Voluntary Action Program

Gives individuals a way to investigate possible environmental contamination, clean it up if necessary and receive a promise from the State of Ohio that no more cleanup is needed.

The VAP minimizes governmental red tape and maximizes resources and expertise in the private sector. If someone wants to clean up a piece of property, it may be done following specific standards developed by Ohio EPA.

When cleanup requirements are met, the director of Ohio EPA issues a covenant not to sue. This covenant protects the property owner or operator and future owners from being legally responsible to the State of Ohio for further investigation and cleanup. This protection applies only when the property is used and maintained in the same manner as when the covenant was issued.

Announcements/Highlights

July 2018

July 9, 2018
  • ORC Section 3746.17(B) requires Ohio EPA to conduct audits of at least 25 percent of the NFA letters issued during the calendar year previous to the year in which the audits are conducted. VAP properties audited may be selected from either the “random audit pool” or the “discretionary audit pool”, as defined in Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Rule 3745 300 14. Listed below are the properties that DERR-VAP has selected to audits of NFA letters that were issued in 2017. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Sydney Poole at 614-644-3751 or Sydney.Poole@epa.ohio.gov.

    NFA Name District Audit Pool
    17NFA679 East Broadway Industrial Warehouse NWDO Discretionary
    17NFA682 Waynetowne Plaza Shopping Center SWDO Discretionary
    17NFA683 Orlando Bakery/Van Dorn, Cleveland NEDO Discretionary
    17NFA690 Nalco Diversified Technologies Inc, Chagrin Falls NEDO Random
    17NFA695 AMETEK Industrial Products, Kent NEDO Random
     

Archived Announcements/Highlights

August 21, 2017
  • The Agenda for the upcomming VAP Summer 2017 CP Coffee is now available.

March 16, 2017
  • Ohio EPA is seeking stakeholders to participate in a VAP Advisory Group. This group will engage with the agency to explore what works well with the VAP as well as what can be improved. Topics of interest include:

     

    • New ideas to better ensure the long-term protectiveness of properties receiving a CNS

    • Responsibilities and duties of VAP CPs

    • Changes to incentivize continued use of the VAP by developers and volunteers

    • Recommendations for VAP rule revisions

     

    Click here for more information about the VAP Advisory Group and how to participate. If you have any questions please contact Martin Smith, VAP Manager.

May 27, 2016
  • The Division of Environmental Response and Revitalization (DERR) is rescinding aspects of its guidance document titled, “Sample Collection and Evaluation of Vapor Intrusion to Indoor Air for Remedial Response and Voluntary Action Programs (May 2010).” DERR considers Chapter 10 (Data Evaluation) and Chapter 11 (Modeling the Vapor Intrusion Pathway) to be out of date and are no longer considered appropriate guidance for projects seeking cleanup under any of DERR’s programs. Until DERR has the opportunity to revise these chapters or issue new guidance, it is appropriate to rely on U.S. EPA’s guidance document titled, “Technical Guide for Assessing and Mitigating the Vapor Intrusion Pathway from Subsurface Vapor Sources to Indoor Air (June 2015)” and U.S. EPA’s Vapor Intrusion Screening Level (VISL) calculator.
May 26, 2016
  • The 2016 VAP Rule revisions became effective on May 26th. For more information about the new rules, click here.
December1, 2015
November 13, 2015
  • The 2015 Winter SABR News edition is now available. Topics include: Stark County Port Authority - Former Alliance Community Hospital Project, Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant, Federal Grant Opportunities, Piqua Brownfield Funding Workshop, Interested Party Review - VAP Draft Rules, CP Annual Training, and Courses Approved for PDHUs.
September 15, 2015
  • The Call for Presentations for the 2016 Ohio Brownfield Conference is now open. Submittals must be received no later than November 30, 2015. The 2016 Ohio Brownfield Conference will be at Hilton Columbus/Polaris on April 6-7, 2016.
August 26, 2015

