Acronyms and Glossary

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Below are acronyms and terms commonly used in contaminated site cleanup work.


AO  See Agreed Order.
  A legal document issued by Ecology which formalizes an agreement between the department and potentially liable persons (PLPs) for the actions needed at a site.
ARARs  Applicable Relevant and Appropriate Requirements.
AST  Above ground Storage Tank.
ASTSWMO  Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials.
ATSDR  Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (federal government).


BC  British Columbia (Canadian province).
BLA or BLS  "Business License Application" or "Business License System" (managed by WA Department of Revenue).
BMP  Best Management Practice.
Brownfield Site   "Brownfield property" means previously developed and currently abandoned or underutilized real property and adjacent surface waters and sediment where environmental, economic, or community reuse objectives are hindered by the release or threatened release of hazardous substances that the department has determined requires remedial action under this chapter (70.105D.020 RCW) or that the United States Environmental Protection Agency has determined requires remedial action under the federal cleanup law. A cleanup site is labeled a brownfield site when: 1) Designated brownfield funding sources are being used to fund cleanup activities; 2) A state or local governmental entity has determined that it is a brownfield cleanup site; and 3) The site has been flagged as a brownfield site in the ISIS database.
BTEX  Major components present in gasoline: Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene.


CAP  See Cleanup Action Plan.
  1) Consent Decree (A formal legal agreement that is filed with a court of law.  It describes studies and/or cleanup work to be done at a site and the terms under which that work is to be done.); 2) Compact Disk (alternatively, CD-ROM:  Compact Disk / Read-Only Memory).
CERCLA  Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Federal Superfund Law).
CERCLIS  Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation, and Liability Information System (information system, maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection  Agency).
CLARC  Cleanup Levels and Risk Calculation tools.
CLEANUP  Actions taken to deal with a release, or threatened release of hazardous substances that could affect public health and/or the environment. The term "cleanup" is often used broadly to describe various response actions or phases of remedial responses such as the remedial investigation/feasibility study.
CLEANUP ACTION PLAN (CAP)  A document that describes the selected cleanup method(s) and specifies cleanup standards and other requirements. It is based on information and technical analyses generated during the RI/FS and consideration of public comments and community concerns. A draft of the CAP (DCAP) is made available for public review and comment before finalizing.
Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Wastewater collection system overflows of stormwater and wastewater. This occurs when flows exceed the carrying capacity of the wastewater collection system, such as during heavy rain events.
COMMENT PERIOD  A time period during which the public can review and comment on various documents and Ecology or EPA actions. For example, a comment period is provided to allow community members to review and comment on proposed cleanup action alternatives and proposed plans. Also, a comment period is held to allow community members to review and comment on draft feasibility studies.
CONSENT DECREE  A formal legal document, approved and issued by a court which formalizes an agreement reached between the state and the potentially liable person(s) (PLPs) on what will take place during the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study and/or cleanup action. A Consent Decree is similar to an Agreed Order except that a Consent Decree goes through the courts. Consent Decrees are subject to public comment. If a decree is substantially changed, an additional comment period is provided.
CONTAINMENT  A container, vessel, barrier, or structure, whether natural or constructed, which confines a hazardous substance within a defined boundary and prevents or minimizes its release into the environment.
CONTAMINANT  Any hazardous substance that does not occur naturally or occurs at greater than natural background levels.
Contamination The introduction of substances harmful or potentially harmful to human health and the environment.
CSCS  Confirmed & Suspected Contaminated Sites list (a standard report / data set produced by the Toxics Cleanup Program).


DBMS  DataBase Management System. A collection of related bits of digital information, organized to facilitate consistent entry and efficient storage and retrieval.
DCAP  Draft Cleanup Action Plan.   A preliminary version of the Cleanup Action Plan (CAP).
DEIS  Draft Environmental Impact Statement.  A preliminary version of the Environmental Impact Statement.
DMMP  Dredged Material Management Program.
DNR  Department of Natural Resources (state agency).
DOL  Department of Licensing (state agency).
DOR  Department of Revenue (state agency).
DOT  Department of Transportation (state agency).
Dredge A device for mechanically removing layers of sediment, rock, debris, and sand from a waterbody. Used to clear channels and for cleanup work.
DSG  Data Submittal Guide (Tools, data templates, and documentation for loading environmental data into the Agency EIM system.)
DSMOA  [Department of] Defense - State Memorandum of Agreement.


EAP  Environmental Assessment Program.
EIM  Environmental Information Management system (agency-wide information system).
EIS  Environmental Impact Statement.  A document that includes an analysis of probable adverse environmental impacts of a proposal, reasonable alternatives, and possible mitigation measures.
EO  Enforcement Order  A legal document issued by the department requiring remedial action. Failure to comply with an enforcement order may result in substantial liability for costs and penalties.
EPA  Environmental Protection Agency (federal government).


