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Voluntary Cleanup Program

The Process

Just the Forms
If you just want to download the forms, click above.

This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about the operation of the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), including how to:


Request Services

  • My Request

  • When may I request an opinion?


    You may request an opinion either:

    1. When applying to enter the VCP, or

    2. After entering the VCP.

    May I request opinions on planned investigations and cleanups?

    YES.  You may request opinions on planned remedial actions, including planned investigations and cleanups.  In fact, Ecology recommends early consultations, particularly if the Site is complex or the Property is being redeveloped.

    May I request more than one opinion?

    YES.  You may request more than one opinion under the VCP.  For example, you could:

    1. First request an opinion on a completed investigation and then later on the completed cleanup.

    2. First request an opinion on a proposed cleanup and then later on the completed cleanup.

    How do I request an opinion?


    The answer to this question depends on when you make the request.

    1. When Applying.  To request an opinion when applying to enter the VCP, do the following:

      1. Request an opinion in Part 1 of the Application Form.
      2. Submit the following documents with your application:


    2. After Entering.   To request an opinion after entering the VCP, do the following:

      1. Complete and submit to Ecology a Request for Opinion Form. Submittal instructions are included in the Form.
      2. Submit the following documents with the Form:


      Alternatively, you may request an opinion in writing (by letter or e-mail), provided the writing includes the same information as required in the form.

  • Ecology's Response

  • When should I expect a response from Ecology?

    The answer to this question depends in part on when you submit your request.

    1. When Applying. If you request an opinion when applying, you should expect a response usually within about ninety (90) calendar days of entering the VCP.

    2. After Entering. If you request an opinion after entering, you should expect a response usually within about ninety (90) calendar days of Ecology receiving your request.

    Ecology’s response may consist of either a written opinion or a request for additional information.

    When will Ecology issue the opinion?


    The answer to this question depends on whether Ecology determines that further action is necessary, either at the Site or a Property located within the Site.

    1. Further Action.  If further action is necessary, then Ecology will issue the opinion upon completion, provided there are no past due charges on your account.

    2. No Further Action.  If no further action is necessary, then Ecology will issue the opinion upon final payment.  Ecology will usually send you the final invoice on the tenth day of the month following the month in which the opinion was completed.  After payment has been received, Ecology will issue the opinion.

    3. Please note that Ecology will not issue the opinion until environmental sampling data has been submitted in the required EIM format.  See instructions on how to submit data.

    What should I do if I disagree with the opinion issued by Ecology?


    If you disagree with the opinion issued by Ecology, you should contact the VCP Unit Manager in the region where the Site is located.  For contact information, go to the following VCP web page: Contacts.  

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Pay for Services

  • Responsibility

  • Who is responsible for payment?


    The “Customer” is responsible for payment. The Customer is the person or organization requesting services from Ecology under the VCP, and is responsible for paying the costs incurred by Ecology to provide those services.  The rights and duties of the Customer are explained in the VCP Agreement, which must be signed by the Customer.  The Customer is also identified in the VCP Application Form.

    Who is the project billing contact?


    The “project billing contact” is the person to whom Ecology sends monthly invoices.

    • If the Customer is a person, the project billing contact is the Customer.
    • If the Customer is an organization, the project billing contact must be a person employed by that organization.

    The project billing contact is identified in the VCP Application Form.

    How do I change the project billing contact?


    To change the project billing contact or contact information, submit a Change of Contact Form to Ecology.  Mail the completed form to the Site Manager assigned to your project.  If a Site Manager has not yet been assigned, then mail the form to the address specified on the form.  To avoid unnecessary disruptions in service, please submit the form to Ecology within 30 calendar days of the change.

    Alternatively, you may notify Ecology in writing (by letter or e-mail), provided the writing includes the same information as required in the form.  Verbal notices must be followed by written confirmation.

  • Costs

  • What staff may Ecology use?


    Ecology may use any appropriate resources to provide you with the services you request.  Those resources may include, but are not limited to, those of Ecology and the Office of the Attorney General.  However, Ecology will not use independent contractors unless you provide Ecology with prior written authorization.