***This updates and replaces an announcement previously posted on July 23, 2015.

  • This June, US EPA, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) issued final guidance for the evaluation of vapor intrusion to indoor air (US EPA VI guidance). The US EPA VI guidance, similar to DERR’s 2010 VI guidance, emphasizes a “multiple-lines of evidence” approach when evaluating the VI pathway. US EPA refers to the Vapor Intrusion Screening Level (VISL) Calculator as the preferred frontline screening methodology, and de-emphasizes reliance on mathematical models, the use of which is included in DERR’s 2010 VI guidance. This has led to some confusion on which tool to use to screen out the VI pathway or evaluate compliance with applicable standards for VAP.

    DERR has reviewed the new federal guidance for application when evaluating sites under our cleanup programs. For Remedial Response and RCRA sites, we are recommending use of the US EPA VI guidance for VI investigations, along with some aspects of the DERR’s 2010 VI guidance. For more specific information, please contact the appropriate program. Similarly, for VAP, we advise the use of the VISL Calculator for screening, with emphasis on further sampling (soil gas and indoor air) if site concentrations exceed screening levels. Mathematical modeling, which is permitted under the VAP rules, may have utility but should be evaluated on a site-specific basis. With respect to the Johnson and Ettinger model for vapor intrusion to indoor air specifically, the appropriateness of using this model has been called into question. However, no further action letters that include VI demonstrations may continue to rely on mathematical modeling conducted in accordance with the VAP rules and DERR’s 2010 VI guidance until such time the guidance is updated. We also strongly recommend you consult with the program if you have a project with VI issues, especially if you have or would like to rely upon VI modeling.
April 14, 2015
  • The 2015 Spring SABR News is now available. Topics included in this issue: Youngstown Urban Core Redevelopment, Katie Courtright Joins Ohio EPA, Summit County Background Report, Planning Underway for 2016 Ohio Brownfields Conference, and more!
November 28, 2014
November 7, 2014
  • The 2014 Winter SABR News issue is now available. Topics inluded in this issue: U.S. EPA Opens FY15 Brownfield Grant Round, Brownfield Funding Workshops, Recent CP Trainings, SABR Staff Changes, Chardon Rubber Company Cleanup and Redevelopment, and Courses Offered for PDHUs
October 20, 2014
  • U.S. EPA is opening their FY2015 Brownfield Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup (ARC) Grant round by the end of October. If you are submitting an application/proposal for one of these grants you will need a State Support Letter. Instructions on how to obtain a State Support Letter can be found here.
August 1, 2014
July 31, 2014
  • New Lab Certification applications for 2014 have been posted and can be found here.
February 18, 2014
  • View the latest pre-approved courses, webinars, and archived webinars for PDHU credits!
January 27, 2014
  • Effective January 22, 2014, ALS Environmental (CL0022) of Cincinnati, Ohio received certification for the analysis of Mercury on soil vapor and air. Please contact ALS Environmental for more information.
November 14, 2013
October 1, 2013
September 6, 2013
August 16, 2013
  • Submit your presentation proposal for the 2014 Ohio Brownfield Conference. Submittals for this Call for Presentations must be received no later than the close of business on November 15, 2013. Presentations submitted after that date will not be considered for the conference.
August 15, 2013
  • Save the Date!  The 2014 Ohio Brownfield Conference is scheduled for April 9-10 at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel. Visit our Ohio Brownfield Conference website for more info!
July 1, 2013
June 20, 2013
June 12, 2013
May 30, 2013
  • View our new Summaries of CNS Projects web page. Find summaries of covenants not to sue (CNSs) issued by Ohio EPA in recent years, including historical use, types of contamination, applicable standards, remedies or land use restrictions, any state cleanup funds received, plans for redevelopment and photos.
April 18, 2013
April 12, 2013
  • The Clean Ohio Brownfield Revitalization Fund programs have leveraged over $10.00 of investment per grant dollar through the redevelopment of over 380 former commercial and industrial properties.If you have a project and would like to discuss funding opportunities please contact the JobsOhio Network Partner for your area.
September 3, 2012

