NOTE: The EPA TOSC and TOSNAC programs ended on August 31, 2006. The TAB program continues to serve brownfields efforts. KSU may continue to provide technical assistance at Superfund and Native American sites through other programs.
As a courtesy to the CCI CAG, the KSU CHSR is continuing to post documents to the Chemical Commodities, Inc. Superfund Site, Olathe, KS webpage hosted under TOSC sites.
Communities seeking technical assistance should contact:
- Belinda Young in EPA Region 7’s office (for help in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, or Iowa) at 913-551-7463 and Young.Belinda@epa.gov;
- Cheryl Allen in EPA Region 5’s office (for help in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio) at 312-353-6196 and Cheryl.Allen@epa.gov; or
- Karen Martin at EPA Headquarters at 703-603-9925, Martin.Karenl@epa.gov; or
- EPA personnel identified at the bottom of each TOSC Site description page.
Is there a hazardous waste site in your community? Do you have questions about health, risk, and cleanup technologies? Have you looked for answers only to find volumes of complex technical data you didn't understand? Do you just want to know what it all means? The Technical Outreach Services for Communities program can help.
Our researchers and professionals in the hazardous substance field can provide valuable information to your community. We can help your community understand risk and health issues. We'll explain the science and engineering involved in cleanup efforts. We'll even help you work with your state agency and the EPA.
Our mission is to empower communities with an independent understanding of the underlying technical issues related to hazardous substance contamination so that they may participate substantively in the decision-making process.
The primary function of the TOSC program is to bring university educational and technical resources to communities affected by hazardous substance contamination. This is based on the premise that an understanding of the underlying technical issues is a basic requirement for meaningful citizen participation in the decision-making process to address such problems. Universities are best suited for carrying out this mission because of their combination of independence, technical expertise, research capabilities, and experience in providing similar extension services to communities.
While education is the primary focus of the program, it may also be appropriate for TOSC personnel to facilitate communication among stakeholders and to offer scientific opinions on specific issues, when these activities serve to enhance education. TOSC personnel are not stakeholders, or the agents of stakeholders, and are therefore expected to remain neutral in their interactions with the community. Every effort will be made to distinguish between issues of science and issues of policy.
Flexibility is essential to ensure that each TOSC project addresses the unique set of concerns present in a particular community. Nonetheless, a common approach to the process has been developed and will be followed for each project to ensure quality and efficient use of resources. This includes institutional mechanisms for evaluation and feedback on each project by all project stakeholders as part of a system for continual improvement of the TOSC program.
Specific activities will be tailored to the needs of the community under an agreement developed between TOSC personnel and community representatives. Attention will normally be given to providing a base of fundamental scientific information, interpreting and summarizing reports, clarifying the regulatory process in general and as it relates to the site, addressing specific site contamination issues including extent of contamination, contaminant dynamics, exposure and health considerations, ecological considerations, and potential remediation technologies. Every effort will be made to select appropriate educational techniques including distribution of written material, public meetings, workshops, electronic tools, and local media. In carrying out this activity, TOSC will remain outside the decision-making process and avoid taking an advocacy position or making substantive recommendations. Further, it is not the role of TOSC to serve as an organizational point or process focus for community involvement.
Each of the five regional TOSC programs in the U.S. has developed a site selection process by which sites are nominated and reviewed for suitability, and a decision of whether to work with the community is reached. Referrals from EPA regional offices and state regulatory agencies are primary factors in this process. For the communities selected, a needs assessment is performed to determine the educational needs, the most suitable delivery mechanisms, and the key stakeholders. This routinely results in an assistance agreement in which resources are committed by both the TOSC program and the community. The delivery process is complemented by development and implementation of a communication strategy to ensure the effort is widely accessible.
We provide a variety of services to interested citizens in our region:
Our hazardous substance information line is the place to start. We'll do our best to find answers for you. Do you need help in preparing a steering committee? Would you like information about our other outreach services? Do you just have a question about hazardous substances? Use the information line.
Would a workshop be more helpful? Our professionals will travel to your community for a single day or evening meeting, workshop, or session. We'll tailor the presentation to issues specific to your site. We'll even filter out the technical and regulatory jargon.
Do you need help preparing comments on a proposed action? Our researchers can provide the most recent insights on science and technology. We'll help you review the important documents. We'll also help you prepare written comments to present to regulators.
Would a public education initiative better meet your needs? We provide a variety of other services. If the activities mentioned aren't what you want, contact us to discuss how we can help.
TOSC projects that provide technical and educational outreach to communities with hazardous substance problems should be developed in partnership with the community and should be reflected in a TOSC/community agreement. Such an agreement should state the intent of the project and the commitments to be made by both TOSC and the community. A TOSC/community agreement must provide a clear understanding of the plan of action and the limitations of TOSC involvement, and must reflect trust between the participants. It should be based on three major components: principles of a TOSC/community partnership, community evaluation, and agreement format.
A partnership between a community and TOSC is "two-way." TOSC will contribute valuable, independent, and necessary information and expertise to assist the community in addressing hazardous waste problems. The community will contribute knowledge, expertise, and time.
A TOSC/community partnership reflects a commitment to fostering and sustaining a relationship for the time period required for meeting the needs of the community.
A TOSC/community partnership is an opportunity for TOSC to learn ways to continuously improve its technical assistance outreach.
TOSC/community partnerships are characterized by the principles of trust, neutrality, and flexibility.
Members of a community can have diverse and conflicting interests and agendas that can result in widely varied evaluations of the project. The evaluation discussed below should come from the community group that is a party to the TOSC/community agreement. The group should strive to reflect valid concerns and problems of the community at large.
The method of evaluation can and should vary, both during the course of a project and among projects and communities. In some instances, evaluation might take the form of a community meeting, while in others a simple telephone conversation between a community group leader and the TOSC project manager might be sufficient.
Threshold Criteria: A community must have one of the following site problems in order to be eligible for TOSC selection:
Balancing Criteria: Pending verification of the aforementioned situations, the following criteria can make a specific community more or less likely to be selected for assistance.
If there is a hazardous waste site in your community, you're eligible to participate in this program. We'd like to help your community work together on hazardous waste problems. Assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
Please contact the TOSC Program at the Center for Hazardous Substance Research (CHSR) for information on technical support for communities.
Please have the following information available when you call:
We encourage you to work with others in your community to coordinate your requests. If you have questions or difficulties in establishing a work group, please call for assistance.
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Last modified March 28, 2012