Commonly Used Acronyms

This page contains a comprehensive list of acronyms and terms commonly used in environmental restoration programs.



Activated carbon: A dry granular material used to remove organic substances from water or air.
Administrative Record (AR): A file of documents that contains all information used by the lead agency to make its decision on the selection of a response action for an environmental restoration site. This file is available for public review at an information repository.
AEC: U.S. Army Environmental Center
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): A branch of the Centers for Disease Control that is responsible for preparing health assessments at National Priority List sites.
APCB: Jefferson County Air Pollution Control Board
Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirement
ARAR: A requirement that applies or pertains to the handling or disposition of waste at an identified site. They are federal and state (and sometimes local, e.g., air quality) laws that must be considered when choosing removal and remedial actions.
Aquifer: An underground geological formation or group of formations composed of materials such as sand, soil, or gravel that can store and supply groundwater to wells and springs.
AR: Administrative Record
AST: Aboveground Storage Tank
ASTER: Assessment Tools for the Evaluation of Risk
ATSDR: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry


Batch testing: Refers to testing treated water in batches as opposed to testing continuously.
Baseline Risk Assessment: An evaluation of the potential threat to human health and the environment in the absence of any remedial action. It provides the basis for determining: whether remedial action is necessary; the justification for performing remedial actions; and the basis for a finding of imminent and substantial endangerment of public health or the environment.
bgs: Below ground surface
BRAC: Base re-alignment and closure
BTEX: Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene. These organic compounds are common constituents of vehicle fuels.
btu: British Thermal Unit


Carcinogen: A substance that can cause cancer.
Carbon Absorption: A treatment system in which contaminants are removed from groundwater or surface water as water is forced through tanks containing activated carbon, a specifically treated material that attracts contaminants.
CERCLA: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
CDI: Chronic daily intake
Clarifier: A component of a fluid processing plant that allows precipitates to settle out of a mixture.
Cleanup: Actions taken to deal with a release or threatened release of hazardous substance that could affect public health or the environment. The term "cleanup" is often used broadly to describe various response actions or phases of remedial response such as the remedial investigation/feasibility study.
Clean Water Act (CWA): Legislation regulating discharge of wastewater from industrial facilities and sewage treatment facilities such as publicly owned treatment works.
CMS: Corrective measures study
COC: Chemicals of concern
COI: Chemical of interest
Comment Period: A time period during which the public can review and comment on various documents and actions taken, either by the DOD installation or the USEPA. For example, a minimum 3-week comment period is held to allow community members to review and comment on a draft feasibility study.
Composite liner: Part of the base liner used in the construction of the disposal facility (cell) to prevent leachate from migrating out of the bottom of the cell. The composite liners will cover the bottom of the cell, excavation sidewalls, and the interior slope of the cell's perimeter.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA): A federal law passed in 1980 and amended in 1986 by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). The acts created a special tax that goes into a trust fund, commonly known as Superfund, to investigate and cleanup abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. SARA also established the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP). The DERP is funded by a special transfer account (DERA) These funds are used to clean up hazardous waste sites on DOD installations.
Contaminant: Any substance that degrades an environmental resource or makes it unfit or unsafe for its typical use.
Control Measures: Management methods and technologies that are applied for controlling and cleaning up hazardous waste sites (e.g., excavation, pump and treat, vapor extraction).
COPC: Chemicals of potential concern
COPEC: Chemicals of potential ecological concern
CSP: Charlestown State Park
CERCLA: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.


Defense Environmental Restoration Account (DERA): A fund established by Congress under SARA to fund DOD hazardous waste site cleanups.
Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP): General program for environmental cleanup at DOD facilities.
Decision Document (DD): A DOD document that records significant decisions, such as the selection of a remedial action.
DERA: Defense Environmental Restoration Account
DERP: Defense Environmental Restoration Program
DNT: Dinitrotoluene, a high explosive.
DOD: Department of Defense
DQCR: Data quality control reports
DQO: Data quality objectives


EA: Environmental assessment
EE/CA: Engineering evaluation/cost analysis.
EEQ: Environment exposure quotient
Effluent ponds: Ponds containing treated water.
EIS: Environmental impact statement.
EM Survey: Electromagnetic survey.
Endangerment Assessment: A study conducted as a supplement to a remedial investigation to determine the nature and extent of contamination at a site and the risks posed to public health and/or the environment. An endangerment assessment is conducted when legal action is pending to require potentially responsible parties to perform or pay for the site cleanup.
Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA): An analysis of removal alternatives for a site; similar to a remedial program feasibility study.
Environmental Assessment (EA): A study to determine whether environmental impacts are sufficient to warrant the preparation of an environmental impact statement or whether a finding of no significant impact should be issued.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): A document that serves as an action-forcing device to insure that the policies and goals defined in NEPA are included in the ongoing restoration programs. An EIS provides full discussions of significant environmental impacts and informs the public of alternatives that would avoid or minimize adverse impacts.
Environmental Restoration: The process of environmental cleanup designed to ensure that risks to the environment and to human health and safety from waste sites are either eliminated or reduced to prescribed, safe levels.
EPA: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
ERA: Ecological risk assessment
Equalization Basin: A reservoir that provides a consistent flow and uniform contaminant concentration to a water treatment plant.


