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VRP Process Overview

The process consists of six basic elements that take a site from entry to completion in the program:

  • Part 1 application.  The first step required of parties wishing to participate in the Voluntary Remediation Program is to submit a 'Request for Eligibility Determination'. The request  consists of a completed VRP application to include the Phase 1 Registration Fee ($2,000) and any other information that would assist in the eligibility determination. The department will make an eligibility determination in accordance with 9VAC20-160-30 and notify the applicant in writing of DEQ determination.
  • Part 2 Enrollment. Upon concurrence on the site’s eligibility, and submittal of the phase 2 registration  fee, ($7,500) the site will be considered enrolled in the VRP
  • Part 3 - Submittal Requirements. The participant prepares and submits a voluntary remediation report, which consists of a site characterization report, a risk assessment, a remedial action plan, documentation of public notice and a demonstration of completion..  A checklist is available that summarizes the types of information to be included in each submittal.  The checklist can be obtained from the VRP webpage.
  • Part 4 – Remediation Goals. Remediation goals in the VRP may be established based on either background levels or on a risk assessment. Institutional controls (e.g., land use restrictions, ground water use restrictions) may be included in the VRP remediation goals to facilitate closure of a site.
  • Part 5 - Public Participation. An essential requirement of the VRP is public participation. It is intended to provide the public an opportunity to provide comments on the proposed remediation.
  • Part 6 - Certification of Satisfactory Completion of Remediation. If DEQ is satisfied that the objectives of the remedial action plan have been met, the established cleanup standards for the site have been achieved, and migration of contamination has stabilized, the DEQ director issues a certification of satisfactory completion of remediation. The VRP process is then complete. 

Program Requirements

Determination of Eligibility

A potential participant in the Voluntary Remediation Program must first submit a request for eligibility determination. This request consists of a completed application presenting documentation that the site meets the administrative requirements of eligibility according to parameters specified in 9 VAC 20-160-30. The request for eligibility determination also includes information such as operational history, maps, proof of ownership, right of access, identification of contamination, and regulatory jurisdictional analysis. The VRP staff then verifies that the site is eligible by requesting the appropriate DEQ regional office to determine if remediation is mandated under its jurisdiction (primarily waste compliance and petroleum programs). Concurrently, the application is reviewed by the Office of Waste Permitting to determine if there is a closure or corrective action requirement imposed through DEQ's RCRA authorities. Following this review, a determination is made whether the site is eligible for the VRP. The participant is then directed to proceed to the next phase of the VRP, or is notified of the site's ineligibility for the program.

A site that has already been cleaned up may be eligible for the VRP. In this case, remediation activities must be documented as required by VRP regulations, and cleanup levels must be commensurate with VRP criteria. Petroleum releases not mandated for cleanup under Article 9 of the Virginia Water Control Law (petroleum storage tanks) may be eligible for participation in the program. However, if such sites are enrolled in the program, they are not eligible for reimbursement through the Underground Storage Tank/Above Ground Storage Tank Remediation Reimbursement Program.

Registration Fees

 A $2000 Phase 1 registration fee is required at time of application submittal, made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia
Upon determination that the site is eligible, a $7500 Phase 2 Registration fee is then assessed, and is due within 90 days.  Only after receipt of the $7500 enrollment fee, is the site considered enrolled in the VRP.

Following enrollment, on November 1 of each calendar year thereafter, any site participating in the program ( i.e. no certificate issued) on that day shall be assessed a phase 3 registration fee of $4500 if the application on which the eligibility determination was based was received by the department in a calendar year prior to that year.  Payment of the phase 3 registration is due on April 1. 

The above fee schedule does not apply to sites that made application prior to July 2014

Submittal Requirements

The participant prepares and submits to DEQ a Voluntary Remediation Report (Report). The Report shall consist of the following components: a Site Characterization, a Risk Assessment, a Remedial Action Plan, a Demonstration of Completion, and Documentation of Public Notice. Each component of the Report shall be submitted as listed below:

Site characterization.  The Site Characterization component shall provide documentation of the site conditions including the identification and description of each area of concern (or source); the nature and extent of releases to all media, including a map of the onsite and offsite vertical and horizontal extent of contaminants above levels consistent with 9VAC20-160-90; and a discussion of the potential risk or risks posed by the release. If remedial activities have occurred prior to enrollment, this information shall be included.

The Risk Assessment component contains an evaluation of the risks to human health and the environment posed by the release based on site characterization component for both on and offsite properties consistent with  9VAC20-160-90.

The Remedial Action Plan component shall propose the specific activities, a schedule for those activities, any permits required to initiate and complete the remediation, and specific design plans for implementing remediation that will achieve a remediation level consistent with 9VAC20-160-90. Control or elimination of continuing onsite source or sources of releases to the environment shall be discussed. Land use controls and any permits required for the remediation process should be discussed as appropriate. If no remedial action being justified, the Remedial Action Plan shall discuss the reasoning for concluding no action is necessary.

