Glossary Helps Builders Clear Up Confusion

The lexicon of brownfields can be confusing.
By Patrick L. O'Toole, Senior Editor | November 30, 2002

The lexicon of brownfields can be confusing.

Never fear. TRC Exit Strategy, a company that specializes in assuming brownfield liability and cleanup, has come up with a glossary for newbies.

Cap: A layer of clay or other impermeable material installed over a closed landfill to prevent entry of rainwater.

CERCLA: Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as Superfund, in December 1980. It created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industry and provided broad federal authority to respond to hazardous releases.

Closing Letter: Cleaned-up sites must be maintained for up to 30 years to determine if cleanup has been effective. If a site passes Environmental Protection Agency standards after that time, regulators send a closing letter.

National Priorities List: Sites are listed after completion of a Hazard Ranking System screening, a public comment period and comments are addressed. This is an information and management tool.

Ongoing Maintenance and Monitoring: These activities commence after a site has been deemed operational and functional and continue until closing.

Potentially Responsible Parties: Any individual or company, including owners, operators, transporters or generators, potentially responsible for contamination of a site. The EPA requires all PRPs to pay for cleanups.

Remediation: Cleanup or other methods used to remove or contain a toxic spill or hazardous materials from a site.

For a complete list of commonly used brownfield acronyms, visit


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