Corrective Action Environmental Indicators
While the ultimate goal of RCRA Corrective Action is to achieve final cleanups, EPA measures the near-term success of the program using Environmental Indicators (EIs). EPA developed two Environmental Indicators to focus efforts on early risk reduction, risk communication, and resource protection. Measuring and recording progress toward these goals is a top priority for EPA and the states over the next several years.
Two Environmental Indicators
EPA developed two facility-wide "Environmental Indicators" to help monitor progress in achieving these short-term protectiveness goals on a national basis. The two Environmental Indicators (EIs) are called "Current Human Exposures Under Control" and "Migration of Contaminated Groundwater Under Control." In general terms, these measures indicate current "environmental conditions"- whether people are currently being exposed to environmental contamination at unacceptable levels, and whether any existing plumes of contaminated groundwater are getting larger or adversely affecting surface water bodies. EPA is specifically tracking progress in meeting these two Environmental Indicator goals at facilities that EPA considers to warrant attention in the near term.
Environmental Indicators and the Government Performance and Results Act
EPA is also using these two Environmental Indicators to monitor progress in response to the Government Performance and Results Act (for information on the GPRA - see http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/planning/gpra.htm). EPA has set specific GPRA goals for these indicators: by 2008, the states and EPA will verify and document that 95% of the high-priority facilities have "Current Human Exposures Under Control" and 80% will have "Migration of Contaminated Groundwater Under Control." .
Environmental Indicator Evaluations
EPA and the authorized states are responsible for determining whether facilities have achieved the Environmental Indicators. However, EPA and states encourage facilities (or the facility's consultant) to independently conduct an Environmental Indicator evaluation. EPA developed Environmental Indicator guidance to assist regulators and facilities through this evaluation. In some cases, facilities have voluntarily filled out Environmental Indicator forms to "self-assess" their status, and have initiated activities on their own to meet the Environmental Indicators. You can obtain these Environmental Indicator forms at the following EPA national web site: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/correctiveaction/eis/index.htm.
Environmental Indicator Guidance
EPA issued detailed guidance (EPA, 1999) to help those conducting Environmental Indicator evaluations. You can access that guidance at http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/correctiveaction/eis/index.htm. The guidance includes a series of questions and a flow chart to help arrive at one of the following three possible outcomes: YES, the facility has achieved an Environmental Indicator goal; NO, the facility has not achieved an Environmental Indicator goal; or, IN, there is insufficient information available to determine whether or not a facility has achieved an Environmental Indicator goal
Getting to YES
Facilities can meet these goals through a variety of ways. For the Current Human Exposures Under Control Environmental Indicator, a facility should be able to demonstrate that there are no unacceptable human exposures to contamination that can be reasonably expected under current land and groundwater use conditions. For the Migration of Contaminated Groundwater Under Control Environmental Indicator, a facility should be able to demonstrate that contaminant plumes throughout the entire facility are not continuing to get larger or negatively impacting adjacent surface water bodies, and that the facility will monitor groundwater to verify whether the environmental indicator determination remains valid.