Waste Programs Division

Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP)

To address the threat of contamination, it’s important to accelerate cleanups. ADEQ’s Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP) encourages property owners and other interested parties to invest resources voluntarily in recovering contaminated sites as quickly as possible to healthful standards. In return for such willing cooperation, ADEQ foregoes enforcement activity at the site.

The program expedites the remedial actions review and excuses the need for further action at the site so long as remediation levels and controls meet statutory requirements. Such a determination can often influence the ability of property owners and others to return contaminated sites to economic viability, which further benefits Arizona communities.

Eligibility

Most sites are eligible to participate in the VRP, although there are some exceptions. For example, sites listed on the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF) registry with the same con­taminants of concern (COCs) are ineligible, as are hazardous waste sites and underground storage tank sites undergoing certain corrective actions required by ADEQ, a court of law or an administrative order.

It’s best that applicants have performed few, if any, significant remedial activities at the site prior to entering the program. This allows the project manager assigned by ADEQ to help find the best remediation solutions, both in terms of time and cost. Though, even fully remediated sites entering the program for final closure review are accepted with the understanding that ADEQ may require additional work if the statutory requirements have not been sufficiently met.

Expenses

Fees and costs for VRP services are governed by the Interim Fee Rule, under 1A.A.C. Title 18, Chapter 7, Article 5, approved February 9, 2001. A $2,000 non-refundable application fee covers the internal ADEQ review to determine site eligibility for VRP.

If the site is accepted, any remaining amount of the $2,000 application fee is automatically applied to oversight costs. Upon acceptance, the volunteer is required to pay a $4,000 deposit, similar to a retainer charged by an attorney. VRP personnel bill at $110 per hour for any work related to the site and those hours are deducted from the site account. Volunteers with active sites receive quarterly account summaries, and if the site account balance falls below $1,000, staff notifies them an additional $4,000 deposit is required. Once remedial activities are completed and the site is closed, any remaining balance in the site account is refunded to the volunteer.

Cleanups

Since its inception by statute in the 1990s, ADEQ’s VRP has overseen the cleanup and closure of more than 200 sites around Arizona. The program currently has more than 60 active sites in various stages of completion, including some that are implementing long-term groundwater remediation — a vital concern in our arid, drought-prone state. Sites range from dry cleaners in strip malls to extensive town cleanups contaminated by historical mining activities. The VRP is qualified to accept and tackle complex sites that involve ADEQ’s air, water and waste programs as well as city, county or state agencies interested in a site’s economic development potential.

A site is eligible to request a No Further Action (NFA) determination from ADEQ once the remedial objectives have been achieved and applicable standards have been met. The request includes a written summary report containing information required by VRP statutes. The volunteer also places a public notice, usually in a local newspaper, announcing a 30-day public comment period (45 days if the site records a Declaration of Environmental Use Restriction) allows the public to review and comment on the NFA request.  Learn more about Declaration of Environmental Use Restriction | View Restrictions > 

Once the public comment period is over, and if there are no objections, the VRP can issue the determination. The NFA determination is contaminant specific, meaning only contaminants that were sampled and analyzed for, at the site are eligible for inclusion.