Opening door for some Good Samaritans
September 26, 2007
For more on the EPA’s Good Samaritan initiative, go to http://www.epa.gov/goodsamaritan
LEADVILLE ” In lieu of fundamental reform, the Environmental Protection Agency has tried to open the door at least for partial cleanups with its own Good Samaritan initiative.
“We’re trying to leverage the authority we already have, said Colleen Gillespie, with the agency’s water quality program.
The idea is to facilitate cleanups by non-liable volunteer parties, while preserving the “polluter pays” principle, Gillespie said. Even if a community volunteer group can’t directly tackle discharge from an abandoned mine, the EPA program can help accelerate partial cleanups, Gillespie said.
The process involves working with the agency to develop a clear-cut work plan, including financial bonding for the work.
Once the framework is in place, the EPA issues a “comfort letter” that includes a “permit shield,” Gillespie said. That includes exemptions from certain types of required permits, like storm water runoff permits, she added.
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By pulling the Department of Justice into the process, the EPA can offer some protection from third party lawsuits. And the cleanup agreement can, in some circumstances, include an EPA determination that the attainment of water quality standards may not be practical, Gillespie explained.
The EPA program and process she described may be used for a planned local remediation project at the Pennsylvania Mine, in the Peru Creek drainage.