10. SEPA and MTCA
10.1. Integration of SEPA and MTCA
10.1.1. Review Process
10.1.2. MTCA Interim Actions
In 1988, citizens passed Initiative 97, creating the Model
Toxics Control Act (MTCA) [Chapter 70.105D RCW and Chapter
173-340 WAC]. MTCA gives the Department of Ecology the authority
to order cleanups at contaminated sites and established a tax on
hazardous substances sold in the state. These funds pay for
cleanup and pollution prevention activities.
A remedial action conducted under a consent
decree, order, or agreed order is exempt from the procedural
requirements of many state and local permits. However, the
Department of Ecology must ensure compliance with the
substantive requirements of these permits.
10.1 Integration of SEPA and
An amendment to SEPA in 1994 directed the
integration of the review requirements of MTCA and SEPA [RCW
43.21C.036]. To meet this directive, several sections were added
to the SEPA Rules in 1995 that contain procedures to combine the
MTCA and SEPA processes to reduce duplication and improve public
participation. These changes:
Encourage concurrent review and comment
periods for SEPA and MTCA actions;
Encourage combined documents for SEPA and
MTCA actions; and
Allow the use of expanded scoping prior to
making a SEPA threshold determination.
WAC 197-11-250 through 268 apply to interim and
final hazardous site cleanup activities conducted by the
Department of Ecology, or by a potentially liable party under an
order, agreed order, or decree. They do not apply to independent
cleanup actions (which are reviewed under the normal SEPA
process). If the Department of Ecology is not SEPA lead agency
(see criteria below), the SEPA/MTCA integration procedures are
used to the extent practicable [WAC 197-11-250(4)].
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10.1.1 Review Process
The following briefly outlines the process for
combining the procedural requirements of SEPA and MTCA. For
additional information see WAC 197-11-250 through 268.
Identify the lead agency [WAC
197-11-253]: Identify the SEPA lead agency after the
potentially liable party (PLP) has been identified and prior
to issuing an order, agreed order, or consent decree. The
Department of Ecology will normally be lead agency unless
the PLP is a public agency, or the remedial action is part
of a larger proposal.
Conduct early review [WAC
197-11-256]: Prior to conducting a remedial
investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS), the lead agency
considers available information and makes a preliminary
determination of the probable adverse environmental impacts.
Any additional studies needed under SEPA should be
identified at this point so the studies can be combined with
Perform early scoping [WAC
197-11-256]: If the lead agency determines during the early
review process that additional information is needed to
identify probable impacts, the public is invited to comment
on the proposed study areas. This early scoping will
typically be combined with the public review process for the
order, consent decree, or agreed order for the RI/FS.
Make threshold determination/complete
- If the lead agency determines the remedial action will not have a probable
significant adverse environmental impact, a determination of nonsignificance
(DNS) is issued [WAC 197-11-259]. The DNS must be issued no earlier than the
RI/FS and no later than the draft cleanup action plan. If there is a comment
period on the DNS (see criteria in WAC 197-11-340(2)(a)), then the comment
period on the DNS must be combined with the comment period on the MTCA document
- If the lead agency determines that a significant adverse environmental
impact is likely a determination of significance (DS) [WAC 197-11-262] is issued
and the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) is begun. If the
early scoping process was used, then no additional SEPA scoping is required. The
draft EIS may be issued no earlier than the issuance of the RI/FS and no later
than the issuance of the draft cleanup action plan. The EIS may be combined with
the RI/FS using the procedures in WAC 197-11-262(4).
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10.1.2 MTCA Interim
In some cases, an interim action [WAC
197-11-268] is needed before the final remedial action occurs.
SEPA environmental review is required for these interim actions
unless the action meets the criteria for an emergency under SEPA.
If a DNS is issued, it may be combined with the public notice
for the interim action.
If a DS is issued and early scoping was used, no
additional scoping is needed. If early scoping was not used,
then a scoping notice with a minimum 21-day comment period is
required. The final EIS must be issued no later than the
issuance of the interim action report or the issuance of an
order, agreed order, or decree.
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