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Environmental Cleanup: DOD's Implementation of the Relative Risk Site Evaluation Process
DOD adopted the relative risk site evaluation process in 1994 to address inconsistencies in the evaluation methods it used to prioritize contaminated sites. The process is intended to provide defense components with a common methodology for assigning high, medium, and low relative risk categorizations at each potentially contaminated site on the basis of evaluations of water, soil, and sediments for their contamination levels; the likelihood of contaminant migration; and the presence of potential receptors such as humans, plants, and animals. In addition, DOD's relative risk site evaluation guidance requires that sites lacking sufficient information for a relative risk site evaluation be given a "not evaluated" designation, and provides that certain other sites do not require evaluation. Not evaluated sites, sites that do not require evaluation, and sites with risk characterizations are reported in the Defense Environmental Restoration Program annual reports and budget justification exhibits provided to Congress. Environmental remediation includes cleanup and other efforts aimed at reducing the risk to an acceptable level. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended, serves as the statutory basis for the environmental remediation of contaminated sites. Under the act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks sites for inclusion on the National Priorities List on the basis of public health risks and other factors. DOD's relative risk site evaluation process provides a tool for categorizing sites and sequencing priorities for cleanup on the basis of relative risk. In the relative risk site evaluation process, relative risk site evaluations are used only to screen and categorize sites and are not substitutes for baseline risk assessments.
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