FAQ  Frequently Asked Questions list.
FACILITY/SITE SYSTEM  An Agency-wide "umbrella" system used to store basic information about facilities / sites, such as site name(s) and location information.
FEASIBILITY STUDY  A companion study for the Remedial Investigation (RI), where different cleanup technologies and their costs are identified and evaluated based on criteria established during the Remedial Investigation. These two steps are often combined and referred to as the RI/FS. 
FEDERAL PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT  The federal government equivalent to Ecology's Initial Investigation (see Initial Investigation).
FEDERAL SITE INSPECTION  The federal government equivalent to Ecology's Site Hazard Assessment (see Site Hazard Assessment).
FEIS  The last and definitive version of an Environmental Impact Statement.
FS or F/S  1) See Feasibility Study; or 2) Facility/Site System.
FTE  Full-Time Equivalent (staff person measurement).
FUDS  Formerly Used Defense Sites.
FY  Fiscal Year.


GIS  Geographic Information System.
GROUNDWATER  Water found beneath the earth's surface that fills pores between materials such as sand, soil, or gravel. In some aquifers, groundwater occurs in sufficient quantities that it can be used for drinking water, irrigation and other purposes.


HSL  Hazardous Sites List -- A semi-annual list of ranked contaminated sites slated for cleanup under the Model Toxics Control Act.


IC or IC/RC  Institutional Controls or Institutional Controls / Restrictive Covenants. (Institutional controls are measures taken to limit or prohibit activities that may interfere with the integrity of a cleanup action or that may result in exposure to hazardous substances at a cleanup site. Examples may be found in WAC 173-340-440(1).)
II  See Initial Investigation.
INDEPENDENT CLEANUP ACTION  Any remedial action without department oversight or approval and not under an order or decree.
INFORMATION REPOSITORY  A file containing current information, technical reports, and reference documents available for public review. The information repository is usually located in a public building that is convenient for local residents such as a public school, city hall, or library.
INITIAL INVESTIGATION  An investigation to determine that a release or threatened release may have occurred that warrants further action.
INTERIM ACTION  A cleanup action that only partially addresses the cleanup of a site. An interim action is typically either:
    1) A remedial action that corrects a problem that may become substantially worse or cost substantially more to address if the remedial action is delayed; or
    2) A remedial action needed to provide for completion of a Site Hazard Assessment, Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study or design of a cleanup action.
ISIS  Integrated Site Information System (State-wide tracking system, used and managed by the Toxics Cleanup Program).
IT  Information Technology.


LIMS  Laboratory Information Management System (Agency-wide system).
LTCA  Local Toxics Control Account.
LUST  Leaking Underground Storage Tank.


MCL  Maximum Contaminant Level.
MLS  Former "Master License System" (information system transferred from Department of Licensing to Department of Revenue; ties to UST/LUST data); see BLA or BLS.
MODEL TOXICS CONTROL ACT (MTCA)  Legislation passed by the State of Washington in 1988. Its purpose is to identify, investigate, and clean up facilities where hazardous substances have been released. It defines the role of Ecology and encourages public involvement in the decision making process. MTCA regulations became effective March 1, 1989 and are administered by the Washington State Department of Ecology.
MONITORING WELLS  Special wells drilled at specific locations on or off a hazardous waste site where groundwater can be sampled at selected depths and studied to determine the direction of groundwater flow and the types and amounts of contaminants present.
MTBE  Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether.
MTCA  Model Toxics Control Act.
MUDS  Multi-User Disposal Site.
Mercury A heavy, toxic and volatile silvery metal which is liquid at room temperature. Most people associate mercury with thermometers and barometers, but it is also used as an industrial chemical in a number of processes.


NAD27  North American Datum, 1927 version (geographic data, horizontal accuracy measurement).
NAD83  North American Datum, 1983 version (geographic data, horizontal accuracy measurement).
NAICS  North American Industry Classification System (replaced former "SIC" code system).
NFA  No Further Action.
NOAA  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (federal agency).
NPL  National Priorities List (of contaminated sites), produced and maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
NRDA  Natural Resource Damage Assessment.


O&M  Operation and Maintenance. Activities conducted at a site after cleanup construction is completed to ensure that the cleanup or containment system is functioning properly. Examples include:  monitoring of ground water or surface water, maintaining pumps and other on-site equipment, repairing erosion damage to a soil cover, etc.
OFM  Office of Financial Management (state agency).
OU  Operable Unit.


