This section provides oversight of the investigation and cleanup of hazardous environmental contamination. Under both the state and federal hazardous waste laws, all facilities that treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste must investigate and clean up all known or likely releases (spills) of hazardous wastes or materials with hazardous constituents. These requirements were established under the federal Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 (HSWA). HSWA was an expansion of and amendment to the original federal hazardous waste law known as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976. Kentucky was granted final authorization to implement the corrective action program on June 25, 1996 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Corrective action duties can best be described as anything involving or relating to the investigation and management of releases of hazardous constituents to the environment.
Generally speaking, corrective action proceeds from an investigation to a remedial phase. Shortly after entering corrective action, a RCRA Facility Assessment is conducted. The purpose of this investigation is to identify all areas on the contiguous property that were either used for storage or disposal of waste or otherwise may have been areas impacted by the releases of hazardous constituents. These areas are known as Solid Waste Management Units (SWMU) and Areas of Concern (AOC). The units are further assessed by sampling if needed.
Sampling of solids, sediment and groundwater may be performed as confirmatory sampling or a RCRA Facility Investigation. If groundwater is found to have been impacted, the facility is put on a routine sampling schedule. If an imminent threat to human health and /or the environment is identified during these investigations then interim measures may be imposed. This is any measure taken to lessen the detrimental effect on the environment or human health. Often, the interim measures are effective enough to be part of the final remedial measures, known as the Corrective Measures Study and Implementation.
Interim and corrective measures vary based upon the contaminants present, the size of the impacted area, and numerous site specific factors such as structures, depth to groundwater, presence of utility lines, property use, etc. Examples of interim and corrective action measures include solidification, excavation, soil vapor extraction, and groundwater pump and treat. Part of the final remedy for a site may also include management conditions that will run in perpetuity with the property. These include such measures as maintaining a cap over contaminated soil to restricting property use through an environmental covenant.