Certification

Financial Assistance/Incentives

Technical Assistance (TA)

Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) Track

U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA have entered into a Superfund and RCRA Memorandum of Agreement for the Voluntary Action Program, called the “MOA Track.” The MOA Track requires volunteers to follow the existing procedures for VAP sites and conduct additional steps. The MOA Track includes more agency involvement, such as notice of entry into the program, approval of certain documents and works plans, and greater public involvement. Participants who conduct these additional steps have the added comfort of knowing that the cleanup is being conducted under a program that the U.S. EPA has reviewed and determined to be adequate.

Memorandum of Agreement for the VAP

“MOA Track” Information

MOA Track Documents

Cover Letter: [.pdf]
FORM #1: Procedures for Participation (July 2015) [.pdf] [.doc]
Notice of Entry Documents:
FORM #2: Document Repository Guidance (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
FORM #3: Notice of Entry into the VAP MOA Track (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
FORM #4: Public Notice of Entry into the VAP MOA Track (template) (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
FORM #5: Notice of VAP Technical Assistance Program and Volunteer's Agreement to Comply (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
FORM #5a: Notice of VAP Technical Assistance Program and Volunteer's Agreement to Comply - Grant Funded MOA (March, 2017) : [.pdf] [.doc]
FORM #6: Acknowledgment of Entry Letter (example) (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
Initial Investigation Documents:
FORM #7: Initial Eligibility Determination (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
FORM #8: Phase I Property Assessment (July 2010) *** RESCINDED
FORM #9: Phase II Sampling Plan Guidance (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
FORM #10: Property Inspection Guidance for Ohio EPA Personnel (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
FORM #11: Initial Investigation Comment Letter (example) (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
FORM #12: Initial Investigation Approval Letter (example) (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
Phase II Property Assessment Documents:
FORM #13: Phase II Property Assessment (July 2010) *** RESCINDED
FORM #14: Phase II Property Assessment - Ground Water (July 2010) *** RESCINDED
Risk Assessment & Remedial Action Work Plan Documents:
FORM #15: Property-Specific Risk Assessment (July 2010) *** RESCINDED
FORM #16: Remedial Action Work Plan (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
FORM #17: Guidance for Content of an Operation and Maintenance Plan (July 2010) *** RESCINDED
FORM #18: Public Notice of Remedial Action Work Plan (template) (July 2010) [.pdf] [.doc]
Note: Grant technical assistance may be available to public entities.
(Example Grant Technical Assistance Request Letter)

USDs and Other Director Approvals Prior to Issuance of NFA Letter

NFA Information, Process & Procedures

Post-CNS Compliance and Remedy Revision

VAP Fees

Voluntary Action Program Fee Schedule
effective August 1, 2014
Fee as of August 1, 2014
No Further Action Letters submitted for a covenant not to sue - no environmental covenant $15,700.00
No Further Action Letters submitted for a covenant not to sue - includes an environmental covenant $18,200.00
No Further Action letters submitted for a covenant not to sue - memorandum of agreement track - no environmental covenant $10,000.00
No Further Action letters submitted for a covenant not to sue - memorandum of agreement track - includes an environmental covenant $12,500.00
Pre and post No Further Action Letter technical assistance requests. For example: variances, case-by-case determinations, urban settings designation requests, deligent effort requests, operation and maintenance reviews, risk management plan reviews, remedy change notice reviews and other activities listed in OAC 3745-300-03(E) Charged through technical assistance account

How do I take a site through the Voluntary Action Program?

Download the VAP fact sheet [.PDF]

Benefits of the VAP

Ohio recognized the need to remove the environmental and legal barriers that stalled redevelopment and reuse of contaminated properties. Now anyone can undertake a cleanup project and be assured it meets environmental standards without direct oversight from Ohio EPA. The VAP minimizes governmental red tape and maximizes resources and expertise in the private sector. If someone wants to clean up a piece of property, it may be done following specific standards developed by Ohio EPA.

