See also the "Frequently Asked Questions" provided below
Classifications for "Registry" Sites:
Classification Codes 1-5 apply to sites that are listed in the "Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites," or "Registry." The Registry was created by Environmental Conservation Law Article 27 Section 1305 and is also described in regulation (6 NYCRR Section 375-2.7). Sites listed on the Registry are commonly said to be sites in the "State Superfund Program."
Classification Code: 1
This classification is assigned to a site at which:
- contamination constitutes a significant threat to public health and the environment; and
- the significant threat to public health and the environment is causing, or presents an imminent danger of causing, either irreversible or irreparable damage to the environment.
Classification Code: 2
This classification is assigned to a site at which:
- the disposal of hazardous waste has been confirmed and the presence of such hazardous waste or its components or breakdown products represents a significant threat to public health or the environment: or
- hazardous waste disposal has not been confirmed, but the site has been listed on the Federal National Priorities List (NPL).
Classification Code: 3
This classification is assigned to a site at which contamination does not presently and is not reasonably foreseeable to constitute a significant threat to public health or the environment. This classification is not to be used for sites where insufficient data is available to make a definitive decision concerning significant threat.
Classification Code: 4
This classification is assigned to a site that has been properly closed but that requires continued site management consisting of operation, maintenance and/or monitoring. Class 4 is appropriate for a site where remedial construction actions have been completed for all operable units, but the site has not necessarily been brought into compliance with standards, criteria, or guidance (e.g., a groundwater extraction and treatment system has been installed and is operating properly but groundwater standards have not been achieved yet). The Record of Decision should define the remedial action objectives that need to be achieved during site management. If a Certificate of Completion (CoC) is to be issued for a site, the CoC is issued concurrently with the reclassification.
Classification Code: 5
The classification assigned to a site that has been properly closed and requires no further action. This may include a site where continued operation, maintenance, or monitoring is not needed to achieve/maintain protectiveness, but the site is not suitable for delisting from the Registry (e.g., DEC is unable to obtain an institutional control).
Classifications for Non-Registry Sites:
Non-Registry sites are those that are being investigated and remediated in a brownfield program or other environmental remediation program and are not listed in the Registry.
Classification Code: A (Active)
The classification assigned to a non-registry site in any remedial program where work is underway and not yet complete (i. e., Brownfield Cleanup Program, Environmental Restoration Program, Voluntary Cleanup Program and RCRA Corrective action Program sites). This may be used for Manufactured Gas Plant sites or those being remediated under an EPA Cooperative Agreement.
Classification Code: C (Completed)
The classification used for sites where the Department has determined that remediation has been satisfactorily completed under a remedial program (i. e., State Superfund, Brownfield Cleanup Program, Environmental Restoration Program, Voluntary Cleanup Program, and RCRA Corrective Action Program). State Superfund (Registry) sites must have completed all active operation, maintenance, or monitoring requirements before they can be delisted and made class C. Non-registry sites may be made a class C after successful completion of all required construction or after a no further action remedy has been selected by the Department. These sites will be issued a Certificate of Completion (COC), but may still require ongoing maintenance and periodic certification of institutional/engineering controls (IC/ECs).
Classification Code: P (Potential)
This classification is used for sites where preliminary information indicates that a site may have contamination that makes it eligible for consideration for placement on the Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites (commonly referred to as the list of State Superfund Sites). Further information and/or investigation, in the form of a site characterization, is needed to determine if a Class P site qualifies for listing of the site on the Registry. Generally, to qualify for placement on the Registry, there must be evidence that hazardous waste was disposed on the site and that any resulting contamination presents a significant threat (or reasonably foreseeable threat) to public health or the environment. Class P sites are not listed on the Registry and many are eventually found to not qualify for Registry listing. Sites that do not qualify for listing are typically then reclassified to a "Class N" site.
Classification Code: PR (Potential RCRA Corrective Action)
"Class PR" is a specialty classification code that is not related to the Registry. This classification code is used for sites that are, or have been, subject to the requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). RCRA sites are those that are managing or have actively managed hazardous waste (e.g., waste solvents from a manufacturing process). If spills occurred resulting in environmental contamination, remediation may be necessary under the RCRA corrective action program. Similar to a Class P site, Class PR sites are investigated and reviewed to determine if RCRA corrective action is necessary. If so, remediation is carried out under a RCRA permit, order, or other legal mechanism.
Classification Code: N (No Further Action at this Time)
Sites are given a classification of "N" when:
the investigation and evaluation of a Class P site results in a determination that contamination at the site does not warrant placing the site on the Registry or it is being addressed under a brownfield program;
a site was in a brownfield program (BCP, ERP or VCP) or other non-Registry program, remediation was not completed, and the site did not otherwise qualify for listing on the Registry. As an example, this occurs when a volunteer begins a brownfield project and then for economic or other reasons, determines they cannot complete the work and the brownfield project is terminated. If the contamination at the brownfield site qualifies it for placement on the Registry, the Department acts to do so. If the site re-enters a brownfield program, it can be reclassified to Class A (active) to indicate that work has recommenced;
a site was identified simply as the location(s) where a drum(s) or other discrete waste was at one time present and subsequently removed by DEC or others and, based on the resulting conditions, no need for additional work was apparent; or
an application to the BCP, ERP or VCP was submitted, and was then withdrawn or terminated before any actions were taken to investigate or remediate the site.
