New Act 2 Cleanup Standards

December 20, 2021
Michael M. Meloy, Esq. and Will Hitchcock, Technical Consultant

On November 20, 2021, new regulations implementing the Pennsylvania Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act (Act 2) went into effect through publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, including a new set of risk-based cleanup standards for soil and groundwater.  Significant changes to the cleanup standards include the addition of standards for three perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): perfluourooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and pefluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS).  The updated cleanup standards now also include a standard for total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in addition to the aroclor-specific values.  The soil cleanup standards for benzo[a]pyrene, a ubiquitous contaminant that is commonly encountered in populous areas of Pennsylvania, have become substantially less stringent.  For example, the most stringent residential soil standard has increased from 0.58 to 4.2 mg/kg.  The Act 2 Cleanup Standards are incorporated by reference in PADEP’s Management of Fill Policy, and so these changes have broad implications for construction projects throughout the state, outside of the Act 2 Program.

These changes, among others, were adopted by the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board and proposed for public comment on February 15, 2020.  However, the proposed changes to the cleanup standards for lead required significant additional review by PADEP and the Cleanup Standards Scientific Advisory Board (CSSAB) because of the unique way in which lead exposures and heath risks are quantified.  This effort is further complicated by the divergent approaches currently being recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  As a result of these issues, revisions to the cleanup standards for lead have been deferred to a separate rulemaking effort that is proceeding with high priority.

PADEP and CSSAB are also working in parallel on revisions to the cleanup standards for vanadium and certain Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) with cancer potencies assessed relative to benzo[a]pyrene.  These revisions are expected to result in significant increases to the cleanup standards for vanadium, with the most stringent residential soil standard currently anticipated to increase from 15 to 1,100 mg/kg.  These revisions are also expected to result in moderate increases to certain PAH cleanup standards and toxicity values.

Through our continued involvement with the CSSAB, we will continue to track these rulemaking efforts until they are finalized.  If you would like to learn about the recent or upcoming changes to the cleanup standards, or how they may benefit your remediation, redevelopment, or construction project, please contact Will Hitchcock, Michael M. Meloy, Jonathan Spergel, Darryl Borrelli, or Michael Nines, P.E., LEED AP or 484-430-5700.