A five-year review (FYR) is required if a remedial action (RA) results in hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants remaining at levels that do not allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure (UU/UE). The review consists of gathering and evaluating documents, data, and interview responses to assess whether the remedies selected for a site are functioning as intended and continue to be protective of human health and the environment.
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The purpose of the FYR is to evaluate the performance of the implemented remedy and to verify that the remedy remains protective of human health and the environment. The FYR process integrates information from decision documents and remedy operational data to support this evaluation. The Navy/Marine Corps Policy for Conducting CERCLA Five-Year Reviews provides important information for Department of the Navy (DON) Remedial Project Managers (RPMs) to plan and conduct FYRs. This policy addresses FYR trigger dates and recommends allowing a minimum of one year to complete a FYR and obtain necessary signatures by the statutory deadline.
The FYR includes several elements to assess remedy performance and protectiveness as follows:
- Document Review: All relevant documents and data are reviewed to obtain information to assess performance of the response action.
- Data Review and Analysis: Review of sampling/monitoring results, operation and maintenance (O&M) reports, and remedy performance information. The focus is data for the five-year period under review. In some cases, it may be necessary to conduct supplemental sampling.
- Site Inspection: A visit to the site is typically made to gather information about a site’s current status and to visually confirm and document the conditions of the remedy, the site, and the surrounding area.
- Interviews: Interviews should be conducted as necessary to provide additional information about the status of the site. Individuals who may be interviewed include: the site manager and other site personnel; regulatory authorities; and people who live or work near the site.
- Protectiveness Determination: The continued protectiveness of the remedy is assessed through the technical assessment process. The technical assessment is based on the data and information collected and provides the basis for protectiveness determinations and protectiveness statements. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) document on Clarifying the Use of Protectiveness Determinations for Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act Five-Year Reviews defines five protectiveness categories and provides guidelines for their use, along with example language for drafting the protectiveness statement.
The EPA/Federal Facilities Workgroup has developed a FYR Report Template, which is the preferred format for DON FYR reports. The FYR Report presents a brief description of the site, the data reviewed, and the data evaluation results. The report then tabulates the protectiveness determinations for each Operable Unit (OU), any issues identified during the review that affect protectiveness, and recommended corrective actions and a schedule to address any issues.
DON is the approval authority for CERCLA FYRs at DON sites. A Quality Document Review (QDR) is required for the FYR as the action items resulting from the review may alter the remedial approach for a site. The QDR process should be completed prior to FYR submission to regulatory stakeholders. The EPA and State regulators also participate in reviews and provide Concurrence Letters when they are in agreement with the FYR findings or the EPA may develop their own protectiveness determination. At a minimum, outreach activities should include community notifications that the FYR will be conducted and that once completed has been placed in the local site information repository.
FYRs continue throughout the life of the site until hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants no longer remain on site at levels that do not allow for UU/UE. For more information, Chapter 11.4 of the DON Environmental Restoration Program Manual summarizes FYR considerations.