Frequently Asked Questions about Site Classifications
Q. Are Registry sites more heavily contaminated than non-Registry sites?
A: Sites are placed on the Registry if the Department determines that they present a significant threat to public health (as determined by the Department of Health) or the environment and therefore meet the definition of Class 2. When a Class 2 site has been remediated, it is reclassified or removed from the Registry (delisted) to indicate that the significant threat(s) has been addressed. Non-Registry sites may but usually do not also present significant threats. For all sites in a Department remedial program, the goal of investigating and remediating a site is that the result must be protective of public health and the environment regardless of whether the site is on the Registry or not.
Q. When did the Department begin to make information available on its public website about Class P?
A: Prior to 2013, information about Class P sites was available by request but was not placed on the public website because by the nature of these sites, the information is often preliminary, incomplete, or not verified. Since existing conditions at P sites are often unknown or incomplete and not fully characterized, information about these sites can easily be misunderstood. Their mere existence may unnecessarily raise concern about human exposures or environmental impacts before the sites are better characterized. This information is now being made available on the public website due to the increasing and large numbers of requests for property information that are often associated with buying and selling property. DEC offers the information with the caution that it should not be used to form conclusions about site contamination beyond what the definition of this classification provides, namely the potential for concern. It should be noted that the information provided for a P site is preliminary in nature and unverified and that no DEC investigation has yet been completed. Due to the preliminary nature of this information, significant conclusions or decisions should not be based solely upon these summaries.
Q. When did the Department begin to make information available on its public website about Class N sites?
A: Like the Class P sites, prior to 2013, information about Class N was available by request but was not placed on the public website for several reasons. Many Class N sites were investigated decades ago before information was added to the database making the online information incomplete. Others are brownfield sites where only an application to a program was submitted and no further action taken. Still others were projects undertaken voluntarily but not completed for lack of funding or another reason. Class N site information is now being made available on the public website due to the increasing and large numbers of requests for property information that are often associated with buying and selling property. Again, DEC offers the information with the caution that the amount of information provided for Class N sites is highly variable, not necessarily based on any DEC investigation, sometimes of unknown origin, and sometimes is many years old. Due to the nature of this information, significant conclusions or decisions should not be based solely upon the released summaries.
Q. How can I get more information about Registry and Non-Registry Sites?
A: If you have specific questions about a remedial site and need more information, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a description of the specific information you need and when you need it.
Q. How does DEC determine that a site should be placed on the Registry?
A. To be placed on the Registry, a site must pass two basic conditions. First, there must be evidence that hazardous waste (as defined in the law and regulations) was disposed on the site. Second, the existence of hazardous waste on the site must create an existing or reasonably foreseeable significant threat to public health or the environment. There are many criteria that define a significant threat that are described in the regulations (6 NYCRR 375-2.7(a)) including whether the contaminants disposed at the site or coming from the site result in, or are reasonably foreseeable to result in adverse impacts to public health (e.g., morbidity, disease, reproductive toxicity, etc.), adverse impacts to plants/animals, or significant environmental damage.
Q. Will DEC determine whether the P sites should be placed on the Registry?
A. All P sites are evaluated to determine if they should be placed on the Registry. The time it takes to complete an evaluation depends upon the priority of the site which reflects what is known about the nature and extent of contamination at the site and the potential for adverse impacts to public health and the environment.
Q: When is a site reclassified and how does the reclassification process work?
A: Generally, sites are given an initial classification when they enter a remedial program and are reclassified when major milestones are accomplished (e.g., remediation complete, construction complete and site management needed, decision made that no further remediation is necessary, etc.). Registry site classifications follow the requirements of the applicable regulation (6 NYCRR section 375-2.7). All Registry reclassifications include various forms of public notice as described in subdivision 375-2.7(b). When initially placed on the Registry, public notice is provided to property and adjacent property owners, municipal officials, and the public generally through newspaper notices and the issuance of fact sheets. Registry sites typically begin the remedial process as a "Class 2" site and progress to "Class 4" when remedial construction is complete but site management is needed to achieve the remedial goals for the site (e.g., by collecting and treating contaminated groundwater). When all work is completed at a Registry site, it is "delisted" from the Registry.
Non-Registry sites are given an "Active" (Class A) classification when they enter a program (e.g., Brownfield Cleanup Program) and are reclassified to "Complete" (Class C) when the work is finished or only site management remains. In the Brownfield Cleanup Program, public comment on the project is built in at major milestones (e.g., application to the program, investigation work plan (if applicable), remedy selection). If a party begins a voluntary investigation or remediation project under one of the non-registry programs and elects to terminate the work before completion, and the site does not otherwise qualify for listing on the Registry, it will be identified as a Class N site.