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Waste and Cleanup Risk Assessment

Federal Facilities Risk Assessment

FFRRO Ecological Risk Topics:


FFRRO Risk Assessment Health Risk Topics:


FFRRO Additional Risk Assessment Topics:

Federal Facility Cleanup

Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Studies

EPA's Risk Assessment Programs:

EPA’s Risk Assessment Portal

View Waste and Cleanup Risk Assessment program-specific resources organized by topic:

Chemical Accident Prevention

Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse

Resource and Conservation Recovery Act


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Federal Facilities Site Information

Federal facilities risk assessments determine the threat levels to human health and the environment at hazardous waste sites that are currently or were previously managed, owned, and/or operated by the Federal government. EPA’s Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) works primarily with the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Energy on cleanup activities of such sites. EPA assists these Federal agencies in managing acceptable risk levels.

Each federal facility site is unique in terms of types and amounts of contaminants and their potential health effects. Therefore, the lead Federal agency responsible for cleanup performs risk assessments on a site-by-site basis and EPA assists such activities. Other Federal agencies use EPA’s Superfund risk assessment methodology for various sites. Risk assessments often occur at the following types of Federal facilities:

  • Federal Facilities National Priorities List (NPL)-or Federal Superfund-sites
  • Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) sites

Federal Facilities National Priorities List (NPL) or Federal Superfund Sites

Human health and ecological risk assessments methodology from EPA’s Superfund program are used for Federal facility NPL sites. Visit the Superfund Risk Assessment web site for information about risk assessments at private superfund sites.

Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Sites

For BRAC facilities that are also NPL sites, procedures follow EPA’s Superfund risk assessment methodology. For non-NPL BRAC sites, which are often Resource and Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) sites, risk assessments are modeled after EPA’s RCRA risk assessment methodology. Visit the RCRA Risk Assessment web site for information.

Remedial Investigations/Feasibility Studies (RI/FS)

After a Federal Facility site is listed on the NPL, a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) is performed at the site. The remedial investigation serves as the mechanism for collecting data to:

  • characterize site conditions;
  • determine the nature of the waste;
  • assess risk to human health and the environment; and
  • conduct treatability testing to evaluate the potential performance and cost of the treatment technologies that are being considered.

The FS is the mechanism for the development, screening, and detailed evaluation of alternative remedial actions.

The RI and FS are conducted sequentially - data collected in the RI influence the development of remedial alternatives in the FS, which in turn affect the data needs and scope of treatability studies and additional field investigations. This phased approach encourages the continual scoping of the site characterization effort, which minimizes the collection of unnecessary data and maximizes data quality.

Documents | External Links


You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

  1. Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund, Volume I
    Part A (1989)
    Part B (1991)
    Part C (1991)
    Part D (1998)
    Part E (2004)
    Part F (2009)
    Supplement to Part A: Community Involvement in Superfund Risk Assessments (1999)
    The purpose of this guidance document is to provide the site team--risk assessor, remedial project manager (RPM), and community involvement coordinator--with information to improve community involvement in the Superfund risk assessment process.

  2. Standard Default Exposure Factors; Supplemental Guidance to Human Health Evaluation Manual. 1991. 17 pp. (EPA) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. OSWER-9285.6-03. Washington, DC. [Available from Superfund Docket]

  3. Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund: Process for Designing and Conducting Ecological Risk Assessments - Interim Final June 1997, EPA 540-R-97-006
    These proposed guidelines are EPA’s first Agency-Wide Ecological Risk Assessment Guidelines. They are broad in scope, providing general principles and providing numerous examples to show how ecological risk assessment can be applied to a wide range of systems, stressors, and biological spatial/temporal scales.

  4. Understanding Superfund Risk Assessment. 1992. 7 pp. (EPA) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. PB9296-3372, OSWER-9285-7-06FS. Fact Sheet. [Available from NTIS, Superfund Docket]

  5. CERCLA Baseline Risk Assessment: Reference Manual. 1995. Approx. 120 pp. (DOE) U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Environmental Policy & Assistance, RCRA/CERCLA Division (EH-413). Washington, D.C. [Available from Center for Environmental Management Information]

  6. Understanding Risk: Informing Decisions in a Democratic Society. 1996. 249 pp. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy Press. Paul C. Stern and Harvey V. Fineberg, editors. [Available from National Academy Press]

  7. Proposed Guidelines for Ecological Risk Assessment
    These Proposed Guidelines are EPA’s first Agency- wide ecological risk assessment guidelines. They are broad in scope, describing general principles and providing numerous examples to show how ecological risk assessment can be applied to a wide range of systems, stressors, and biological/spatial/temporal scales.

  8. Final Report of the Federal Facilities Environmental Restoration Dialogue Committee: Chapter 2- Principles for Environmental Cleanup of Federal Facilities
    This document discusses 14 principles the committee created that should be the basis for making Federal Facility Cleanup decisions.

  9. Improving Federal Facilities Cleanup: Report of the Federal Facilities Policy Group
    This report identifies areas of management and regulatory reform essential to protect public health and restore the environment.

  10. Issuance of Final Guidance: Ecological Risk Assessment and Risk Management Principles for Superfund Sites
    This guidance is intended to help Superfund risk managers make ecological risk management decisions that are based on sound science, consistent across Regions, and present a characterization of site risks that is transparent to the public.

  11. Lead Regulator Policy for Cleanup Activities at Federal Facilities
    This document clarifies roles and minimizes overlapping Federal and state regulatory oversight of cleanups at federal facilities on the National Priorities List (NPL).

  12. Policy on Decommissioning Department of Energy Facilities Under CERCLA
    This policy establishes the approach agreed upon by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) for decommissioning surplus DOE facilities consistent with the requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

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