The Agricultural Chemical Cleanup Program (ACCP) directs cleanups of pesticide and fertilizer contamination. These may be acute, result from sudden accidental spills or long-term, resulting from small releases caused by handling practices that, over time, can add up to significant contamination of soil and/or groundwater. The program helps minimize contamination of surface water, groundwater and the surrounding environment by ensuring that all agricultural chemical cleanups are conducted effectively and in a timely manner. The program also provides reimbursement for a portion of eligible cleanup costs incurred by the responsible persons.
Remediation: In calendar year 2014, the program closed 15 long-term cleanup cases. Five new long-term cases were added in 2014. The number of active cleanup sites as of December 31, 2014, was approximately 130. Program staff reviewed 124 work plans and other cleanup-related reports, as well as 88 cost estimates, and issued 17 landspreading permits associated with long-term remediation sites. Chart 1 summarized the number of long-term cases that were opened and closed in the last five years. The majority of long-term cleanup cases are closed with residual soil and/or groundwater contamination that requires listing on the DNR's GIS Registry of Contaminated Sites. Four of the newly opened cleanup sites were opened as a result of sampling during new construction planning, site decommissioning or Phase 2 ESAs. One site was opened following sampling by DATCP staff in areas where obvious contamination was present.
Staff responded to 31 acute spills and closed six of them. Chart 2 shows the numbers of reported spills, the number of spill cases closed in the same year they occurred, and the total number of spill cases closed in each of the last five years. In 2014, there was a very sharp decrease in the number of spill cases closed in the same year it opened, because there was a new spill coordinator and it was a training year for field staff. Consequently, there was a delay in receiving narratives and closing spills. Any remaining open acute spill cases will be closed following completion of the necessary investigative and remedial actions.
Reimbursement: In 2013 the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection reached a $774,000 settlement agreement in State v. Agro Distribution, et al. (Rock Co. Cir. Ct. 11-CV-1916). Under this agreement, Agro Distribution, et al. and its insurer paid $550,000 into the ACCP fund in 2013. In addition, Agro Distribution, et al. was required to forgo an additional $224,000 that the ACCP fund would otherwise pay to the defendants as reimbursement for cleanups at other sites. The amount forgone in 2013 was $51,871.99. The amount forgone in 2014 was $79,670.99. Since Agro Distribution, et al. did not submit sufficient eligible costs to reach the $172,128.01 required, Agro Distribution, et al. directly paid $92,457.02 into the ACCP fund. The deposits to the fund following the settlement with Agro Distribution, et. al. increased the fund balance in 2013 by $601,871.99. It increased the fund balance an additional $172,128.01 in 2014, fulfilling the total $774,000 required in the settlement agreement.
The FY 13-15 Budget Bill included both funding and operational changes that impact the ACCP. These changes became effective July 2, 2013. Since that date, of the 20 construction plans reviewed by the program, 8 were for facilities on locations that a bulk storage facility had not been in operation or licensed, or had not filed construction plans under ch. ATCP 33 for that facility before July 2, 2013. These 8 facilities are ineligible for ACCP reimbursement.
The 20 percent reduction in surcharges included in the budget bill has not been fully realized in the ACCP fund balance during 2014 due to the timing of surcharge collections. It is further complicated by fluctuations in annual fertilizer and pesticide sales. The Bureau and program will continue to evaluate the balance of the ACCP fund and make recommendations as needed to manage it at the statutorily required level. The condition of the fund will be part of the comprehensive financial review project (RevEx) mentioned in the financial overview.
Direction for the Coming Year
In the coming year, ACCP staff will continue to manage cleanup activities on more than 130 existing ACCP cleanup sites. We anticipate gaining 5-10 new long term cleanup cases and estimate that we will respond to 30-40 discrete agricultural chemical spills. We estimate that we will provide approximately $1 million of financial reimbursement for eligible cleanup work performed.
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