- What is it?
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) requires that, at least every five years, a review of remedial actions be conducted for all sites where a Decision Document (DD) or Record of Decision (ROD) allows hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants to remain in place above levels that allow for unlimited use or unrestricted exposure (UU/UE) to those hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. The purpose of a five-year review is to evaluate the implementation and performance of a remedy to determine if the remedy is or will be protective of human health and the environment. This requirement applies to cleanup at Army active duty, reserve and guard installations and Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) installations addressed under CERCLA, regardless of National Priority List (NPL) status.
- What has the Army done?
The Army addresses the following questions in a five-year review to assess remedy protectiveness:
- Is the remedy functioning as intended by the decision documents?
- Are the exposure assumptions, toxicity data, cleanup levels, and remedial action objectives used at the time of the remedy selection still valid?
- Has any other information come to light that could call into question the protectiveness of the remedy?
The U.S. Army Environmental Command (USAEC) is the Army program manager for five-year reviews. Each year, USAEC notifies installations which reviews are due in the upcoming fiscal year. Five-year reviews must be completed and signed not less than five years after a selected remedial action has been initiated, and every five years thereafter. The DD/ROD and five-year review due dates are recorded in the Headquarters Army Environmental System (HQAES).
A five-year review must be conducted for those sites where remedial actions do not allow for unlimited use/unrestricted exposure (UU/UE). A review is also required for a site if the remedial action will result in UU/UE but will not achieve it within five years. Generally, all sites on an installation requiring five-year reviews are reviewed concurrently. Separate reviews may be conducted, however, for large or complex sites where operable units (OUs), or groups of OUs, have been treated as individual sites during the remedial process. Installations identify their five-year review requirements in their Cost-to-Complete, Installation Action Plan, and data submissions. The data in HQAES are also used to prepare the Defense Environmental Program Annual Report to Congress (DEPARC).
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Directorate of Environment and Munitions Center of Excellence (EM CX) conducts the five-year reviews for installations funded by the Environmental Restoration, Army (ER,A) account. The Army BRAC division chooses the executor for reviews at BRAC sites. The EM CX provides quality assurance and tracking for all Army five-year reviews regardless of executor.
Army five-year reviews include background document reviews, a site visit, and a report. The DERP guidance directs the Army to be consistent with the analytical framework found in the EPA document “Comprehensive Five-year Review Guidance” and supplements to that guidance, as directed by DoD and Army policy.
The five-year review report must contain a signed determination by the Installation Commander, or BRAC designee, that a selected remedy is or is not protective of human health and the environment. Copies of the final signed report are placed in the Administrative Record and Information Repository, and provided to the USAEC, EPA and state regulators.
Where active, a Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) /Technical Review Committee (TRC), must be apprised of an upcoming five-year review, including the scope, conclusions reached, and where and when the final report may be viewed. Whether there is an active RAB or not, the installation must announce via newspaper of largest general circulation when a five-year review begins and when it has been completed.
- What does the Army have planned?
The USAEC five-year review program will continue to monitor cleanup progress at each site. When a DD or ROD is signed, a plan will be made to complete the first review five years later as required. USAEC will continue to work with the EM CX and installations on the planning, document gathering, site visits, report preparation and review, and community involvement. This process will continue until a site achieves UU/UE, according to law.
- Why is this important?
Five-year reviews are important for several reasons. First, it helps the public and the Army be aware of cleanup progress and how any issues may have been addressed. Second, it gives the Army an opportunity to look at the cleanup long-term, possibly identifying ways to clean up or use energy more efficiently. Finally, the Army must comply with the CERLCA law and DoD and Army policy and guidance.
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