Certified Professionals and Laboratories

The VAP maximizes resources and expertise in the private sector by utilizing qualified, experienced professionals such as engineers and scientists who are certified by Ohio EPA. These certified professionals (CPs) are responsible for verifying properties are cleaned up to the levels required by the program rules. The detailed program rules allow these qualified professionals and the volunteer that he or she represents to do the work without ongoing Agency involvement.

Ohio EPA operates a certification program to ensure that only environmental professionals with the appropriate qualifications and experience are licensed as CPs. In addition, to help ensure high-quality work, CPs must meet annual continuing education requirements and be recertified by Ohio EPA each year. Information about CPs can be found here: http://epa.ohio.gov/derr/volunt/certification/cpapp.aspx

To ensure high-quality laboratory data, Ohio EPA also certifies laboratories that test environmental samples that support voluntary cleanups. Before any certification is issued, Ohio EPA conducts an evaluation of the laboratory’s documents and staff in order to determine its qualifications for certification. This evaluation includes a detailed technical review of all laboratory documents associated with an application and an on-site inspection to assess analysts’ skills and knowledge in conducting the analyses. Information about certified laboratories can be found here: http://epa.ohio.gov/derr/vap/pro_lab/labs.aspx

No Further Action Letter

When a CP determines after site investigation and any necessary cleanup that the property meets the standards contained in the program rules (OAC Chapter 3745-300), he or she can prepare a No Further Action (NFA) letter. This document describes the environmental problems found at the site, how those environmental problems were investigated and how the site was cleaned up.

The NFA letter includes a Phase I property assessment report that contains information concerning the CP’s investigation of the historical and current uses of the property. This information allows the CP to determine whether or not there is a reason to believe that a release of hazardous substances or petroleum has or may have occurred at the property.

If there is reason to believe a release has occurred and the site may be contaminated, a Phase II property assessment is then conducted. The Phase II assessment includes collecting soil, ground water, surface water and sediment samples from the site as necessary. The Phase II assessment ensures that all potential contaminants identified in the Phase I assessment are adequately evaluated and compared to the appropriate VAP cleanup standards. If the Phase II assessment indicates that cleanup standards are met and the site is protective of human health and the environment, the CP will determine that the voluntary cleanup is completed and prepare the NFA letter.

If the Phase II assessment indicates that more action is needed to meet the standards, additional remedial activities will occur to make the site protective of human health and the environment. Remedial activities may include things such as soil removal, ground water treatment, barriers to the contamination such as a clay or asphalt cap, or placing limitations on future use of the property.

If volunteers want assurance that U.S. EPA will also not ask for additional cleanup, they need to implement the additional steps outlined in the agreement negotiated by Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA. These additional steps include direct oversight of investigation and cleanup activities by Ohio EPA and opportunities for public review of site documents as they are produced by the volunteer. For details regarding the memorandum of agreement track, see: http://epa.ohio.gov/portals/30/vap/docs/MOA%20Track.pdf

Through technical assistance, Ohio EPA can assist volunteers with any questions they have regarding their participation in the VAP. Since the VAP relies on user fees to help support the program, volunteers must pay for the Agency’s assistance. Although some volunteers receiving technical assistance submit NFA letters, many volunteers conduct work in accordance with Ohio EPA’s advice but do not submit an NFA letter. Even if a volunteer does not submit an NFA letter, VAP rules and technical assistance can be used for cleanup and redevelopment of those properties.

Covenant Not to Sue

If the volunteer wants a legal release from Ohio, the certified professional submits the NFA letter to Ohio EPA for review. VAP technical staff reviews NFA letters submitted to the Agency to determine if program standards are met and that the site is protective of public health, safety and the environment. When cleanup requirements are met, the director of Ohio EPA issues a covenant not to sue. This covenant protects the property owner or operator and future owners from being legally responsible to the State of Ohio for further investigation and cleanup. This protection applies only when the property is used and maintained in the same manner as when the covenant was issued. A list of all the NFA letters received by the Agency and their status can be found here: http://epa.ohio.gov/Portals/30/vap/docs/nfa_table1.html

A covenant is recorded in the county recorder’s office and transfers with the title of the property to a new owner. Restrictions on how a property may be used are filed along with the property’s deed in the county recorder’s office before a covenant is issued by Ohio EPA. When a covenant is issued or denied by the director, a notice is published in the local newspaper to inform nearby residents and other interested parties. Covenant issuances and denials can be appealed to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission.

