IDEM recently announced a number of changes to its standard voluntary remediation agreement (VRA) applicable to all new VRP sites. The new document significantly curtails the dispute resolution process available to VRP participants, introduces new milestones and deadlines for plan submittal and implementation, and restates the conditions under which IDEM can terminate VRP participation.

Under the new terms, there is now a 60 day timeframe for submittal of an investigation plan or report, and a new requirement that a site be delineated within 2 years.  A remediation work plan must now be submitted within 60 days of IDEM's determination that a site has been delineated.  IDEM’s website explains that "specific revisions to the required Scope of Work (Exhibit A of the VRA) are intended to facilitate more timely progress towards closure for VRP sites."

The new VRA substantially limits the previous dispute resolution process by eliminating the option of utilizing a mediator, and only a 15 day "informal" dispute resolution period remains.  IDEM has also restated the conditions under which VRP participation can be terminated, such as for failure to "substantially comply" with an approved work plan or the VRA.

Other changes include revised language regarding responsibility for RCRA corrective action and a specific reference to IDEM’s new access policy.  Annual progress reports are also now required, which IDEM states are intended to ensure compliance with the project schedule.  Additionally, the VRA adds a provision stating that IDEM must pre-approve changes to the scope of work.

Finally, note that IDEM has attempted to incorporate some of these terms into law through HB 1299, which is under consideration by the General Assembly.

IDEM’s new VRA may be found online at http://www.in.gov/idem/landquality/files/vrp_agreement.pdf.