The Division of Environmental Quality began yesterday a series of public outreach and training for the newly developed program called Voluntary Response Program or VRP.
VRP offers the public the opportunity to enter voluntarily into an agreement with DEQ rather than face enforcement action for cleanup activities on properties or sites that have been contaminated or believed to be contaminated with petroleum or other hazardous substances.
The program is aimed at providing a mechanism for environmental cleanup as well as liability protection from DEQ action for the release or threatened release of a harmful substance as specified under the agency's Harmful Substance Regulation.
“VRP gives you that option to work directly with DEQ and receive proper guidelines on how to proceed with the cleanup of the contaminated sites rather than face enforcement action which is a lot more restrictive,” Ray S. Masga, DEQ program manager for Site Assessment and Remediation Branch, said in an interview Tuesday.
Masga said the VRP works following a flowchart set up by DEQ, which begins with the submission of VRP application and payment and ends with the issuance of a letter of completion and a covenant not to sue following the successful completion of the program.
He said any owner or prospective owner who wants to clean up a site or property that has been contaminated with petroleum or hazardous substances is eligible to take part in the VRP. Site contamination includes oil spills, hazardous chemical discharges, and underground storage tank leaks.
However, there are three conditions of affected facilities or sites that do not qualify with the VRP: a facility/site subject to a planned or ongoing federal removal action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act or CERCLA; a facility/site listed on the CERCLA National Priorities List or is proposed for listing; or a facility/site subject to a unilateral administrative order, court order, administrative order, consent or judicial consent decree issued or entered into by DEQ or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Yesterday's VRP public outreach and training was conducted at the Tinian Public Library. A similar training will be conducted at the Rota Mayor's Office today from 1pm to 3pm and on Saipan at the DEQ main conference room in Gualo Rai on Monday, June 25, also from 1pm to 3pm. All trainings are free to the public.
“Because we just started, we're getting the word out to the community so that potential responsible parties become aware that there is this kind of opportunity and that they can learn about the VRP first hand,” Masga told Saipan Tribune.
For more information, visit DEQ or log on to www.deq.gov.mp or call 671-664-8500.