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What are Institutional Controls? New IDEM Program Guide

Posted on January 25, 2023

A new program guide for the Institutional Controls Program was released by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). The guide became effective last month and is posted on the Indiana Register along with a guide attachment.

The document above provides information about the administrative processes involved for the development, tracking, and maintenance of Institutional Controls in the Office of Land Quality (OLQ). The Institutional Controls Group (ICG) was created by the IDEM in 2009 to assist in granting risk-based closure for properties with chemicals remaining in environmental media at concentrations that exceed unconditional remediation objectives. OLQ uses a risk-based approach to address hazardous substances and petroleum releases. When release-related chemicals remain at concentrations exceeding the Risk-Based Closure Guide unconditional remediation objectives, an institutional control is required.

What are institutional controls? Institutional controls limit activity, use, or access, or compel remedial measures, in order to reduce exposure to acceptable levels. Institutional controls generally include Environmental Restrictive Covenant (ERC), Environmental Restrictive Ordinance (ERO), or Long Term Stewardship (LTS). Basic definitions of these terms can be found below.

  • Environmental Restrictive Covenant (ERC): Any deed restriction, restrictive or environmental covenant, environmental notice, or other restriction or obligation with respect to the land which limits the use of the land or activities that may be performed on the land.
  • Environmental Restrictive Ordinance (ERO): Any ordinance with respect to land which is adopted by a municipal corporation that limits, regulates, or prohibits the use of groundwater from beneath the site (for withdrawal, human consumption, or any other use)
  • Long Term Stewardship (LTS): Allows risk-based remediation objectives to be based on site-specific risk assessments that account for remedial measures that manage risk, and control completed or potential future exposure pathways. The LTS is comprised of three major components:
    • LTS Plan: Includes individual work plans for each media that will be sampled during long-term monitoring.
    • Financial Assurance: A trust or bond to ensure that if the responsible party is unable to fulfill or maintain its LTS obligations, financial resources will be available for the State to meet those obligations.
    • LTS Agreement: This agreement would be between the IDEM and the responsible party which serves as a written understanding of expectations from both parties.

The program guide provides guidance on the use of institution controls as a route to conditional site closure through the various OLQ remediation programs. An institutional control as defined by the IDEM is an administratively or legally enforceable measure which limits human exposure to chemicals of concern exceeding applicable closure levels; institutional controls typically do not involve engineered solutions. Institutional controls allow properties with chemicals remaining in the environmental media at concentrations that exceed unconditional remediation objectives to be safely reused or developed so long as the land use restrictions and obligations are maintained to protect human health.

Interested in learning more about IDEM’s Institutional Controls Program? Please contact one of our experts using the form below.

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