Once a site has been accepted and enters the DSCA Program, information is available about what happens next like prioritization, assessment, remediation, invoices, how a property can be used, sold, refinanced or redeveloped.
After site certification, the project is assigned to a DSCA project manager and one of the program’s independent state-contracted environmental engineering firms. The DSCA project manager and contractor will review all existing reports and data to develop a work plan to conduct the first work at the site, known as a prioritization assessment. Typically, this initial work plan will be completed within 2-3 weeks of the site being certified.
The DSCA program uses a scoring system to assign a priority score to each site in the program. A priority score will be determined based on the results of the prioritization assessment and will be updated annually with any new information. The priority score helps determine how best to spend the monies in the DSCA Fund to ensure that the higher priority sites where human health and safety is threatened receive enough funding. Prioritization does not mean that lower priority sites will not be addressed at all, but if funding changes, it may take longer for them to be assessed and moved to closure (no further action).
An assessment of the site will be done to determine where contamination might be and if there are any potential risks to human health and the environment. The DSCA project manager and contractor will work with all parties to do the work at times that are convenient and in locations that will not interfere with business activities or use of the property. Assessment work may consist of the collection and analysis of soil, groundwater, surface water, soil gas or indoor air samples and will require multiple visits to the site.
The initial assessment, known as a prioritization assessment, will typically focus on contamination on the dry-cleaner property and immediately adjacent properties. The prioritization assessment is generally completed 3-6 months after the site is certified. Using information from the prioritization assessment, a decision will be made if further assessment is necessary or if there are any potential risks to human health or the environment. Assessment work is done in a ‘step-wise’ manner where data and information gathered from the previous work helps guide the next phase. Generally, most sites have the assessment phase completed within the first year or two of being in the program but more complex sites may take more time.
Tip: The assessment phase often involves attempting to gain access from adjacent properties to collect samples on a voluntary basis. The process of gaining access can significantly increase the amount of time needed for site assessment.
The typical process of assessment and remediation/mitigation is shown below.
If necessary, the DSCA program will remediate or conduct an ‘interim action’ to address contamination at the site and any adjacent properties that may be impacted. The DSCA program is ‘risk-based’, which means actions like remediation/mitigation are based on whether or not contamination poses a potential threat to human health or the environment. Most sites will not require remediation/mitigation since the contamination levels are often low enough that it does not pose a risk to human health or the environment. Based on program statistics, remediation/mitigation may be necessary at approximately 15-20% of all sites that have entered the DSCA program.
If remediation/mitigation is necessary, the DSCA program will work closely with you and any tenants/occupants to explain what will be done and when. Impacts to the property and disruptions to business activities will be minimized to the extent possible. The property will be returned to pre-remediation conditions whenever possible. For example, if soil is excavated in a parking lot, the asphalt or concrete will be replaced to restore the parking area. Some typical remediation/mitigation activities include soil excavations, injections of substances into the ground to treat groundwater or the installation of a sub-slab venting system (similar to a radon removal system) to address indoor air concerns.
Tip: It is important that property owners work with DSCA when doing construction or redeveloping the property since these activities may provide an opportunity for DSCA to do remediation with minimal impacts and costs.
Once a year, typically in the fall, the petitioner(s) for the site will receive a letter updating the priority and status of the site. If there is a co-payment amount due, an invoice will also be included with the annual update letter. (See What Does it Cost? for more information on co-payments.) If site conditions have changed, the property will be redeveloped or the property has/will be sold, this is also a good time to notify the DSCA program of any changes.
The DSCA program and its independent contractors are experienced and skilled at working with property owners and tenants to minimize any potential disruptions to the use of the property. However, due to the nature of the assessment and/or remediation work, there will occasionally be machinery and personnel on the site to conduct the work. For example, a drilling rig will be necessary to install monitoring wells for the collection of groundwater samples. If samples need to be collected inside a building on the property, the DSCA contractor will work with all parties involved to conduct the sampling at times and locations that minimize interference with the property or business practices.
Tip: If your property has an active dry-cleaner, they must remain in compliance with environmental laws including DSCA’s Minimum Management Practices in order for the site to remain in the program.
Any property in the DSCA program may be sold, purchased, refinanced or redeveloped at any time. However, the DSCA program requests that they remain informed in any changes to the ownership or plans for the property since it will affect activities being conducted at the site and interested parties may need to be aware of certain issues such as:
- If the site is being redeveloped, there may be areas of contaminated soil that will not be addressed by DSCA but must be managed properly by the redeveloper.
- If there are monitoring wells in the way of any redevelopment, the DSCA program will protect or remove them if we are informed ahead of time.
- If a new building will be constructed, the developer may need to take proper measures to prevent vapor intrusion.
If the property will be sold, you will need to fill out a Notice of Transfer of Ownership form and decide if you will remain as the DSCA petitioner or if the new owner will become the petitioner. The DSCA program highly recommends that the new owner become the petitioner since we will need their cooperation regarding access to the site and agreeing to land-use restrictions when the site is closed. The DSCA paperwork completed by the petitioner cannot be transferred to a new owner. If the new owner decides to become the petitioner, they will need to go through the entire application process starting with submittal of a DSCA Petitioner Questionnaire and will be required to pay the $1,000 application fee. Any co-pay money that has been paid by a previous petitioner is still credited to the site and will carry over for any future petitioner(s). If there is any unpaid co-pay balance on the site when a new petitioner is taking over for the site, the unpaid balance must be paid by the previous petitioner or the new petitioner prior to the DSCA program continuing work on the site.
Tip: The DSCA program is available to assist with any sale, refinancing or redevelopment of the property by providing correspondence or speaking with interested parties or lenders that need additional information.