Remediation techniques have evolved over the past several decades from removal and containment approaches to in situ technologies (such as injection of oxidants to remediate chemicals in place) and the use of risk-based cleanups. Risk-based cleanup dates back to the earliest federal regulations and guidance documents, including the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP, which was first published in 1968 most recently revised in 1994, and the U.S. EPA’s Risk Assessment for Guidance for Superfund (RAGS), Volume I, published in December 1989. Risk-based approaches rely on an evaluation of exposure pathways and receptors, and the characterization of any risks associated with complete exposure pathways. Risk-based cleanups may utilize some active soil and groundwater cleanup to reduce contamination, but likely also would include the use of Institutional Controls (ICs) to ensure that any residual impacts do not pose a threat to human health and the environment. Common ICs include deed restrictions on property (such as prohibiting residential site use on a property), and environmental ordinances implemented by a government agency (such as a “groundwater ordinance” prohibiting groundwater usage in a designated area). There are some tremendous advantages to risk-based cleanups and the use of ICs, but there are also long-term considerations for the property that need to be understood by all parties involved in a particular project.
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