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Site Cleanup

The Regional Water Board oversees site investigation and cleanup for unauthorized releases of pollutants to soils and groundwater and in some cases to surface waters or sediments. Sites include industrial facilities, dry cleaners, underground tanks, and aboveground tanks. Much of the pollution is due to past waste disposal and handling practices, as well as spills and leaks. New sites are discovered as a result of recent spills, property transactions, or nearby environmental investigations. Cleanup of Brownfields has become a new focus of our site cleanup programs, to address polluted properties in under-utilized urban areas.

The Regional Water Board oversees site cleanup through several programs:

You can find information on sites overseen by the Water Board and County Health agencies by visiting Geotracker, our on-line site cleanup database. Once there, select the “site/facility finder” button and use the search tool to find the site you are interested in.

The Water Board is one of several regulatory agencies that oversee such cleanup work in the Bay Area. Others include: the California Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC) and the nine County Health agencies. You can find information on sites overseen by DTSC by visiting Envirostor, a similar on-line site cleanup database.

Parties wishing to receive regulatory oversight for a site should apply to either DTSC or the Regional Water Board, using an application form found on our Brownfields page (subheading "Memorandum of Agreement" or MOA). The two agencies will determine the appropriate lead agency, using criteria found in the Memorandum of Agreement.

The Water Board has developed Environmental Screening Levels (ESLs) to help expedite the identification and evaluation of potential environmental concerns at contaminated sites. Data collected at a site can be directly compared to ESLs, and the need for additional actions quickly determined. ESLs have been developed for more than 100 commonly detected constituents. They address a full range of concerns encountered at contamination sites and are protective of human health, water quality, and the environment. The ESLs do not constitute policy or regulation, and their use is optional.

In 2014, the Water Board developed the Interim Framework for Assessment of Vapor Intrusion at TCE-Contaminated Sites in the San Francisco Bay Region. Its purpose is to address vapor intrusion concerns in the context of new information regarding short term toxicity of trichloroethene (TCE). The Framework summarizes existing vapor intrusion guidance and suggests modifications and special considerations for sites contaminated with TCE. This Framework does not constitute policy or regulation.