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Risk Anal. 2001 Feb;21(1):43-52.

Practical methods for meeting remediation goals at hazardous waste sites.

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  • 1U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8, Denver, CO, USA. Tschulz-golden@worldnet.att.net


Risk-based cleanup goals or preliminary remediation goals (PRGs) are established at hazardous waste sites when contaminant concentrations in air, soil, surface water, or groundwater exceed specified acceptable risk levels. When derived in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency's risk assessment guidance, the PRG is intended to represent the average contaminant concentration within an exposure unit area that is left on the site following remediation. The PRG, however, frequently has been used inconsistently at Superfund sites with a number of remediation decisions using the PRG as a not-to-exceed concentration (NTEC). Such misapplications could result in overly conservative and unnecessarily costly remedial actions. The PRG should be applied in remedial actions in the same manner in which it was generated. Statistical methods, such as Bower's Confidence Response Goal, and mathematical methods such as "iterative removal of hot spots," are available to assist in the development of NTECs that ensure the average postremediation contaminant concentration is at or below the PRG. These NTECs can provide the risk manager with a more practical cleanup goal. In addition, an acute PRG can be developed to ensure that contaminant concentrations left on-site following remediation are not so high as to pose an acute or short-term health risk if excessive exposure to small areas of the site should occur. A case study demonstrates cost savings of five to ten times associated with the more scientifically sound use of the PRG as a postremediation site average, and development of a separate NTEC and acute PRG based on the methods referenced in this article.

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