What’s New with VRAP?

Changes Are Anticipated in the Maine Department of Environmental Protection Voluntary Response Action Program

The Maine Legislature established the Voluntary Response Action Program (VRAP) almost 25 years ago as a way to encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties within the state. 

The VRAP allows applicants to voluntarily investigate and cleanup properties in exchange for possible protections from Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MEDEP) enforcement actions. This program has been very successful in allowing the redevelopment of many properties that would otherwise have remained abandoned or underused. 

Things are changing for VRAP. If proposed legislation passes, the fees will likely increase significantly.  In addition, MEDEP has changed the requirements to close your site, with audits and inspections of institutional controls to occur in the future. 

The recent changes to the VRAP process are as follows:

  • • Engineering and institutional controls are now considered a remediation method. The MEDEP will now issue a No Action Assurance Letter rather than a No Further Action Assurance Letter for this situation.  If only institutional controls are required, the MEDEP will provide a Certificate of Completion (COC) after the letter and deed restriction have been recorded.
  • • If engineering controls are required, the MEDEP now requires applicants to submit an “Environmental Media Management Plan” which must be approved by the MEDEP.  This plan should address the potential risk from all media (soil, groundwater, and vapor) and how institutional or engineering controls minimize these risks.  Planned engineering controls such as vapor barriers beneath a foundation or pavement also must be documented in this plan.  After the approved engineering controls are in place, the MEDEP will issue a COC. 
  • • More COCs are contingent on periodic inspections of engineering controls to ensure they remain in place.  In cases where the risk to human health is high, the MEDEP may require applicants to submit inspection results on a periodic basis.  For those properties where submittal of inspection reports are not required, the MEDEP is developing an audit program to check on those properties to confirm that the engineering controls remain in place.  
  • • Currently there is a bill in the Maine State Legislature advocating fee increases for VRAP applicants. It was recently approved by the Joint Natural Resources Committee with the new fees consisting only of an amount equal to 1% of the assessed property value with a cap of $15,000.

If you’d like to stay up to date on the status of the VRAP bill, or would like assistance with your site, please contact Keith Taylor at 207-591-7000 x22.