Cleaning up a contaminated site under the model toxics control act

(Contaminated Site Cleanup)
What is the purpose of this review?
The Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) is a citizen mandated hazardous waste cleanup law. Under the MTCA regulations, owners and operators must report to Ecology any release or threatened release of a hazardous substance on their site. A verbal or written report must be made within ninety days of discovery unless the release is from a regulated underground storage tank (typically gas stations), which must be reported within 24 hours. These notification requirements apply to both current and historical releases. Please note that releases to surface water or from permitted hazardous waste storage, treatment, or disposal facilities have more stringent reporting requirements. Refer to the Reporting Requirement for a Spill or Release of a Hazardous Chemical for reporting information on these types of releases. Ecology conducts an initial investigation of all reported sites and, if appropriate, the site will be placed on Ecology's "confirmed and suspected sites list" with a notation that further remedial action is needed. The MTCA regulations also allow for site owners or other responsible persons to clean up a site themselves, without Ecology's oversight or approval. These "independent" cleanups must be reported to Ecology within 90 days of completing the work. Owners of sites undergoing independent remedial actions may receive feedback from Ecology by requesting an informal opinion through Ecology's Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP). Under this voluntary program, the property owner submits a cleanup report with a fee to cover Ecology's review costs. Based on this review, Ecology either issues a "No Further Action" letter or identifies what additional work is needed. Refer to the Voluntary Cleanup Program for further information on Ecology's review procedures. Persons wanting a more formal approval of the cleanup from Ecology can request an agreed order or consent decree. Ecology can also initiate negotiations on an agreed order or consent decree. Where insufficient progress on cleanup has been made, Ecology may issue an enforcement order. Under these options, Ecology oversees in detail activities such as site investigations, public involvement, cleanup, and monitoring.
Who issues this review?
Department of Ecology
What activities require this review?
If a person decides to investigate or clean up a site, they must comply with the site testing and cleanup actions requirements in the MTCA Cleanup Regulation (WAC 173-340). No permit is required under MTCA to investigate or cleanup a site. However, people may need to obtain other state or local permits for these activities.
How much will this review cost?
A person conducting a cleanup may seek Ecology review after reporting a hazardous substance release. These reviews are often conducted under Ecology's Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP). Under this program, VCP applicants agree to pay Ecology's review costs. See the voluntary cleanup program in this handbook for additional information.

When a cleanup is conducted under Ecology's oversight under a MTCA agreed order, enforcement order, or consent decree, Ecology's oversight costs must be reimbursed by persons responsible for the cleanup.
Where can I get the application for this review?
The application is online and can be accessed at
Do I need to include anything with my application?
The process for applying under the Voluntary Cleanup Program is described on Ecology's web site and the Voluntary Cleanup Program information in this handbook. For cleanups being conducted under an agreed order, enforcement order, or consent decree, see WAC 173-340-500 through 560.
Is the decision on my review dependent on anything besides the information in my application?
Not Applicable
Legal Authority:
Where can I get permitting assistance?
Web page URL:
Department of Ecology
Toxics Cleanup Program
300 Desmond Drive
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Telephone: (360) 407-7170
Fax: (360) 407-7154
* Permit information last updated 10/19/2022