TACO is an acronym for “Tiered Approach to Corrective Action Objectives.” Prior to the implementation of TACO standards in the mid-1990s, the Illinois EPA (IEPA) took a “one size fits all” approach to cleaning up contaminated properties. All sites, regardless of their location, use, contaminants, etc., had to be cleaned up to the same standards.
This regulatory climate changed as cleanup programs across the U.S. continued to mature. Environmental agencies realized that cleaning up an industrial property that was only going to be used for a parking lot was a lot different than cleaning up a former gas station to become apartments. Remediation objectives became risk-based and site-specific.
Today, TACO takes into account three main components to determine environmental risk:
- Contaminant(s) – ie: chemicals
- Exposure route(s) – eg: air, drinking water, etc.
- Receptor(s) – eg: people, plants, or animals
Through both the Site Remediation Program (SRP) and Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) program, environmental consultants such as Gabriel conduct a site investigation consisting of soil, groundwater and/or vapor testing. Once these results are analyzed for each of the above components, the environmental consultant can work with the IEPA project managers to determine the best way to clean up the property. The three most common risk management tools are:
- Active remediation – eg: contaminated soil removal; bioremediation; chemical remediation; etc.
- Engineered barriers – eg: asphalt parking lot, concrete floor, building control technologies (BCTs), etc.
- Institutional controls – eg: drinking water restriction, commercial/industrial use restriction, etc.
Once a property owner has satisfied the applicable program requirements and documented that the contaminants had either been reduced below TACO standards or controlled through engineered barriers or institutional controls, the IEPA will issue a No Further Remediation (NFR) Letter.
These TACO standards mean that you’ll often be able to clean up your property with less expense and hassle, which promotes progressive reuse of contaminated property.
If you have more questions about how the TACO regulations work, contact John Polich, P.E. at jpolich[at]gabenv.com or 773-486-2123.