The vision of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is to create strong community partnerships while protecting Florida’s natural resources and enhancing ecosystems. To do so, DEP has published five key values that are being implemented agency wide. The values include integrity, accountability, communication, innovation and service.
Communication is critical to complete work efficiently and effectively. Site managers are encouraged and required to communicate with both the Owner/RP and the contractor. Every effort should be made to continue communication with the site Owner/RPs in moving forward with site remediation and/or site closure.
The Petroleum Restoration Program (PRP) has historically relied on the clean-up contractor community to communicate with the Owner/RP on behalf of the department. Although DEP is ultimately responsible for administering the IPTF and the clean-up of eligible petroleum-contaminated sites, the Contractor Designation Form process under the Preapproval Program (Section 376.30711, F.S.) led the contractor community to be a primary source of program information to Owner/RPs.
In 2014, the Legislature fundamentally shifted the way DEP administers the IPTF for the remediation of petroleum-contaminated sites. The Preapproval Program was repealed, including the Contractor Designation Form process, and DEP was required to competitively procure clean-up contracts for site remediation under Section 287, F.S. This shift allowed the department to take a more proactive role in all aspects of site cleanup and remediation including contractor selection.
Communication with Property Owner/Responsible Party (Owner/RP)
Throughout the SOP, references are made to both the real property owner (Owner) and the responsible party (RP) and sometimes they are combined as Owner/RP. To understand this relationship, the following is presented in the simplest terms as possible, but legally, the responsibility of a discharge can always lead back to the owner and operator at the time of the discharge.
The property owner is the current real property owner as evidenced by county property appraisal records, deed or other document recorded with the county clerk of the court. This is the person(s) that must sign the PRP Site Access Agreement form and the person that needs to be informed of all activity at the site.
The RP is the person or entity that holds the responsibility for the contamination at the site. In general terms, the property owner is an RP, but in some cases, a prior owner or operator at the time of the discharge is also an RP and has continued to retain the responsibility for the discharge via a legal document and has requested to be involved in the progress of the site cleanup.
Site managers are required to communicate with the property owner, but should also communicate with the RP in addition to the Owner when applicable.
Communication with the Owner starts with the department establishing site access. Many Owners/RPs of low-scored sites have not had any communication with DEP since they first received eligibility (possibly 20+ years ago), they are now being contacted actively by the Department to establish site access. See the SOP - 9. Site Access webpage regarding the steps the Department is taking to obtain site access, which begins with communication between the Department and the Owner.
Once the site access agreement is received by DEP, it is processed and a SM is assigned. Prior to contacting the Owner/RP, it is important for the SM to review the site history and files located in OCULUS to become familiar with the assigned site. The SM may find it beneficial to utilize the Initial Facility Review Form during the initial site review to gain a better understanding of the history of the site including assessment and remediation activities that have been completed to date. In addition to using OCULUS, it is also helpful to review the following websites:
The preferred method of contacting the Owner is by phone, but an email will suffice. If the SM does not have the phone number or email of the Owner, they are to contact the Site Access Coordinator who will assign the site to the site access team to research and locate the contact information of the Owner.
When to Communicate
The SM is responsible for overseeing the clean-up activities of petroleum-contaminated sites, from the preparation of scopes of work through site closure. To maintain open communication between the Department and Owner/RP, the Department will conduct information meetings or teleconferences at least once a year. To ensure the Owner/RP are in communication with the Department throughout the entire process, SMs are, at a minimum, required to contact the Owner/RP according to the following schedule:
Site Assignment - SMs must attempt to contact the Owner/RP via phone and/or email within 15 days of SM being assigned a site. Site managers must provide the Owner/RP with their contact information and provide a general overview of the site and the Department’s objectives for the assessment and remediation of the site. The SM must inform the Owner/RP that the Department is responsible for mitigating the potential risk of contamination associated with the site. Closure criteria may also be discussed at this point. If the site is subject to a co-payment or funding cap, this information should also be discussed. If the site is subject to a deductible, the SM must confirm that it has been paid or review the payment plan with the Owner/RP. If the site is in LSA or LSSI, the SM must also explain the specific requirements regarding deductibles, cost shares and LCARs.
Completion of each PO - Once the PO is complete and the deliverable has been received and reviewed by DEP, the SMs must contact the Owner/RP to discuss the results of the last event and explain the next steps in site rehabilitation (closure criteria may also be discussed). The SM must also discuss the Contractor Performance Survey form with the Owner/RP and either send it to them or review and complete the information over the phone. See the SOP - 11. Contractor Performance webpage for more details.
Pre-RAP Phase - For sites that require remedial action, the SM must contact the Owner/RP to discuss the remedial action options. This is the perfect time to discuss the various closure options. See the SOP Site Manager Closure Guide webpage for more details.
At any point the SM thinks a conversation with the Owner/RP is necessary.