Ohio EPA audits at least 25 percent of the properties taken through the VAP annually to ensure that sites have been properly addressed and that CPs and laboratories performed work properly. All documents related to the voluntary action may be examined by Ohio EPA during an audit. During the audit, Ohio EPA may also conduct on-site sampling to verify compliance with cleanup standards. Volunteers may lose their covenants if problems identified in an audit are not corrected. CPs and laboratories who have conducted work under the VAP may be civilly or criminally penalized for violating agreements and falsifying or withholding information.

Public Participation

All information provided to Ohio EPA about sites in the VAP is available to the public. This includes all the information provided by companies asking for technical assistance before submitting an NFA letter, and all the documentation included in an NFA letter, as well as all Agency comments. At any time during the NFA letter review process, the public can request and receive any cleanup document from Ohio EPA. In addition, each NFA letter must include a list of all the data, information and documentation relied on to conduct the voluntary action, even if the data is not included as part of the NFA letter submittal. This information is also available to the public upon request.

Though the law protects the volunteer from having any of this documentation used in any civil or administrative proceeding, it does not allow the volunteer to claim any of the information produced in connection with a voluntary action to be confidential or to alter any of the public’s rights to receive access to these documents.

Contact

For more information about the program, visit the VAP web page or contact Kelly Kaletsky or call (614) 644-2304.

How do I become a VAP certified professional?

Download the fact sheet [.PDF]

Introduction

Ohio’s Voluntary Action Program (VAP) was created to give businesses and property owners a way to investigate possible environmental contamination due to hazardous substances or petroleum releases, clean up the property if necessary and receive a covenant not to sue (CNS); that is, a release from the State of Ohio that no more cleanup is needed.

The VAP maximizes resources and expertise in the private sector by using qualified, experienced professionals such as engineers and scientists certified by Ohio EPA as certified professionals (CP). To ensure high quality laboratory data, Ohio EPA also designates qualified laboratories as certified laboratories (CL) to test environmental samples which generate data used to support environmental cleanups.

The objectives of this fact sheet are to describe who may qualify as a CP and to explain what documentation must be submitted by a professional seeking to participate in the VAP.

Who Qualifies?

A person must meet the following criteria to be eligible to become a CP. The individual must:

  • hold a bachelor’s degree from a recognized school in biology, chemistry, an appropriate area of engineering, geology, hydrogeology, toxicology, environmental sciences, the scientific sub-disciplines of public health, hazardous waste management or other equivalent curriculum acceptable to Ohio EPA;

  • have eight years of professional experience related to cleanup work. Of the eight years, three years must have been spent as a supervisor or project manager. A relevant master’s degree can substitute for up to one year of experience, and a doctorate can substitute for up to two years;

  • possess good moral character, as testified to by references under affidavit;

  • possess the professional competence and knowledge to perform the tasks required of a certified professional; and

  • take the initial training offered by Ohio EPA within one year prior to submitting a certification application.

Application Requirements

A person wishing to be considered for participation in the VAP must submit the following information and documentation by affidavit:

  • completed application with signed affidavit;

  • original transcripts of degree from a recognized educational institution;

  • six completed reference forms;

  • documentation of attendance at the initial training; and

  • record of payment of the initial professional certification fee, as established in OAC 3745-300-03.