    What staff activities are billable?


    Billable staff activities are those that are reasonably attributable to the Site and the services requested by the Customer.  They include, but are not limited to, the following:

    1. Meetings with you, your representatives (e.g., consultants or attorneys), other Ecology staff (e.g., engineers, hydrogeologists, or toxicologists), or the Attorney General’s Office.  Charges may include travel time.

    2. Communications (by phone, e-mail, or letter) with you, your representatives (e.g., consultants or attorneys), other Ecology staff (e.g., engineers, hydrogeologists, or toxicologists), or the Attorney General’s Office.  Charges may include the time required to draft letters and e-mails and transcribe phone conversations.

    3. Document review, including review of any previously submitted reports or plans and any other documents about the Site or the remedial action planned or performed at the Site, including initial investigations and site hazard assessments.

    4. Document development, including internal reviews and the time required to conduct any negotiations or consultations with you or other parties (e.g., local governments).  Documents may include, but are not limited to, written opinions and environmental covenants.

    5. Site work, including any environmental sampling or data analysis performed by Ecology.  Charges may include travel time and laboratory costs.

    6. Site visits.  Charges may include travel time.

    How are hourly rates for staff calculated?


    Hourly rates for staff are calculated in accordance with the rules implementing the state cleanup law, Chapter 173-340 WAC.  The rates charged by Ecology are intended to be less than the rates typically charged by a comparably sized consulting firm providing similar services.

    The hourly rates include both the direct costs of staff and the support costs of the program and agency.

    For additional information on how hourly rates are calculated, see WAC 173-340-550.

    What is the range of hourly rates for staff?


    For the 2008 fiscal year, hourly rates for applicable Ecology staff range from about $78 to $135.  The hourly rate for attorneys at the Attorney’s General Office is $141.12.

    What does the number of staff hours usually depend on?


    In general, the number of hours staff will spend on your project depends on the following:

    1. Media impacted.

      If the release of hazardous substances affects more than just the soil, then the number of staff and hours will likely increase. For example, if the release also affects ground water, then the cleanup will likely be more complex and may require the involvement of a staff hydrogeologist.

    2. Properties affected.

      If the release of hazardous substances affects more than one parcel of real property, then the cleanup will likely be more complex and staff hours will likely increase.

    3. Number of opinions requested.

      The more services you request, including opinions, the greater the number of hours Ecology staff will spend on your project.  However, please note that requesting opinions on proposed cleanups may ultimately save cleanup costs in the long run.

  • Waiver of Costs

  • Will Ecology waive the costs of reviewing a completed cleanup if I used a model remedy?


    YES. If you request a written opinion on a completed cleanup that qualifies for and appropriately uses a model remedy published by Ecology, the cost of reviewing the completed cleanup will be waived by Ecology.

    The waiver is limited to requests for written opinions on completed cleanups.  And the waiver is limited to only two such requests: an initial request, and one subsequent request if the initial submittal was deemed incomplete by Ecology.

    Learn more about model remedies.

  • Billing

  • How often will Ecology bill me?


    Ecology bills once a month.

    What is the billing period


    The billing period is from the first to the last day of each month.

    When will Ecology mail the invoice each month?


    Ecology will usually mail the invoice on the tenth day of the month following the end of the billing period (end of the previous month).

    For example, for the billing period ending on January 31st, Ecology will usually mail the invoice on February 10th.

    To whom will Ecology mail the invoice?

    Ecology mails the invoice to the Project Billing Contact that you identified in the Application Form.

    NOTE: If the Project Billing Contact changes, please submit a Change of Contact Form to Ecology.  Mail the completed form to the Site Manager assigned to your project.  If a Site Manager has not yet been assigned, then mail the form to the address specified on the form.  To avoid unnecessary disruptions in service, please submit the form to Ecology within 30 calendar days of the change. 

    What does the invoice include?


    The invoice includes a summary of the costs incurred, payments received, identity of staff involved, and amount of time staff spent on the project.

