The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) offers a program to assist business owners and others with liability con-cerns regarding agricultural chemical contamination or incidents on real estate properties. The Agricultural Voluntary In-vestigation & Cleanup (AgVIC) staff provides technical assistance in the form of review and oversight of environmental site investigations and cleanups when requested, and will issue liability assurance letters to voluntary parties. The decision on the part of the voluntary party to enter the AgVIC program for the purpose of obtaining liability assurance is considered to be a business decision to address business liability. The person requesting assistance will be charged for MDA staff time and related costs, and must commit in advance to paying these costs. (See MDA guidance document GD5 Introduction to the Agricultural Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup Program.)
When participating in the AgVIC program, costs for the actions necessary to investigate, minimize or cleanup an agricul-tural chemical incident may be eligible for reimbursement through the Agricultural Chemical Response and Reimburse-ment Account (ACRRA). Expenses considered for reimbursement must address incident impacts that may cause harm to human health or the environment and be approved by the ACRRA Board. ACRRA funds are not available for reimburse-ment of business costs or other ineligible expenses. ACRRA applications must be submitted to and reviewed by the ACRRA Board staff. The ACRRA Board staff makes reimbursement recommendations to the ACRRA Board. The ACRRA Board de-termines the amount of reimbursement and orders reimbursement by the Commissioner to the eligible person. ACRRA provides a guidance document, ACRRA.001 Reimbursement of Costs for Agricultural Chemical Incident Cleanups, which details this process.
Certain expenses are not eligible for ACRRA reimbursement. The ACRRA Board makes each determination after a recom-mendation from ACRRA staff. The following costs are not routinely reimbursed through ACRRA:
- AgVIC Charges: Since entry into the AgVIC program is considered a business decision to mitigate business liability, costs billed to the voluntary party for AgVIC oversight/technical assistance are not eligible costs for ACRRA reimbursement. These costs are considered a cost of doing business, and they do not directly address incident impacts that may cause harm to human health or the environment.
- Limitations on a "Certificate of Completion" Letter: All investigation and remediation needed to attain a "certificate of completion" assurance letter. The MDA objective for cleaning up facilities impacted by agricultural chemicals is to address the high-risk areas appropriately, and issue“no action” assurance letters for these types of cleanups. (A high-risk area is defined as an area having a reasonable likelihood of significant contamination. This likelihood may arise from site-specific reasons or from general MDA experience with similar sites under similar use in the past.) “No action” letters describe an investigation and clean up that meets the MDA objective of sufficiently addressing contamination to the point that human health and the environment are protected. Any additional investigation and remediation to address all possible business liability, which may be required to attain a “certificate of completion” assurance letter, is considered a cost of doing business.
- MDA Pre-approval Required: Investigations and cleanup actions must be approved by the MDA staff prior to the work beginning on the site. Costs for any work conducted that was not requested or pre-approved by the MDA may not be eligible for ACRRA reimbursement.
- Violation Reductions: Violations that are documented on the site undergoing an investigation and cleanup, and particularly if these violations contribute to contamination will be considered if an ACRRA application is submitted for reimbursement. Based on the information provided, the ACRRA Board may reduce the reimbursement. Please be aware that the voluntary party may bear the reduction in cases where another party has committed the violation. For example, the voluntary party, may have their reimbursement reduced because of a violation committed by the current operator of the site.To limit such private liability, this scenario should be addressed in the sales agreement or some other arrangement between the private parties involved, preferably before the possibility of the situation arises (i.e., before the newparty begins operation at the site.)
- Recontamination: Obvious instances of documented recontamination of areas on a site that were previously investigated, cleaned up (if needed) and reimbursed for costs will be considered if an ACRRA application is submitted for reimbursement.
This document is intended to be general guidance and your situation or circumstances may differ. Please coordinate your activities with the MDA project managers and the ACRRA Administrator. (Last updated 10/19)