Proposed changes in MA hazardous waste regulations - by Susan Bernstein

May 31, 2019 - Front Section
Susan Bernstein

The Mass. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed amendments to the hazardous waste site clean-up regulations, known as the Mass. Contingency Plan (MCP), which are the regulations associated with MGL c. 21E, found at 310.CMR 40.0000 et seq.

The MCP is the operational handbook for environmental reporting and remediation of releases, threats of releases and remediation for oil and hazardous materials. Public hearings will be conducted in locations throughout Mass., with the comment period expiring on July 19.

Among the major proposed amendments are the following: 

• Definitional and terminology changes for: Mitigation measures (exposure, active, and passive); manufactured gas plant waste; liquefied gasses, and radioactive materials.

• Additions of specific standards for Reportable Concentrations and Method 1 standards to be added for the presence of six perfluoroalkyl substances (known as PFAs), for which there is concern about exposure in drinking water, among other sites. 

• Modifications to required public notifications for imminent hazards, critical exposure pathways, and activity and use limitations (AULs), especially with regard to sub-slab depressurization systems (SSDS), used to vent indoor air vapors; and documentation for tier reclassifications.

• Risk assessment changes to: Gardening exposures, exposure point concentrations, hierarchy of toxicity, and imminent hazards. 

• Revisions to 18% of the contamination standards for goundwater and soil that are listed in the MCP, nearly two-thirds of which raise the allowable levels. 

• Coordination among various environmental programs and agencies involving: underground storage tank tightness testing, federal superfund sites, and drinking water. 

• The insertion of “anticipated climate change impacts” into certain remediation processes and outcomes, in order to consider “foreseeable future site conditions.” 

The Amendments will be finalized after the close of the public comment period. Although the adoption of the proposed changes will depend on the feedback, these types of changes are often vetted extensively by the interested public and professional community prior to their initial draft release. As a property owner, developer, municipality and those in the process of conducting remediation, these changes, once officially adopted, should be monitored for your particular situation. 

Susan Bernstein is an attorney at law, Needham, Mass.



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