The Maine Legislature established the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Voluntary Response Action Program (VRAP) almost 25 years ago to encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties within the state.
As described in our June 2017 Hot Topic, we noted that the original VRAP law was being revised by the Legislature with the primary change being an increase in the application fee from $500 to a percentage of the assessed value of the property. Here is an update:
Fee Increase *
S.P. 421 – L.D. 1258, An Act To Modernize the Voluntary Response Action Program Funding Process, has now been signed into law and will become effective on January 1, 2018. The new fee for applying to VRAP is 1% of the assessed value of the property with a fee cap of $15,000. The Maine DEP will no longer charge the applicant for their labor as in the past.
Even modest properties will experience a significant fee increase. For example, a property valued at $250,000 will require a $2,500 application fee.
Maine DEP Inspections
The Maine DEP will also begin inspecting completed VRAP projects that included institutional and/or engineering controls. Examples include deed restrictions, implementing environmental media management plans, maintaining pavement or other types of soil caps, or installing a sub-slab vapor barrier on any new buildings.
The Maine DEP is beginning with the oldest projects that included such controls and are currently completing inspections of VRAP projects completed in the early 2000s. Their goal is to inspect 10% of the VRAP projects per year.
In some cases, the Maine DEP has recommended that the owner complete additional work to improve the VRAP. For example, soil cleanup standards have changed significantly over the years. In many cases the current standard is higher than in the past, so additional work may result in less restrictions.
Self-Reporting the Status of Engineering Controls
Lastly, the Maine DEP is considering a self-reporting program whereby the owner would be required to have periodic inspections of engineering controls by a qualified environmental professional. This type of requirement would likely apply to properties where the remaining contamination is significant and the engineering controls are vital for limiting human exposure.
* There is still time to apply for VRAP under the current fee of $500. To avoid the new fee structure, applications must be submitted on or before December 31, 2017. The VRAP project does not have to be completed by that deadline, only the paperwork for the application needs to be completed by this date in order to avoid the increased application fees that begin in January, 2018.
For more information on VRAP, or to get assistance applying for VRAP prior to end of year, contact Keith Taylor at 207-591-7000 x22.