  • Payment

  • When is payment due?


    The invoice will indicate the due date for payment.  The due date is thirty (30) calendar days from the invoice date.

    How do I make payment?


    Make payment by check or money order.   Ecology does not accept credit cards.  Please do not send cash.

    To whom should I make payment?


    Make the check out to the “Department of Ecology.”

    Must I include the invoice with my payment?

    YES.  You must include the invoice with your payment.  Ecology will return any payment that is submitted without an invoice.

    Where should I mail payment?


    Use the envelope enclosed with the invoice.  Mail your payment, along with the invoice, to the following address:

    DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY
    CASHIERING UNIT
    P.O. BOX 47611
    OLYMPIA, WA 98504-7611

    May I pay in person?

    NO.  You may not pay in person.

    May I prepay?

    NO.  You may not prepay.  If we receive payment that is not attached to an invoice, then we return the payment instead of crediting the account.

    What happens if I overpay?

    Ecology will usually credit your account.  If there is no activity on your account for 3 months, then we return the credited amount.

  • Delinquent Payment

  • When is payment delinquent?


    Payment is delinquent if payment has not been made by the due date, which is thirty (30) calendar days from the invoice date.

    What may Ecology do if payment has not been made by the due date?


    If payment has not been made by the due date, Ecology may withhold any requested opinions under the Agreement.

    What may Ecology do if payment has not been made by the 30th day after the due date?


    If payment has not been made by the 30th day after the due date, Ecology may:

    1. Stop all work under the Agreement.

    2. Notify the Customer by certified mail that payment is past due and that Ecology may assign the delinquent account to a collection agency if payment is not made within thirty (30) calendar days of the notice.

    May Ecology assign delinquent accounts to a collection agency?


    YES.  Ecology may assign delinquent accounts to a collection agency under Chapter 19.16 RCW. 

    Am I responsible for the collection agency fee?


    YES.  If Ecology assigns your delinquent account to a collection agency, you are responsible under the Agreement for the collection agency fee incurred by Ecology.

  • Contacts and Disputes

  • For questions about the billing process, who should I contact?


    For questions about the billing process, contact the VCP Financial Manager.  For contact information, go to the following VCP web page: Contacts.

    For questions about payment, who should I contact?


    For questions about payment, contact Carla Clarey in our Fiscal Office at (360) 407-7081.

    For questions about specific charges, who should I contact?


    For questions about specific charges, contact the Site Manager assigned to your VCP project.

    When should I raise questions about specific charges?

    To avoid disruptions in services, you should raise questions about specific charges before the due date.

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Change Contacts

Who are my project contacts?

The following are your project contacts. You first identified these people when you applied to enter the VCP:

  • Project Manager. You need to identify the Project Manager. This person will receive official correspondence and is authorized to request services from Ecology. If not the Customer, this person must be employed by the Customer.

  • Project Billing Contact. You need to identify the Project Billing Contact. This person will receive invoices from and is authorized to make payment to Ecology. If not the Customer, this person must be employed by the Customer.

  • Project Consultant, if different than Customer. If you hired a consultant to conduct the cleanup on your behalf, then you need to identify the consultant. At your request, Ecology can contact and send copies of official correspondence to the consultant.

  • Project Attorney, if different than Customer. You are not required to identify any attorney that you may have hired to work on the project. However, if you want Ecology to contact your attorney, then you need to identify that person and their contact information.

  • Property Owner, if different than Customer. You need to identify the property owner and their contact information.

If my project contacts or their contact information changes, do I need to inform Ecology?

YES.  If your project contacts or their contact information changes, then you need to inform Ecology.

When should I inform Ecology about those changes?

You should inform Ecology within 30 calendar days of any change.  Failure to notify Ecology promptly may result in an unnecessary disruption of service.

Who should I notify at Ecology of those changes?

You should notify the Site Manager assigned to your VCP project.

How do I inform Ecology of those changes?

To inform Ecology of any change, download and complete a Change of Contact Form from the VCP web site.  Mail the completed form to the Site Manager assigned to your project.  If a Site Manager has not yet been assigned, then mail the form to the address specified on the form.