The application and documentation must be mailed to:

Voluntary Action Program
Ohio EPA / DERR
50 West Town Street, Suite 700
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, OH 43216-1049

 

Payment Required

In addition to the application requirements, a person wishing to participate in the VAP as a CP must submit a payment of $2,500 payable to:

Treasurer, State of Ohio

 

The payment should be sent to:

Office of Fiscal Administration
Ohio EPA
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, OH 43216-1049

 

Location of Application/ Rules

Visit the VAP Certified Professional webpage to view or download the application package:
http://epa.ohio.gov/derr/volunt/certification/cpapp.aspx

The rules are available here:
http://epa.ohio.gov/derr/derrrules.aspx

The VAP program technical guidance compendium can be found here:
http://epa.ohio.gov/portals/30/vap/tgc/TGC_Index.pdf

Contact

For more information, contact:

How do I become a VAP certified laboratory?

For information on how to become a VAP certified laboratory, visit DERR's Laboratory Certification Information & FAQ web page, or search through the Laboratory Certification Frequently Asked Questions.

I think there is a contaminated property in my neighborhood. What can I do about it?

First, find out within which Ohio EPA District Office the property you’re concerned about is located (see district map). Once you have determined the district, you should contact the Division of Environmental Response and Revitalization for that district. DERR will be able to let you know whether or not the property is under investigation by Ohio EPA or, if not, can address your concerns about the property.

  • Central Office
    Lazarus Government Center
    50 W. Town St., Suite 700
    P.O. Box 1049
    Columbus, OH 43215
    (614) 644-3020

  • Central District Office
    Lazarus Government Center
    50 W. Town St., Suite 700
    Columbus, OH 43215
    (614) 728-3778
    (800) 686-2330

  • Northeast District Office
    2110 E. Aurora Rd.
    Twinsburg, OH 44087
    (330) 963-1200
    (800) 686-6330

  • Northwest District Office
    347 N. Dunbridge Rd.
    Bowling Green, OH 43402
    (419) 352-8461
    (800) 686-6930

  • Southeast District Office
    2195 Front Street
    Logan, OH 43138
    (740) 385-8501
    (800) 686-7330

  • Southwest District Office
    401 E. Fifth St.
    Dayton, OH 45402
    (937) 285-6357
    (800) 686-8930

Toll-free numbers are for citizens with questions or concerns about environmental issues. The regulated community should use the business line for routine business. Spills and emergencies should be reported to (800) 282-9378.

I want to purchase a property that may be contaminated. How do I find out what problems I might encounter?

If you are looking to purchase a property that may be contaminated, you will want to have an environmental site assessment(s) performed by an experienced environmental consultant. Environmental site assessments are typically conducted in phases, and are used to determine whether a site is contaminated or not. A Phase I environmental assessment is a review of all the records and knowledge associated with the property’s historical record to see if there is the potential for the presence of contamination. If the Phase I indicates there is a potential for contamination, then the assessment of the site proceeds to the next phase. A Phase II involves sampling of the site and will help determine: the extent of contamination; the types and probable sources of contamination the level of risk to humans and the environment associated with the contamination and whether the contamination needs to be cleaned up.

Performing these phased environmental site assessments will give you information to help you determine what kind of additional costs you will incur before you finalize the property purchase. In the case of a property that is contaminated, you want to find out how much it is likely to cost to clean it up before you buy it. An environmental site assessment that meets the requirements of the All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) rules (for more information on AAI, visit U.S. EPA's Brownfields website); can limit your liability under the federal Superfund law. In addition, an environmental site assessment conducted in accordance with Ohio EPA’s Voluntary Action Program (VAP) rules can be used as part of a no further action letter (NFA) when requesting a covenant not to sue (CNS) from the state. A VAP CNS, issued by Ohio EPA after a property completes a VAP cleanup, releases the owner (and anyone else with an interest in the property) from any future requirements to conduct additional investigation and cleanup on the property. For more information about the VAP, visit the Voluntary Action Program web page.

     
Shook, Lisa VAP Manager (614) 644-2295
Kaletsky, Kelly VAP Supervisor (614) 644-2304
Funk, Sydney Lead VAP Coordinator (614) 644-3751
     
 
 800-282-9378