides liability relief for contamination from an off-Site source to parties that have not “caused or contributed” to the contamination. In other words, the IOP can be useful if your property was impacted by an off-Site business such as a dry cleaner (typically perchloroethylene [perc] and its degradation products), service station (gasoline range compounds) or industrial facility with VOCs and metals.  W&M has worked on numerous IOP cases and received IOP Certificates for our clients.  Some cases may prove to be difficult and this is where we shine.  W&M has the expertise to work through issues with the TCEQ such trace concentrations of contamination in the soil and/or absence of an off-site source.

Corrective Action Program

Corrective Action is a remediation program at TCEQ that operates under the rules and regulation of the TRRP. This program is similar to VCP but is not always voluntary, typically focuses in on a specific affected area or release, and does not have a time frame for review of documents and response letters.  Also the Corrective Action program issues a No Further Action letter to the Responsible Party at the end of the process and not a Certificate of Completion.  It is our experience that Corrective Action is a good program for industrial facilities especially if they want to target a specific area of concern, contaminant or media (e. g., metals in the soil) rather than all contaminants and all media.  For real estate transactions, Corrective Action is typically not our preferred option.

Dry Cleaner Remediation Program

The Texas DCRP is a state lead program for dry cleaning facilities and properties with dry cleaners (e. g., strip centers). The TCEQ manages the projects, using contractors to complete investigations and sampling, and pays for all costs less a deductible amount paid by the facility owner or operator.  W&M has a working knowledge of the program and can assist you with the DCRP application.

In our opinion, DCRP is a good option if you want to put your property into a lower cost/long term regulatory program where the state is paying for the assessment, monitoring, remediation, and ultimately closure. However, the program is typically slow moving.  Unlike VCP, the DCRP does not have a review time table, the program has a limited budget, does not use the MSD as a risk-based option, and sites are prioritized based on periodic TCEQ scoring.  High priority sites are addressed first, while lower priority sites may have little or no activity for many years.  DCRP site closures have historically been slow and since the DCRP does not allow the use of an MSD many of these cases have not been closed.