PAH  Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons.
PBT  Persistent, Bio-accumulative Toxic substances.
PBDEs  PolyBrominated Diphenyl Ethers (widely-used flame retardants).
PCBs  PolyChlorinated Biphenyls.
PCE   PerChloroEthylene.
PDF  Portable Document File (or .pdf file), may be read using the Adobe Acrobat reader free software.
Phthalates  A class of chemical compounds that are mainly used as plasticizers. They are chiefly used to turn polyvinyl chloride from a hard plastic into a flexible plastic and they are also used in many other products (such as detergents, cosmetics) and industrial processes. Due to the pervasiveness in products, phthalates are a very widespread class of pollutants. These chemicals may have adverse effects on humans and the environment.
PLIA  Pollution Liability Insurance Agency (state agency).
PLP  see Potentially Liable Person, or Potentially Liable Party.
POTENTIALLY LIABLE PERSON  Any person whom Ecology finds, based on credible evidence, to be liable under authority of RCW 70.105D.040.
PPP  Public Participation Plan:  A plan prepared to encourage coordinated and effective public involvement designed to the public’s needs at a particular site. This plan is required during the investigation and cleanup of hazardous waste sites.
PQL  Practical Quantitation Limit.
PSAMP  Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Program.
PSDDA  Puget Sound Dredge Disposal Analysis.
PSI  Puget Sound Initiative.


QA/QC  Quality Assurance / Quality Control.


R&D  Research and Development.
RA  See Remedial Action.
RCW  Revised Code of Washington.
RD  Remedial Design. A cleanup step that includes detailed engineering analyses, and development of plans and specifications to carry out the selected method of cleanup.
RD/RA  Remedial Design / Remedial Action (combined cleanup steps).
REMEDIAL ACTION  1) Remedial Action (or Cleanup Action):  Construction work done to cleanup a contaminated site. Examples include:  removal of contaminated soils or sediment for treatment or disposal at an off-site location; pumping and treating of contaminated ground water; sealing off contaminated soils or sediment beneath a cap or barrier; the addition of chemicals or enhancement of the growth of microorganisms that break down contamination in place; etc.; 2) Risk Assessment.
REMEDIAL INVESTIGATION/FEASIBLITY STUDY  Two distinct but related studies. They are often
performed at the same time, and together referred to as the "RI/FS." They are intended to:
    * Gather the data necessary to determine the type and extent of contamination;
    * Establish criteria for cleaning up the site;
    * Identify and screen cleanup alternatives for remedial action; and
    * Analyze in detail the technology and costs of the alternatives.
RESPONSIVENSS SUMMARY  A summary of oral and/or written public comments received by Ecology during a comment period on key documents, and Ecology's responses to those comments. The responsiveness summary is especially valuable during the Cleanup Action Plan (CAP) phase at a site when it highlights community concerns.
RI  Remedial Investigation. A companion study for the Feasibility Study. This investigation collects data to determine the extent and magnitude of contamination and evaluation criteria for the cleanup are established. These two steps are often combined and referred to as the RI/FS.
RI/FS  See Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study.
ROD  Record of Decision.
RP  Responsible Party.


SAB  Science Advisory Board.
SAPA  Sediment Sampling and Analysis Plan.
Sediments The accumulated layers of silt, mud, and stones, on the bottom of a body of water.
SEPA  State Environmental Policy Act.
SHA  Site Hazard Assessment. An assessment to gather information about a site to confirm whether a release of hazardous substances has occurred and enable Ecology to evaluate the relative potential hazard posed by the release.
SIC  Standard Industrial Classification (coding system, replaced by newer "NAICS" system).
SIZ  Sediment Impact Zone.
SMARM  Sediment Management Annual Review Meeting.
Source Control  The process of identifying and managing sources of contamination to waterway sediments.  For sources to the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site, this process is explained in the Lower Duwamish Waterway Source Control Strategy.
STCA  State Toxics Control Account.


TCP  Toxics Cleanup Program.
TEE  Terrestrial Ecological Evaluation.
TMDL  Total Maximum Daily Load.
TPH  Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon.
TSP  Tacoma Smelter Plume (areawide contamination project).


USACE  United States Army Corps of Engineers (federal agency).
UST  Underground Storage Tank.
UXO  Unexploded Ordnance.


VCP  Voluntary Cleanup Program. Voluntary cleanups are initiated by persons responsible for the contamination at a site, without prompting by Ecology.  Voluntary cleanups may be conducted completely independently of Ecology; mostly independently but with some Ecology assistance or review; or with detailed Ecology oversight under a signed legal agreement such as an Agreed Order or a Consent Decree.
VOCs Volatile Organic Compounds include a variety of chemicals that become a gas at room temperature, such as benzene, toluene, methylene chloride, and methyl chloroform.  Due to their low water solubility and persistence, once released into the environment they can last for decades.


WAC  Washington Administrative Code.
WARM  Washington Ranking Method -- the method used to rank sites placed on the Hazardous Sites List.
WASP  Water quality Analysis and Simulation Program (computer modeling program).

This page last updated:  December 21, 2016