Before you apply

Find out if the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) is right for you. If this page doesn’t answer your questions, you may request a free consultation before applying.

The VCP’s role is to provide technical assistance to people cleaning up a site independently, without Ecology oversight. Cleaning up a site independently, with or without help from the VCP, does not commit you to being liable for a site’s cleanup. The billing contract you sign with us to join the VCP is an agreement to pay for the time we spend providing technical assistance and evaluating the sufficiency of the cleanup. You can leave or re-join the VCP at any time, for any reason.

How the process works

After we accept your application to the VCP, we assign a cleanup project manager to your project as your primary point of contact. You provide the cleanup project manager with documentation of your cleanup. After submitting your document with a completed request for opinion form, the cleanup project manager will review the documentation and issue an opinion on whether your cleanup or proposed cleanup meets MTCA requirements.

Our opinions contain written technical assistance. They explain what you need to do to meet state cleanup requirements. They may help determine the scope of a site’s investigation and cleanup.

When you demonstrate that the site meets all cleanup requirements, we issue a No Further Action (NFA) opinion, remove the site from our Confirmed and Suspected Contaminated Sites List, and update the site status in our statewide database.

Limitations

  • Completing cleanup through the VCP does not settle liability with the state.

  • The VCP does not provide oversight or approval for cleanups. The VCP is limited to providing opinions on whether a cleanup meets legal requirements, and what additional work may be necessary.

  • Participating in the VCP does not ensure your cleanup is “substantially equivalent” to an Ecology supervised cleanup. A court determination of substantial equivalence is required to recover cleanup costs from a liable party.

However, our No Further Action opinions normally provide lenders and other government agencies the information they need to determine whether the cleanup protects human health and the environment.

Cost

Applying to the Standard VCP process is free. We charge an hourly rate billed monthly for the time we spend providing services.

If your cleanup qualifies, you may consider using our model remedies. We provide up to two free reviews and opinions after cleanup is completed for sites that qualify for a model remedy cleanup.

Qualifying for the VCP

Your cleanup may be eligible for VCP if:

  • The contamination affects only soil, groundwater, or air, not surface water or sediment.

  • The contaminant is not petroleum, or petroleum contamination isn’t from a tank or tank-piping system (for tank releases, see PLIA).

  • The site is not part of an Ecology-supervised cleanup with an ongoing Potentially Liable Person dispute.

  • The contamination does not pose a signifigant or immediate threat to human health or the environment.

  • The site is not a landfill.

Contamination from dry cleaning, automotive repair, and spills are all typically eligible for VCP. Complete an Agency Determination Checklist to see if your cleanup project may be eligible. You may also request a free consultation before applying.

Other cleanup options

  • Ecology supervised cleanups: We provide both formal oversight and approval of cleanups through our supervised cleanup process. Cleanup sites that do not qualify for the VCP can contact Ecology’s regional office contacts to discuss supervised cleanup options.

  • Independent cleanups without VCP participation: The majority of cleanups in Washington are conducted as independent remedial actions. Some doing independent remedial actions choose to work with VCP to receive a No Further Action opinion. You may also conduct an independent remedial action without joining the VCP, but there will be no opportunity to get a No Further Action opinion.

  • Petroleum-contaminated sites: The Petroleum Liability Insurance Agency (PLIA) provides technical assistance for releases of petroleum or heating oil from tank systems. PLIA is a separate agency, not an Ecology program.