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Questions and Answers - Contaminated Sediment Remediation Guidance for Hazardous Waste Sites (2005)

QUESTION: What is covered in this guidance?

ANSWER: In general, the guidance focuses on how to evaluate alternative remedies for contaminated sediment, including the three major alternatives of monitored natural recovery, in-situ capping, and dredging. Aspects related to site characterization, risk assessment, modeling, and monitoring of contaminated sediment sites are also addressed.

QUESTION: Why is this guidance needed?

ANSWER: This guidance is designed to help EPA manage sediment sites consistent with CERCLA and the NCP. It encourages Regions to consider a number of factors, such as:

  • Identifying and controlling the sources of sediment contamination and the pathways of contaminant exposure, prior to cleanup;
  • Using a technical team approach, and involving the community and other stakeholders throughout the cleanup process;
  • Considering all three major approaches to management of contaminated sediment (monitored natural recovery, in-situ capping, and dredging), and considering alternatives which combine approaches;
  • Validating models used to support sediment decisions and considering model uncertainty and sensitivity;
  • Considering how contaminated sediment alternatives manage or reduce risks, including consideration of residual risks; and
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of remedies at contaminated sediment sites.

QUESTION: Who is the intended audience for this guidance?

ANSWER: The guidance is written primarily for Superfund and RCRA project managers, including those in other federal agencies and states. Many aspects of the guidance may also be useful to other governmental organizations and potentially responsible parties that may be conducting a sediment cleanup (even when conducted under different regulatory authorities).

QUESTION: Why did EPA solicit public comment on the guidance?

ANSWER: Although not required, EPA solicited public comment because of the widespread interest in cleanup of contaminated sediments from a wide variety of stakeholders including industry, academia, States and local communities.

QUESTION: What did the public comments say?

ANSWER: EPA received public comments from almost 50 parties during the public comment period, including industry, State agencies, Federal agencies, environmental groups, and individuals from the public. All the comments were considered when developing the recommendations in the final guidance. Most comments were supportive of EPAs general approach and offered technical comments and corrections. Some comments suggested that more detail be added concerning risk assessment and site characterization. While some new summary material was added in these areas, the guidance maintains its focus on remedy evaluation and selection.

QUESTION: Can I get a copy of the public comments?

ANSWER: The public comments on the draft guidance are available through Regulations.gov, Docket ID: EPA-HQ-SFUND-2003-0001, or by contacting the Regulations.gov support team at 1-877-378-5457..

QUESTION: Why did EPA conduct a peer review of the guidance?

ANSWER: EPA conducted a peer review to help ensure that the recommended technical approaches are scientifically sound.

QUESTION: What did the peer reviewers say?

ANSWER: A panel of three peer reviewers each independently reviewed the entire guidance, focusing on the charge questions presented to them. All the comments were considered when developing the recommendations in the final guidance. The comments were supportive of EPA's general approach and offered technical comments and corrections. Examples of technical suggestions include:

  • Suggestions for how to better explain cap design and performance standards in terms of exposure and risk;
  • Suggestions for ways to better explain the causes of dredging residuals and a suggested method for prediction;
  • Suggestions to clarify discussion of model uncertainty and sensitivity;
  • Suggestions for clarifying lines of evidence for Monitored Natural Recovery.

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