Transforming CT’s Cleanup Regs. – Problems and Opportunities

There is a consensus among stakeholders working with Connecticut’s environmental cleanup programs that change is needed. The rigid framework of the Remediation Standards Regulations (RSRs) combined with DEEP’s lack-luster support for the LEP program and a reluctance to accept site-specific risk assessment has resulted in bogged down remediation programs. This regulatory bottle-neck may be contributing to the slow the pace of the state’s economic recovery.

Under CEEP Commissioner Dan Esty’s vision and Graham Steven’s management, I participated in one of six workgroups set up to tackle questions including: evaluating the effectiveness of the current 16 remediation programs; incorporating liability relief into the remediation system; and surveying successful programs in other states. This was public participation on a grand scale and a great value to state’s taxpayers – six workgroups of 16 people, that’s 96 stakeholders (representing business, industry, legal, environmental groups, consultants/LEPs, and government) contributing their 1,400 years of collective experience to the task of clarifying problems and offering solutions. Each group has met five or six times, and together expended over 3,000 hours of effort in five weeks. At normal billing rates, I’d estimate the professional effort donated to the State of Connecticut during this exercise to be worth over $400,000.

Click on this link to read the Remediation Transformation Work Group reports, see the summary of the problem and an attempt at proposed solutions.

Common threads that run through the workgroup recommendations include:
1. The current system is not working in a manner that benefits the citizens; the Transfer Act is particularly problematic and needs to be fixed.
2. Moving to a unified system has clear benefits.
3. A revised system needs to have site specific risk-based on-ramps and exit points.
4. Other states have successful risk-based models to emulate.
5. Incentives must be included to help unclog the system, protect the environment and re-vitalize the real estate market.

Don’t let Connecticut’s best value go unread. Download the six reports to your Kindle and read up on them this weekend. In a future post, I’ll key – out sections which I found illuminating. Do you have experience with other programs in other states that work well to remediate sites to a reasonable and risk-based level of protection of public health and the environment? Now is the time to have your voice heard. The public comment period on the reports ends on November 7. The DEEP is inviting comment at .