The Demonstration of Completion component shall include the following, as applicable:

  • A summary of the remediation implemented at the site, including a discussion of the remediation systems installed and a description of the remediation activities that occurred at the site.  
  • A summary of how the established site-specific objectives have been achieved, including (i) a description of how onsite releases (or sources) of contamination have been eliminated or controlled, and (ii) confirmational sampling results demonstrating that the remediation level objectives have been achieved and that the migration of contamination has been stabilized. 
  • A description of any site restrictions including, but not limited to, land use controls that are proposed for the certificate. 
  • A demonstration that all other criteria for completion of remediation have been satisfied.  
  • Certification by the participant that activities performed at the site pursuant to the chapter have been in compliance with all applicable regulations. 

Note: It is the participant's responsibility to ensure that investigation and remediation activities are performed in accordance with all applicable and appropriate regulations (e.g., solid or hazardous waste management, erosion and sedimentation control, air emission control, and wetlands and other sensitive ecological habitat protection). Although these may not be required under state or federal law, measures may be necessary to ensure no further release of contaminants and protection of human health and the environment.

Remediation Goals

Use classification

Remediation levels may be based on background (naturally occurring), published risk-based standards or a risk assessment. If a risk assessment is performed, it should consider exposure pathways for current and future land use for levels of contaminants that will remain at the site and in surrounding areas. For more information, review the Voluntary Remediation Program Risk Assessment Guidance. The remediation levels will dictate whether the closure of a VRP site is 'restricted' or 'unrestricted.'
For an unrestricted closure of a VRP site, all media at a site are cleaned up to remediation levels based on either background or standards for residential exposure. No remediation techniques or controls which require ongoing management (such as institutional or engineering controls) may be employed to achieve this classification.
Restricted closures, as the term suggests, involve restrictions on the use of the sites. A description of use restrictions is typically attached to the deed for the property so that future purchasers are aware of them. Restrictions may include, but not be limited to, institutional controls and engineering controls. Examples of institutional controls are restrictions on ground water used, or land use. Engineering controls may include caps or fences. Types of restrictions vary with site conditions, and may be imposed for only a specific media; for example, ground water. The future use of a site with restrictions may be anything from residential to industrial. The restrictions necessary to attain standards for a particular land use are described in the certification of satisfactory completion of remediation.

Remediation Levels

After the site characterization is completed, remediation levels are derived using the three-tiered approach described in the regulations. Any one tier or combination of tiers may be applied to establish remediation levels for contaminants present at a site, as long as site use restrictions discussed above are considered. 

  • Tier I remediation levels are based on background samples collected from portions of the site not impacted by the contaminants of concern.  
  • Tier II remediation levels are based on published, media-specific values, derived using conservative default assumptions.   
  • Tier III remediation levels are based upon a site-specific risk assessment, which considers site-specific assumptions about current and potential future exposure scenarios for population(s) of concern, including ecological receptors, and characteristics of the affected media.  

Public Participation

To comply with the public participation requirements of the voluntary remediation regulations, the participant must complete the following:

  • Provide a notice describing the proposed or completed remedy to the local government where the site is located.
  • Provide the same notice to all adjacent property owners, other owners whose property has been affected by contaminants as determined through the site characterization report.
  • Publish the notice once in a newspaper of general circulation in the area affected by the voluntary action.
  • Provide a 30 day comment period once the notice is issued.
  • Provide documentation to the department of the public notice and any comments received and evaluation of the comments impact on the project.

Note:  Issuance of the public notice may proceed only after the Department has concurred with the Site Characterization Report and the proposed or completed remediation.

For the approved public notice template and additional guidance please click here

Certification of Satisfactory Completion of Remediation

A Certification of Satisfactory Completion of Remediation (Certificate) is issued after a participant satisfactorily demonstrates attainment of the remediation levels with or without the future site use restrictions, migration of contamination has been stabilized and the director concurs with all work submitted. The Certificate contains an outline of conditions under which it is issued. The Certificate typically includes a Declaration of Restrictive Covenants that generally provides:

  • Restrictions on future use.
  • Required institutional controls.
  • Required engineering controls and their maintenance.

The Certificate provides immunity to enforcement actions under the Virginia Waste Management Act (Section 10.1-1400 et seq. of the Code of Virginia), the Virginia State Water Control Law (Section 62.1-44.2 et seq. of the Code of Virginia), the Virginia Air Pollution Control Law (Section 10.1-1300 et seq. of the Code of Virginia), or other applicable Virginia law. The immunity granted by the Certificate is limited to site conditions at the time of issuance, which are described in the Voluntary Remediation Report (i.e., nature and extent of contamination), and is conditional upon completeness and accuracy of the information in that report. Specific limitations of the certificate are enumerated in it.

If a use restriction is specified in the Certificate, the Certificate and Declaration of Restrictive Covenants  must be recorded with the land records in the Circuit Court where the site is located. If the closure is unrestricted, recordation of the Certificate is optional. The immunity accorded by the Certificate applies to the participant, but also 'runs with the land' identified.

A Model Certificate is now available in PDF format. Microsoft Word formatted Model Certificate is also available.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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