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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Short-Term Cleanups

Short-term cleanups, also referred to as "removal actions," address immediate threats to public health and the environment, and typically address less complex or less extensive contamination problems than those which require a long-term cleanup. Short-term cleanups may take anywhere from a few days to a few years to complete, depending on the type and extent of contamination. EPA also determines if additional long-term action will be necessary. Locate short-term cleanups in New England.

Not all short-term cleanups are equally urgent. For example, situations involving fire or explosions or imminent, catastrophic contamination of a reservoir may require prompt attention, while certain situations involving abandoned hazardous waste drums or cleanup of abandoned industrial facilities may not.

Steps in the short-term cleanup process include:

  1. Investigate the contamination at the site.

  2. Assess factors that affect the level of risk at the site and determine the urgency of the situation, which is the primary factor used to determine which type of short-term cleanup to conduct. There are three different types of short-term cleanups:

    • Classic Emergencies include those cleanups where the release of hazardous materials requires that on-site cleanup activities be initiated within minutes or hours of determining that a short-term cleanup is appropriate.

      caution symbolTo Report an oil spill or other environmental emergency such as a chemical release, call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.

    • Time-Critical Actions are those cleanups where, based on an evaluation of the site, EPA determines that on-site cleanup activities must be initiated within six months of determining that a short-term cleanup is appropriate. For time-critical actions, EPA conducts an investigation of the contamination and produces an "action memorandum" authorizing and outlining the cleanup process before beginning work.

    • Non-Time-Critical Actions are those cleanups where, based on an evaluation of the site, EPA determines that six months or more is available before on-site cleanup activities must begin. Non-time-critical removal actions require the preparation of an "Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis" (EE/CA). An EE/CA includes a description of the contamination, the threat to human health and the environment that the contamination poses, the objectives of the cleanup, the requirements that need to be met, the alternatives evaluated for addressing the contamination, and a recommended cleanup plan.

  3. Conduct the cleanup and document its completion.

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