I have discussed in previous articles the ongoing process by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) to develop/implement a West Virginia Voluntary Land Stewardship Program (VLSP) in West Virginia. As discussed previously, the VLSP would be a “comprehensive integrated system for implementing, monitoring, tracking, and protecting institutional and engineering controls” at sites that have been closed in West Virginia. In addition to sites closed under the Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP), the WVDEP envisions that sites closed under a range of regulatory programs, such as the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST), Landfill Closure Assistance Program (LCAP), RCRA Corrective Action, Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and mining programs could eventually be managed under a VLSP. A “Trust” would be established that would have fiduciary responsibilities for managing funds that would be placed into the Trust by the entity responsible for any long-term institutional and/or engineering controls required to close the site. At present, it is envisioned that the VLSP would be a non-profit charitable trust that would continue into perpetuity.
As part of the process of developing/implementing a VLSP, the WVDEP early in 2009 established a stakeholders group, which is referred to as the Institutional Controls (IC) Work Group, to assist it in this process. The IC Work Group consists of various stakeholders from trade associations, industry, and government, which has been working with the WVDEP and its contractors. The most recent meeting of the IC Work Group with the WVDEP and its contractors was on September 23, 2009. This was the fifth meeting of the IC Work Group since its inception earlier this year.
Although, a number of significant questions still remain, the process is now far enough along that the WVDEP is planning on moving forward with a pilot program to further test the concept of a VLSP during 2010. As of this most recent IC Work Group meeting, it appears that two former industrial sites and three former municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills will be entered into the pilot program in 2010. The former industrial sites are currently owned by private industry and the former MSW landfills are currently managed by the WVDEP under its Landfill Closure Assistance Program (LCAP). To facilitate the pilot program, the WVDEP envisions establishing the charitable trust during the first half of 2010. Each applicant to the VLSP, including the WVDEP, will enter into a contract with the VLSP for the provision of various post-closure activities that will be performed by the VLSP during the pilot program period, which is anticipated to be for one year. The range of post-closure services will likely consist of the following activities:
· Annual certification of compliance with any land use covenants.
· Operation of any treatment or remediation systems (e.g., groundwater remediation or landfill leachate collection).
· Performance of monitoring and/or maintenance activities (groundwater monitoring, grass cutting, asphalt pavement repair).
· Preparation of monitoring and/or maintenance reports and submittal to the WVDEP.
At the end of the pilot program, the results will be evaluated by the IC Work Group and the WVDEP, and recommendations will be prepared regarding the viability of the implementation of a full-scale VLSP.
This article was authored by Greg Tieman, Acacia Environmental Group LLC. For more information on the author see here.