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Why Do I need to hire a Licensed Site Professional (LSP)?

What is the role of a Licensed Site Professional (LSP) and why does Massachusetts require the involvement of an LSP during activities at an OHM release site?

Scenario 1: You’ve received a Notice of Responsibility (NOR) from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) informing you that you are a Potentially Responsible Party of an oil and/or hazardous material (OHM) release site and that you need to hire a Licensed Site Professional (LSP) to manage, supervise, or perform the necessary Response Actions at the Site.

Scenario 2: You’ve acquired a property that is an existing “disposal site” or has a newly discovered Reportable Condition and you’ve been told that you need to hire an LSP.

Where does this complicated process start?

The cleanup and closure of OHM release sites in Massachusetts is primarily governed by a set of regulations referred to as the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, or “MCP” (310 CMR 40.0000). The goal for an OHM release site is to “close out” the site by demonstrating that a condition of No Significant Risk and a Permanent Solution have been achieved at the site in accordance with the requirements of the MCP. There are many possible avenues to arrive at this end point. Once a reportable release under the MCP is identified, an LSP is required to help you maintain compliance with the MCP.

Your LSP will use his or her knowledge and experience with the MCP, other applicable regulations, the conditions at your site, and remediation technologies to help you select a pathway to closure that meets your plans for the site while being sufficiently protective of harm to health, safety, public welfare or the environment. In Massachusetts, unlike many other states, the state DEP does not issue “No Further Action” letters; rather, site closure is achieved when the LSP issues a Permanent Solution Statement.

What is an LSP and why do you need to hire one?

LSPs are environmental professionals licensed by the state of Massachusetts to oversee assessment and cleanup activities at a contaminated property. LSPs, on behalf of their clients, must report proposed activities to MassDEP prior to initiating these activities and must submit the outcomes and findings of these activities to MassDEP once the proposed activities are completed. Work conducted by the Responsible Parties under an LSP is subject to audit by MassDEP.  MassDEP has the authority to request additional information and object to any proposed activities.

The role of a Licensed Site Professional was created in the early 1990s. MassDEP did not have sufficient staff or funding at that time to review and approve assessment or cleanup activities in a timely manner, which created a bottleneck as site cleanup activities could not move forward without approval from MassDEP. This bottleneck slowed the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties. As a solution, in 1993, the state created a “privatized” program, which began granting properly qualified individuals the authority, under the LSP license, to propose and oversee assessment and remediation activities under the DEP’s oversight.

LSPs are licensed by the state only after demonstrating that they have at least 8 years of relevant experience and sufficient knowledge and understanding of the regulations and technical aspects of site cleanup and pass a challenging 8-hour examination. To maintain their licenses, LSPs are required to take at least 48-hours of continuing education every three years. This training must be related to applicable regulations and relevant technical issues as approved by the state. The Board of Registration of Hazardous Waste Site Cleanup Professionals (also referred to as the LSP Board,) has established Rules of Professional Conduct (309 CMR 4.00) that all LSPs must follow In order to safeguard the public health, safety, welfare, and the environment and to establish and maintain a standard of professional integrity. If an LSP is not meeting these standards, his or her license can be revoked or suspended by the LSP Board.

How do I Achieve Site Closure?

The vast majority of release sites are closed out within the first year, however, depending on the complexity of the site, the process can take years. The process typically begins with assessment activities to determine where the contamination has traveled, what media (soil, groundwater, soil gas, indoor air, surface water, sediment) have been impacted by the release, what contaminants are present, what concentrations of contamination are present, and what are the potential exposure pathways (nearby drinking water supplies, inhalation of vapors migrating into an occupied building, ingestion/dermal contact with contaminated soil/water). Your LSP will help you come up with an assessment plan designed to answer these questions and once sufficient data has been collected for the release, your LSP will help you select and implement a closure strategy for your release.

Am I Done Yet?

Once the remediation or closure strategy has been developed, implemented, and completed, your LSP must demonstrate that your site meets the regulatory requirements for closure. These requirements include documenting through sufficient lines of evidence that any contamination remaining at the site poses minimal risk to current and future site occupants and visitors. These potential exposures include everyone from a current or future long-time resident to short-term construction and utility workers; contamination that might be a concern for one group could be inconsequential for another. The LSP must also evaluate the risk that the release presents to the environment, which includes the biota and habitats on and around the site.

What Should I Look for in an LSP?

The complexity of closure under the MCP is different for each site, but regardless of a site’s complexity, closure under the MCP always requires in depth knowledge of the MCP and other applicable regulations, the conditions at the site, and available remediation and mitigation measures. A good LSP will not only help guide you through this process and make sure you stay in compliance with the regulations, but he or she will also work to understand your goals for the site and find an optimal path to site closure. We recommend keeping your LSP informed of your plans for the site and any changes in these plans as soon as you learn about such changes. An open line of communication with your LSP can help minimize assessment and remediation costs and project delays and keep your project running smoothly.