ASSOCIATION STAFF — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has announced a new policy addressing our members’ number one concern with the Voluntary Cleanup and Property Redevelopment Program (VCP).
Many Association members may be familiar with or enrolled in the VCP, where a facility works with the KDHE in remediating past ag chemical contamination at their facility. Enrollment in this program allows a company to later apply to the Remediation Reimbursement Fund ( KARB program) for reimbursement of expenses related to the clean-up project.
In recent years, Association Staff has worked with the KDHE on amending the VCP to improve the program for industry. In 2015, your Association worked with KDHE to pass HB 2193, a bill which modified the VCP to allow industry members a more clear path toward completing a remediation project and receiving a “no further action” letter. Other changes included moving to a risk-based remediation system rather than requiring a defined drinking water standard, and removing an enrollment requirement for adjacent properties contributing to the contamination site.
However, when members were asked to identify their primary frustration with the VCP program, the most common response was the additional time and expense related to the turnover of a KDHE project site manager. KDHE has acknowledged that this situation presents itself quite often. All too often, however, this administrative change on KDHE’s end has translated into new requirements on the facility once the newly assigned KDHE project site manager performs their initial evaluation of the site. Commonly, the new KDHE project manager required additional monitoring, sampling, testing, digging, etc., activities that were either not required or consistent with what the previous KDHE project manager had required. All of these new requirements come with additional expenses on the owner of the facility.
Hearing from our members, Association Staff brought this important issue to the attention of the KDHE. In response to those conversations, your Association is pleased to report the following new policy and announcement from the KDHE:
KDHE appreciates your bringing to our attention the concerns of your association members. With regards to new project managers, [KDHE has] been directing the project managers to follow prior decisions made at sites to ensure KDHE provides a consistent direction to the VC applicant. Any project manager that believes an error has potentially been made in the past is required to present the information to Deanna and me prior to consideration for a change. No changes will be made unless a previous decision creates a significant risk to human health or the environment. We do not take these decisions lightly and any changes will require direct input and discussion with the applicant and/or their designated consultant.
– Bob Jurgens, Chief, Assessment & Restoration Section, Bureau of Environmental Remediation, Kansas Dept. of Health & Environment
Your Association staff is pleased with this new development and appreciates KDHE’s willingness to listen to industry and work to improve the program. If you encounter a similar situation in the future with the assignment of a new project manager, please feel free to contact your Association staff.