Feasibility Study (FS): A study intended to identify and screen cleanup alternatives for remedial actions and analyze the technology and costs of the alternatives.
Federal Facility Agreement (FFA): An agreement between DOD, USEPA, and usually the state or territory to prioritize cleanup activities, assign agency roles, and establish procedures to document review and interaction among agency officials.
FFA: Federal facility agreement
FS: Feasibility study
FSP: Field sampling plan
FY: Fiscal year


Geomembrane: A product used in layers along with the geosynthetic clay liner as part of the disposal facility cover system.
Geosynthetic clay liner: A product used in layers as part of the disposal facility (cell) cover system.
GOCO: Government-owned, contractor-operated
gpm: Gallons per minute
Groundwater: Water found beneath the earth's surface that fills pores between materials such as sand, soil, or gravel. In aquifers, groundwater occurs in sufficient quantities that it can be used for drinking water, irrigation, and other purposes.


Hazard Ranking System (HRS): A scoring system used to evaluate potential relative risks to public health and the environment from releases of threatened releases of hazardous substance. USEPA and some states use the HRS to calculate a site score (from 0 to 100), i.e., the affect on people, based upon the actual or potential release of hazardous substances from a site through air, surface water, or groundwater. The HRS score is the primary factor used to decide if a hazardous waste site should be placed on the National Priority List. A score of 28.5 will cause a suspect site to be included on the list.
Hazardous Waste/Hazardous Substances: Any material that poses a threat to public health or the environment. Typical hazardous substances are material that are toxic, corrosive, ignitable, explosive, or chemically reactive.
Health and Safety Plan: A scope of work document is prepared during the phase of a CERCLA remediation that describes the measures that will be taken to ensure health and safety at the site.
Health Assessment: A study required by CERCLA that determines the potential risks to human health posed by the contaminants at a site.
Hydrology: The science dealing with the properties, movement, and effects of water on the earth's surface, in the soil and rocks below, and in the atmosphere.
Hydropunch Groundwater Sampling: A sampling method consisting of a hollow stainless steel pipe with a driving tip. This method is used to obtain groundwater samples for testing.
Heavy metal: A metal whose specific gravity is approximately 5.0 or higher. Examples are mercury, lead, silver, gold, and uranium.
HHRA: Human health risk assessment
HI: Hazard index
HOP: Hoosier Ordnance Plant
HQ: Hazard quotient


ICI: ICI Americas, Inc.
IDEM: Indiana Department of Environmental Management
IDNR: Indiana Department Natural Resources
Information Repository (IR): A file containing current information, technical reports, and reference documents regarding a Superfund or restoration site. The IR is usually located in a public building that is convenient for local residents to access, such as a public library, city hall, or school.
Installation Restoration Program (IRP): The IRP was established to identify, assess, investigate, and clean up hazardous waste at disposal sites used in the past. The IRP is the primary element making up the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP).
Inorganic: Materials composed of minerals, including elemental salts and metals such as iron, cadmium, mercury, and zinc.
Interim Remedial Action (IRA): An interim remedial action is an early action taken to mitigate contamination, such as a groundwater pump-and-treat system to prevent contaminant migration off site. An IRA is taken before final remedial action when the criteria for a removal action are not met. An IRA is generally taken during the RI/FS stage and may become the final action.
INAAP: Indiana Army Ammunition Plant
IOW: Indiana Ordnance Works Plant 1
IR: Information repository
IWPCB: Indiana Water Pollution Control Board
IWQC: Indiana Water Quality Criteria
IOWP: Indiana Ordnance Works Plant 2



Karst: A topography formed over limestone, dolomite, or gypsum and characterized by sinkholes, caves, and underground drainage.
kg: Kilogram


L/day: Liter per day
LAP: Load, assemble, and pack
Leach: To dissolve out by the action of a percolating liquid.
Leachate: A contaminated liquid resulting from water that percolates or trickles through waste materials and collects components of those wastes.
Leaching may occur at landfills and may result in hazardous substances entering soil, surface water, or groundwater.
Long Term Monitoring (LTM): A program of water, soil, or sediment analysis intended to track the migration (or non-migration) of contaminant.
Losing Stream: A stream, or reach of a stream, that loses water by seepage into the ground.