Alternatively, you may notify Ecology in writing (by letter or e-mail), provided the writing includes the same information as required in the form.  Verbal notices need to be followed by written confirmation.

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Change Customers

When should I notify Ecology of the change?


You should notify Ecology as soon as possible. Failure to notify Ecology prompty of such changes may compromise Ecology's ability to provide requested services.

Who should I notify at Ecology of the change?

You should notify the Site Manger assigned to your VCP project.

How should I notify Ecology of the change?


You may notify Ecology of the change by any means (by letter, e-mail, or phone).

What is required to change Customers?


Changing Customers requires the following:

  • Withdrawal by the current Customer.
  • Application by the new Customer.

What must the current Customer do withdraw from the VCP?


Withdrawal from the VCP is governed by the VCP Agreement.  To withdraw from the VCP, the current Customer must terminate the Agreement by sending written notice by U.S. mail to Ecology.  For additional guidance on withdrawal process, see the frequently asked questions below.

What must the new Customer do to apply to enter the VCP?


To apply to enter the VCP, the new Customer must complete and submit to Ecology a VCP application, which consists of the following two documents:

  • VCP Application Form.
  • VCP Agreement.

For additional guidance on the application process, see the following VCP web page: Getting Started.

Upon termination of the Agreement, does the current Customer remain responsible for all costs incurred by Ecology under that Agreement?


YES.  Upon termination of the Agreement, the current Customer remains responsible for all costs incurred by Ecology under that Agreement.  In other words, the current Customer is responsible for any costs Ecology incurs providing the services it requested. 

However, the current Customer is not responsible for any costs incurred by Ecology under the Agreement with the new Customer.  In other words, the current Customer is not responsible for any costs Ecology incurs providing the services the new Customer requested.

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Provide Notice of Changes in Customer Status

What constitutes a change in the Customer’s status?


Changes in the Customer’s status include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Merger.
  • Acquisition.
  • Change in the name.

Must I notify Ecology of those changes?


YES.  The Customer must notify Ecology of any change in status.  Such notifications are particularly important if the change reflects the acquisition or merger of companies.

When should I inform Ecology of those changes?


You should inform Ecology within 30 calendar days of any change.  Failure to notify Ecology promptly may result in an unnecessary disruption of service.

Who should I notify at Ecology of those changes?


You should notify the VCP Financial Manager.    For contact information, go to the following VCP web page: Contacts.

How do I inform Ecology of those changes?


To inform Ecology of any change, send a letter by U.S. mail to the VCP Financial Manager.  The letter should describe the following:

  • The change in status.
  • All of the VCP projects affected by the change.
  • Any changes to your designated VCP project contacts, including project managers and billing contacts.

Do I need to enter into a new VCP Agreement with Ecology?


The answer to this question depends on the nature of the change.  Ecology will notify you if we need for you to enter into a new VCP Agreement.

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Withdraw from the Program

May I withdraw from the VCP?


YES.  You may withdraw from the VCP at any time and without cause.

How do I withdraw from the VCP?


Withdrawal from the VCP is governed by the VCP Agreement.  To withdraw from the VCP, you must send written notice by U.S. mail to Ecology.   

To provide that notice, download and complete the Withdrawal Notice from the VCP web site.  Mail the completed form to the Unit Manager for the region in which your Site is located.  For contact information, go to the following VCP web page: Contacts.

What is the effective date of termination?


If you are terminating the VCP Agreement, then the effective date of termination is the date Ecology receives written notice from the Customer.

If Ecology is terminating the VCP Agreement, then the effective date of termination is the date Ecology sends the written notice to the Customer.

How does termination affect my responsibility to pay for the costs incurred by Ecology under the VCP Agreement?


The Customer remains responsible under the VCP Agreement for costs incurred by Ecology before the effective date of termination. 

Further, termination of the Agreement does not affect any right Ecology may have to recover costs under MTCA or any other provision of law.

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This page last updated September 16, 2016