Technical Assistance to EPA
primary technical assistance provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s
(Service) New York Field Office (NYFO) to the United States Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) is by representation on the BTAG and by directing additional
expertise on a wide range of ecological issues to the EPA through our
1 & 2
Examples of cross-beaked birds from chlorinated hydrocarbons,
3.Fish tumor from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
is a BTAG?
EPA Regions have established groups of scientists to advise and
assist their site managers with ecological studies produced in conjunction
with Remedial Investigations, Feasibility Studies, and Removal Actions
at Superfund sites. In general these groups are known as Biological
Technical Assistance Groups or BTAGs.
Waste barrels in Oswego, NY
Comprehensive Environmental Restoration, Compensation, and Liability
Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund, and the National Oil and
Hazardous Materials Contingency Plan (NCP) mandate that remedial
actions at hazardous waste sites protect both human health and the
In December 1988, the Directors of EPA’s Office of Emergency
and Remedial Response and Office of Waste Programs Enforcement issued
a memorandum directing all EPA Regional Offices to perform "thorough
and consistent" ecological assessments at all Superfund sites.
The memorandum also encouraged the Regions to establish BTAGs since
every site presents a unique combination of biological, hydrological,
geological, and chemical characteristics. EPA site managers
are responsible for overseeing a wide range of activities and cannot
be expected to have expertise in all the necessary scientific areas.
BTAGs serve the function of providing the necessary advice and review
of a wide range of ecological information.
is on the BTAG?
are composed of scientists from a variety of disciplines, including wildlife
biology, geology, hydrology, risk assessment, and wetlands science.
The specific composition of each BTAG varies among EPA Regions.
A BTAG Coordinator from the EPA Region maintains regular contact
with BTAG members and facilitates the consolidation of information and
the transfer of appropriate advice to the site managers either through
memoranda or meetings. EPA Region 2, which includes New York, New Jersey,
Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, has on its BTAG members from
within the EPA Region (including a wetlands scientist, an ecological risk
assessor, and a program compliance specialist) and representatives from
the Service, NOAA, and the two states (NY and NJ). The Service, NOAA,
and the State are collectively referred to as the Trustees because of
their special charge to protect the natural resources for the people of
the country (or State). The representatives from these Trustee agencies
provide technical expertise regarding the ecological resources at a Superfund
site and in the field of environmental contaminants including ecological
risk assessment that may be impacting the ecological resources at or
near the Site. The NYFO representative is a Fish and Wildlife Biologist
from the Environmental Quality Branch of the NYFO and serves in
a full-time capacity to the BTAG. The presence of individuals from these
organizations on the BTAG does not constitute Trustee notification as
required by CERCLA.
does the BTAG Do?
BTAG functions primarily in an advisory and review capacity, although
individual BTAG members, or the agency they represent, may provide
additonal services to support the ecological activities. In
the NYFO the BTAG representative not only provides input to the
BTAG but in complicated cases can generate additional expert technical
assistance from specialists in such areas as endangered species,
wetlands impacts, and habitat restoration activities from within
the NYFO and from other individuals or groups in the Service, Department
of the Interior, or academia.
big is the Superfund issue?
New York State alone there are about 100 Superfund sites on the
active National Priorities List. This number is the second
largest number for any state with the exception of New Jersey.
Remediation at some of the largest of these sites may cost more
than 500 million dollars. Contamination from these sites impacts
numerous small creeks and wetlands throughout New York State as
well as major resources such as the Niagara, Hudson, Saint Lawrence,
and Grasse Rivers and Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and Onondaga Lake.
The effect and appropriate remediation of the Superfund sites is
the first step in the Service's role of protecting and restoring
natural resources at Superfund sites. After the site is remediated,
we still have responsibility as a natural resource Trustee.
The more complete the remedy conducted under Superfund, the less
the residual injury that we must deal with under Natural Resource
Damage Assessment (see NRDA at this web site for a more detailed
description of the issue).
Where can I get more information regarding Superfund Sites in New York State?
maintains a current web site at http://www.epa.gov/region02/cleanup/sites/nytoc_sitename.htm
 Information regarding
the BTAG in this section is taken directly or paraphrased from EPA ECO
Update v.1 no.1.
FWS Contaminants Home Page • FWS Contaminants Northeast Region