MCL: Maximum contaminant level
Migration: The movement of contaminants by means of air, surface water, or groundwater.
mg/day: milligrams per day
mg/kg: milligram per kilogram
mg/m3: milligram per cubic meter
Monitoring Wells: Special wells drilled a specific locations on or off a hazardous waste site to sample groundwater at selected depths. Samples can then be analyzed to determine the direction of groundwater flow and the type and concentration of contaminants present.
MW: Monitoring well


National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): NEPA requires federal agencies to consider environmental factors when making decisions and to evaluate environmental impacts prior to making decisions on major federal actions.
National Oil and Hazardous Substances Contingency Plan (NCP): The federal regulation that implements the Superfund program. It is frequently referred to as the National Contingency Plan.
NPDES: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.


Operation and Maintenance (O&M): Activities conducted at a site after a response action occurs to ensure that the cleanup or containment systems is functioning properly. Also, a funding mechanism for DOD activities separate from DERA.
Organic: Materials composed of carbon, including materials such as solvents, oil, and pesticides that are not easily dissolved in water.
Organic chemical: A carbon compound, especially one in which hydrogen is attached to carbon, whether derived from a living organism or not.


P&E: Propellants and Explosives
PA: Preliminary assessment
PAH: Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon
Parts per Billion (ppb)/Parts per Million (ppm): Units commonly used to express concentrations of contaminants. For example, 1 ounce of a substance in 1 illion ounces of water is 1 ppm. If one drop of a contaminant is mixed in a ompetition-sized swimming pool, the concentration would be about 1 ppb.
PCB: Polychlorinated biphenyl. A group of organic compounds having two ings of carbon atoms bonded together and two to 10 chlorine atoms attached to he rings. PCBs were used as a fire retardant and were commonly found lectrical components (especially transformers) until problems of persistence nd toxicity became known. PCBs do not easily degrade and are suspected arcinogens.
Perched: Perched groundwater occurs whenever a body of groundwater is separated from the main groundwater by a relatively impermeable stratum of small areal extent and by the zone of aeration above the main body of groundwater.
Permeability: The relative ease with which a porous medium can transmit a liquid under a hydraulic gradient. In hydrology, the capacity of rock, soil, or sediment to allow the passage of water.
ppb: Parts per billion
ppm: Parts per million
Public: Citizens directly affected by a site and other interested citizens, parties, or organized groups.
PVC: Polyvinyl chloride
Preliminary Assessment (PA): The process of collecting and reviewing available information about a known or suspected hazardous waste site or release. This information is used to determine if the site requires further study. If further study is needed a site inspection is undertaken.
Proposed Plan (PP): A short document (about four pages) that summarizes the remedial alternatives in the RI/FS and identifies and provides rationale for the preferred alternative. It is released with the FS for a 30-day public comment period.


QA: Quality assurance
QAPP: Quality assurance project plan
QC: Quality control
Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPP): A plan developed as part of the site sampling and analysis plan (SAP). It includes procedures and protocols to be used to ensure the quality of specific project activities.
Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC): A system of procedures, checks, audits, and corrective actions used to ensure that field work and laboratory analysis during the investigation and cleanup of Superfund and IRP sites meet established standards.


RA: Remedial action
RAP: Remedial action plan
RCRA: Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
RCRA Facility Assessment (RFA): An initial site assessment that involves gathering data about a site, including release information, to determine whether a cleanup may be necessary. RFAs usually include a file review of site information, and a visual site inspection for evidence of releases.
RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI): An investigation that characterizes the nature and extent of contamination at a site. Results of an RFI may be used to support selection and implementation of a remedy or remedies or, if necessary, interim measures.
RD: Remedial design
Record of Decision (ROD): A public document that explains which cleanup alternative will be used. The ROD is based on information and technical analysis generated during the remedial investigation/feasibility study and consideration of public comments and community concerns.
Release: The accidental or deliberate emission of contaminants into the environment.
Remedial Action (RA): RA as defined by CERCLA is the measures taken to clean up a site (e.g., to pump and treat contaminated groundwater). Interim remedial actions are actions taken before the final remedial action when the criteria for removal are not met.
Remedial Action Plan (RAP): Strategy for correction of a site or operation that is not in compliance with regulatory requirements.
Remedial Design (RD): An engineering phase that follows the ROD when technical drawings and specifications are developed for the subsequent remedial action at a site.
Remedial Investigation (RI): A field investigation intended to gather data necessary to determine the type and concentration and extent of contamination at a site in sufficient detail to select a remedial alternative and establish criteria for cleaning up the site. The RI usually contains a risk assessment as well.
Remedial Project Manager (RPM): The DOD, USEPA, and/or state officials responsible for overseeing remedial response activities.
Remedial Response: A long-term action that stops or substantially reduces a release or threatened release of hazardous substance that is serious but does not pose an immediate threat to public health or the environment.
Removal Action: An immediate action taken over the short term to address a release or threatened release of hazardous substances.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA): A federal law that established a regulatory system to track hazardous substances from the time of generation to disposal. The law requires safe and secure procedures to be used treating, transporting, storing, and disposing of hazardous substances. RCRA is designed to prevent new, uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
Responsiveness Summary: A summary of oral and written public comments received by the lead agency during a comment period on key documents and the lead agency's responses to those comments. The responsiveness summary is particularly valuable during the ROD phase of a site when it highlights community concerns for decision makers.
Restoration: The application of containment or decontamination technologies to eliminate existing public hazards or to render the property acceptable for conditional or unconditional uses.
RfD: Reference dose
RFA: RCRA facility assessment
RFI: RCRA facility investigation
RI: Remedial investigation
Risk Assessment: An evaluation usually performed as part of the remedial investigation to assess conditions at a site and determine the risk posed to public health and the environment.
Runoff: Rainfall and snowmelt that does not soak into the ground, does not evaporate immediately, and is not used by vegetation, hence flows over the land surface.


Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP): A scope of work plan developed to guide sampling and quality assurance work. It consists of a quality assurance project plan and a field sampling plan. It is required by CERCLA.
SAP: Sampling and analysis plan
SARA: Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act
Service Center: A service center is a Department of Defense organization that provides Installation Restoration Program technical expertise and contract management support. A service agent provides similar services but is an organization outside of Department of Defense.
SI: Site investigation
Sinkhole: A funnel shaped depression in the land surface, generally in a limestone region, communicating with a subterranean passage developed by solution.
Site (Installation Restoration Program): Any recognized location on or under the jurisdiction of a Department of Defense installation that has been identified for cleanup under Defense Environmental Restoration Account. A site is the basic unit for planning and implementing response actions. A Department of Defense installation usually contains numerous Installation Restoration Program sites.
Site Characterization Report: A report that defines the nature, extent, and potential impact on health and environment of the contamination. Field investigation, sampling and laboratory analysis are used to characterize waste types, mixtures, and volumes at a site, as well as the media (air, water, or soil) in which they occur.
Site Closed (Closeout): A site is considered closed when the regulators agree that actions necessary to remediate the site have been completed.
Site Investigation (SI): A technical phase that follows a preliminary assessment designed to collect more extensive information on a hazardous waste site. The main difference between a PA and an SI is that the SI includes on-site inspection and sampling to determine if there are potential impacts to human health or the environment.
Site Monitoring Plan (SMP): A plan specifying the procedures and requirements by which a long term or post-closure monitoring program is implemented.
Site Safety Plan (SSP): A plan developed in response to site-specific data to protect on-site personnel and surrounding communities from the physical, chemical, and/or biological hazards present during remediation.
Solubility: The ability or tendency of one substance to blend uniformly with another.
Solvent: A substance, usually liquid, capable of dissolving or dispersing one or more other substances.
SOP: Standard operating procedure
Statement of Work (SOW): A document that specifies contractor efforts needed to conduct and document various stages of a task and to describe the selected site control measures.
Superfund: The common name used for CERCLA. Officially, the name used for the trust fund established to clean up the worst privately-owned hazardous waste sites.
Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA): This legislation contained modifications to CERCLA; it was enacted on 17 October 1986.
Surface Water: Bodies of water that are above ground, such as rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams.
SVOC: Semi-volatile organic compound


TNT: 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene
Toxicology: The study of the nature, effects, and detection of contaminants and the treatment thereof.
TPH: Total petroleum hydrocarbons
TRV: Toxicity reference value


µg/kg: Microgram per kilogram
µg/L: Microgram per liter
µg/m3: Microgram per cubic meter
Underground Storage Tank (UST): Any tank or associated piping containing hazardous materials as defined by the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments to RCRA.
URSGWC: URS Greiner Woodward Clyde
USACE: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
USATHAMA: U.S. Army Toxic and Hazardous Materials Agency
USCS: Unified soil classification system
USDA: U.S. Department of Agriculture
USEPA: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
USGS: U.S. Geologic Survey
UST: Underground storage tank


Volatile Organic Compound (VOC): An organic (carbon-containing) compound that evaporates readily at room temperature.


Watershed: A geographic region from which water drains into a given river, river system, or other body of water.
Water table: The surface in an unconfined aquifer or confining bed at which the pore water pressure is equal to atmospheric pressure.
W-C: Woodward-Clyde
Work Plan: A detailed plan for conducting the investigation of the areas of contamination and for evaluating remedial alternatives for cleaning up these areas. A work plan establishes what media will be sampled; how the samples will be collected and analyzed; how the level of risk from the contaminant will be evaluated; how treatment technologies and remedial alternatives will be identified and evaluated; and which criteria will be used to select the method of cleanup.