Brownfield – Abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities/sites where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. They can be in urban, suburban, or rural areas. State and federal programs are available to assist communities with mitigating potential health risks and restoring the economic viability of such areas or properties.

Caustics – Corrosive materials, such as caustic sodas, used in the manufacture of chemicals.

Clay Cap – A compacted clay soil (containing more than 40 percent clay, less than 45 percent sand, and less than 40 percent silt) layer used as an engineering control to cover consolidated waste areas on a brownfield site.

Clean Ohio Fund Grant – The $400 million Clean Ohio Fund, approved by statewide ballot in November 2000, was established to preserve green space and farmland, improve outdoor recreation, and revitalize blighted neighborhoods by cleaning up and redeveloping polluted properties. It consists of four competitive funding programs, including the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund. Voters gave the state the ability to issue $200 million for brownfield redevelopment activities and the Ohio Department of Development implements these statewide brownfield grant awards in consultation with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Chromium/chromate – Chromium is a metallic element. It is typically found in two forms: chromium (III) and chromium (VI), also known as trivalent and hexavalent chromium, respectively. Chromium (III) occurs naturally in soil, plants and animals and is an essential nutrient. Chromium (VI) is generally produced by industrial processes (see hexavalent chromium definition). Chromate is an oxide of hexavalent chromium.

Chromite Ore Processing Residue – Chromite ore processing residue (COPR) is the excess material remaining from the manufacturing process of producing chromium VI compounds.  COPR is characterized as reddish or gray in color, alkaline (pH of 10 to 12) and is comprised of particles that vary in size from gravel to fine silt.  COPR contains chromium III, chromium VI, and essentially non-toxic oxides of other metals (e.g., iron, aluminum, calcium, and magnesium).

Decision Document – Documents used to provide the reasoning or background for the choice of or changes to a particular remedial strategy or cleanup plan for a site.

Environmental Covenant – In Ohio, environmental covenants are created as statutory legal mechanisms to govern long-term control, use, and remediation of environmentally-contaminated properties.

Feasibility Study – Analysis of the practicability of a proposals, e.g., a description and analysis of potential cleanup alternatives for a site. The feasibility study usually recommends selection of a cost-effective alternative. It usually starts as soon as the remedial investigation is underway; together, they are commonly referred to as the “RI/FS.”

Field Sampling Plan – A plan developed and submitted to environmental regulatory agencies identifying and describing sampling and analysis investigation work to be conducted as part of a site remediation or cleanup. Commonly referred to as an “FSP.”

Fly Ash – Non-combustible residual particles expelled by flue gas.

Ground Water – The supply of fresh water found beneath the Earth’s surface, usually in aquifers, which supply wells and springs. Because ground water is a major source of drinking water, there is growing concern over contamination from leaching agricultural or industrial pollutants or leaking underground storage tanks.

Hexavalent Chromium – A chromate compound which contains the element chromium in the +6 oxidation state (see chromium/chromate definition). Hexavalent chromium is recognized as a human carcinogen via inhalation.

Monitoring Wells –

  1. A well used to obtain water quality samples or measure ground water levels.
  2. A well drilled at a hazardous waste management facility to collect ground water samples for the purpose of physical, chemical, or biological analysis to determine the amounts, types, and distribution of contaminants in the ground water beneath the site.

Operable Unit – Term for each of a number of separate activities undertaken as part of a site cleanup. A typical operable unit could include removal of hazardous items, such as drums and tanks, from the surface or sub-surface of a site. Commonly referred to as OU.

Organic compounds – Naturally-occurring (animal or plant-produced or synthetic) substances containing mainly carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls – A group of toxic, persistent chemicals used in electrical transformers and capacitors for insulating purposes and in gas pipeline systems as lubricant. The sale and new use of these chemicals, also known as PCBs, were banned by law in 1979.

Preferred Plan – The cleanup action plan identified by an environmental regulatory agency as the preferred remedial strategy for the site. These plans are typically subject to a 30-day public comment period prior to implementation.

Remedial Investigation – An in-depth study designed to gather data needed to determine the nature and extent of contamination at a cleanup site; establish site cleanup criteria; identify preliminary alternatives for remedial action; and support technical and cost analyses of alternatives. The remedial investigation is usually done with the feasibility study. Together they are usually referred to as the “RI/FS.”

Remediation – Cleanup or other methods used to remove or contain a toxic spill or hazardous materials from a contaminated site.

Risk Assessment – Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the risk posed to human health and/or the environment by the actual or potential presence and/or use of specific pollutants.

Surface Water – All water naturally open to the atmosphere (rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, streams, impoundments, seas, estuaries, etc.)

Some definitions courtesy of U.S. EPA.