Communication Logs and Tracking
Site managers must document their conversations with the Owner/RP on the Communication Log, a fillable form that must be uploaded into OCULUS after completion and Team Leader approval. The log must include the information the SM provides to the Owner, and the response, questions, comments the Owner may have for the Department. The communication log should be completed:
Within 30 days of a new/existing site being assigned to the SM;
When the PO has been completed;
During the pre-RAP phase; and
Any time the SM contacts the site Owner/RP.
It is important for the SM to be descriptive in the communication log so the record clearly indicates the information provided to the Owner, as well as the Owner's response.
Non-Response - SMs must make a concerted effort to contact Owners via email or phone. In the event the Owner is not responding to either email messages or phone calls, the SM must still document all the attempts in the communication log.
All communication logs must be submitted for approval and uploaded into OCULUS. Once the SM has completed a communication log, it should be routed to the Team Leader for approval. A check box is included on the form to confirm the Team Leader or county team leader has reviewed it. The Team Leader or county team leader (or appointed person) approval, the document will be uploaded into OCULUS and cataloged as follows:
Catalog: “Storage Tanks”;
Document Type: “Meeting Related”;
Document Subject: “PO/RP Communication Log”
*Only the Communication Logs inserted into OCULUS with these specific criteria will be available via query for use in evaluating SMs.
Majors Facilitator Assignment
The PRP Majors Facilitator Option will assign a single point of contact to Owner/RP that have at least 20 sites (referred to as “Majors”), or Owner/RP of transportation or port facilities. The facilitator does not take the place of the assigned SM, but will assist with resolving issues that may come up during cleanup and provide support to Owner/RP on a more global basis.
Qualifying Owner/RPs have been sent a letter from DEP that explains the facilitator option and have been given the opportunity to request a facilitator. Owner/RPs that request a facilitator must provide DEP with a list of all eligible facilities before a facilitator will be assigned.
Communication with Contractors
Communication with the assigned contractor is the best method to complete work efficiently and effectively. Site managers are encouraged to communicate with both the Owner/RP and the contractor. Communication with the contractor is especially important when field work is scheduled and while field work is being conducted. When the site manager receives the notification for field work, they should:
Communicate with the contractor to discuss the scope of work and expectations for what should be accomplished during the field work.
Verify that the proposed scope of work is complete and includes contingent units appropriate to address additional step-outs (based on criteria) or changes to depths based on actual site conditions.
Verify that you will be in the office and available during the hours of the scheduled field work in case the contractor has questions from the field or requires a change order to complete the proposed activities. (Remember, field change orders must be processed quickly to avoid undue additional costs.)
Identify a second person who will be available to be your alternate/backup in case of illness or other availability issues.
Reply to the contractor’s field notification email and inform them of the contact information (phone and email) for yourself and your identified alternate/backup.
Verify contact information for the contractor in case you need to reach them while they are out in the field.
Once the contractor is in the field, be conscious of the length of time you are away from your phone or email in case the contractor has questions or requires a change order. If a field change order is required:
Discuss the justification for the change.
Identify the needed pay items and quantities.
Identify who (contractor or site manager) will complete the Request for Change (RFC) form.
If site manager is preparing the RFC form, verify the contact information (email and phone) of the contractor who will sign the form.
Follow the Field Change Order Process to approve and authorize the change order.
Communication and Contact Info
Communication includes relaying information when your are not available via phone or email. Phone mail greetings should inform the caller whether you are unable to answer the phone or if you are out of the office. In all cases, the phone mail greeting should give the caller an alternative contact and their respective phone number. If you are scheduled to be out of the office, the phone mail greeting should inform the caller when you are scheduled to be back in the office. The same information should be relayed via the 'Out of Office' function on your computer. As a reminder, Site Managers must delegate in MFMP when they are not in the office. (See Delegation Instructions for MFMP and Delegation Memo Template)
Below are some examples of phone greetings and Out of Office responses.
In-Office Phone Mail Greeting Example
Hello. You have reached the phone mailbox of [INSERT NAME] with the Petroleum Restoration Program. I am in the office today but either on my phone or away from my desk. Please leave your name and number with a message after the tone and I will return your call as soon as possible. If this is concerning a field change order, my alternate contact, [INSERT NAME], can be reached at [INSERT PHONE #]. If you do need to speak to someone right away, press “0” and “#” on your telephone and you will be transferred to the operator who can further assist you. Thank you for calling and have a nice day.
Out of Office Phone Mail Greeting Example
Hello. You have reached the phone mailbox of [INSERT NAME] with the Petroleum Restoration Program. I am out of the office but will be returning on [INSERT DAY OF WEEK], [INSERT DATE]. Please leave your name and number with a message after the tone and I will return your call as soon as possible. If this is concerning a field change order, my alternate contact, [INSERT NAME], can be reached at [INSERT PHONE #]. If you do need to speak to someone right away, press “0” and “#” on your telephone and you will be transferred to the operator who can further assist you. Thank you for calling and have a nice day.
Email Out of Office Reply Example
I am currently out of the office and will return on [INSERT DAY OF WEEK],[INSERT DATE]. If you need immediate assistance or need a field change order processed, please contact my alternate [INSERT NAME] at [INSERT EMAIL] or [INSERT PHONE #].
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.