EPA withdrawn a direct final rule National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; Revision to Increase Public Availability of the Administrative Record File because the agency received an adverse comment on the rule. The rule, which was published November 2012, would have addressed advancements in technologies used to manage and convey information to the public. The proposed rule added language to EPA regulations to broaden the technology, including computer telecommunications or other electronic means, that the agency is permitted to use to make the administrative record file available to the public. Since the EPA said the rule would be withdrawn if the agency received an adverse comment, a separate proposed rule was published along with the direct final rule, and the agency plans to finalize the parallel proposed rule at a later time.

According to EPA, these updates would have allowed the agency to serve a broader population, while still allowing more traditional means of public access to the administrative record file, such as paper copies and microform. Currently, administrative record files are made available to the public “at or near the facility at issue” or in a docket containing the administrative record file at the regional office or other central location.

The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), sets guidelines and procedures for responding to releases or substantial threats of releases of hazardous substances into the environment, and releases or substantial threats of releases into the environment of any pollutant or contaminant that may present an imminent or substantial danger to public health or welfare. CERCLA requires the lead agency to establish an administrative record containing the documents that explain all response actions taken and establish procedures for the appropriate participation of interested persons in the development of the record.

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