United States
                        Environmental Protection
                         Solid Waste and
                         Emergency Response
Publication 9230.0-28AFS
August 1996
 Community  Advisory Groups
 (CAGs)  at  Superfund  Sites
Office of Emergency and Remedial Response
Community Involvement and Outreach Center (5204G)
                                                 Quick Reference Fact Sheet
                       The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is committed to early, direct, and
                       meaningful public involvement in the Superfund process. One of the ways communities can
                       participate in site cleanup decisions is by forming a Community Advisory Group (CAG). A
                       CAG is made up of representatives of diverse community interests. Its purpose is to provide a
                       public forum for community members to present and discuss their needs and concerns related
                       to the Superfund decision-making process. EPA's Guidance for Community Advisory Groups
                       at Superfund Sites (OSWER Directive 9230.0-28) was issued in December 1995 for Commu-
                       nity Involvement Coordinators (CICs) and Site Managers to encourage the use of CAGs and to
                       promote a better understanding of CAGs at Superfund sites. This fact sheet summarizes the
                       main points in the guidance.
      CAG Scope of
A CAG can help EPA and the public make better decisions on how to clean up a site.
It offers EPA a unique opportunity to hear—and seriously consider—community pref-
erences for site cleanup and remediation. The existence of a CAG does not eliminate the
need for the Agency to keep the community informed about plans and decisions through-
out the Superfund process.
    Determining the
     Need for a CAG
The impetus for establishing a CAG should come from the community, and CAGs
may not be appropriate for every site. CAGs may be beneficial at removal sites, par-
ticularly non-time-critical removal sites, as well as sites involved in long-term clean-
ups, and they can be formed at any point in the cleanup process. The earlier a CAG is
formed, however, the more its members can participate in and affect site activities and
cleanup decisions. EPA may assist communities in determining the need for a CAG by
helping them evaluate the level of community interest in site activities and examine if
there is an existing broad-based group that might function as a CAG, or if there are too
many competing interests to make forming a truly representative CAG a realistic op-
       Preparing To
        Form a CAG
A CAG information meeting can be used to introduce the CAG concept to the commu-
nity. In advance of this meeting, EPA, in conjunction with appropriate State, Tribal, or
local governments, should inform and educate the community about the purposes of a
CAG and the opportunities for participating in it. This is especially important at sites
where there has been relatively limited community participation in the Superfund process.

Because every site is different, techniques appropriate for educating the public about
CAGs will vary from site to site. No matter what methods are used, the information
provided must be understandable to the community. In many cases, news releases,
fact sheets, and public notices in the local news media may be useful for disseminat-
ing information about CAGs. Other outreach options—such as flyers, announcements
in churches, and personal contacts with community groups or individual citizens—
also may be used.

   CAG Information  EPA may sponsor the CAG Information Meeting and, in consultation with the appro-
             Meeting  priate State/Tribal/local governments, should schedule it as early as possible in the
                        cleanup process. The meeting should be held in a central, accessible location and at a
                        convenient time for community members. The agenda for the meeting should reflect
                        important community concerns raised in relation to the Superfund response. The
                        agenda also may include discussions about the purpose and mission of the CAG, the
                        process and timetable for selecting members, member responsibilities,,CAG Operating
                        Procedures, the status of site cleanup plans, and the interface between the CAG and
                        other EPA community involvement activities.

       CAG Startup  Although the interval will vary from site to site, EPA should encourage CAGs to be in
                        full operation within six months after the CAG Information Meeting in order to maxi-
                        mize their effectiveness in the Superfund decision-making process. In the interim, the
                        Agency can assist the community in determining the appropriate size and composition
                        of the CAG, soliciting nominees, and selecting CAG members.

   Size of the CAG  The size of a CAG will depend on the needs of the affected community. While it often
                        is difficult to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate and to achieve clo-
                        sure in large groups, the CAG should include enough members to adequately reflect
                        the diversity of community interests regarding site cleanup and reuse. Typically CAGs
                        have approximately 15-20 members.

CAG  Composition  To the extent possible, membership in the CAG should reflect the composition of the
                        community near the site and the diversity of racial, ethnic, and economic interests in
                        the community. At least half of the CAG members should be members of the local
                        community. CAG members should be drawn from among residents and owners of resi-
                        dential property near the site; others who may be directly affected by site releases; Na-
                        tive American tribes and communities; minority and low-income groups; local
                        environmental or public interest groups; local government units; local labor represen-
                        tatives; and local businesses. If an EPA Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) has been
                        awarded for the site, EPA should encourage that a representative of the TAG group
                        also be included on the CAG to facilitate information sharing between the two groups.
                        Facility owners and other PRPs also may be included, but the community may choose
                        to limit the number or designate them as ex officio  members.

     CAG  Member   EPA may begin to advise the community about opportunities for CAG membership as
        Solicitation   part of outreach efforts (the CAG fact sheet and any public notices and news releases)
                        prior to the CAG Information Meeting. The information  also should be made available
                        through the local information repositories and posted at information kiosks and com-
                        munity centers. It may be necessary to focus solicitations for specific groups. For ex-
                        ample, the EPA could send a letter to selected groups representing diverse interests.

     CAG  Member   CAG members may be selected in a number of ways. For example:
                        • In some cases, CAGs may be self-selecting. That is, individuals who believe they
                         represent the diverse interests of their community could nominate themselves.

                     •  An existing group in the community—such as a group with a history of involvement
                       at the Superfund site—could be selected as the CAG for that community if it
                       represents diverse interests.
                     •  The local government could select, in a fair and open manner, members of the
                       community to serve on the CAG.
                     •  EPA, with  State/Tribal/local governments, could assist the community in organizing
                       a Screening Panel to review nominations for CAG membership. EPA could review
                       (not approve/disapprove) the Panel's list of nominees and offer advice, as needed, to
                       ensure all community interests are represented.
                     •  EPA, with  the appropriate State/Tribal/local governments, could select a Core Group
                       that represents the diverse interests of the community. Members of this Core Group
                       then could  select the remaining members of the CAG in a fair and open manner.

                     Because each community is unique, selection methods will vary; a formal process may
                     not be necessary in every case. The key is to ensure that the CAG will be fully repre-
                     sentative of the community and will be able to function effectively as a group.
   CAG Member   Many of those selected as members of the CAG may require some initial training to
         Training   enable them to perform their duties. EPA may work with State/Tribal agencies, local
                     government(s), local universities, PRP(s), and others to provide training, prepare
                     briefing materials, and conduct site tours for new CAG members.
       Roles and   Generally, CAG members should be expected to participate in CAG meetings, provide
Responsibilities   data and information to EPA on site issues, and share information with their fellow
                     community members. They must be prepared to fairly and honestly represent not only
                     their own personal views but also those of the community members they represent.

                     CAG members may select a Chairperson from within their ranks and determine an
                     appropriate term of office. The primary functions of the CAG Chairperson are to
                     conduct CAG meetings in a manner that encourages open and constructive participa-
                     tion by all members; to ensure that all pertinent community concerns are raised for
                     consideration and discussion; and to attempt, whenever possible, to achieve consensus
                     among CAG members.

                     EPA, as the lead Superfund Agency, should provide the CAG with information and
                     technical expertise on site cleanup and facilitate discussion of issues and concerns
                     relative to Superfund actions. The Agency should listen and respond to views ex-
                     pressed by CAG members, giving them substantial consideration when making site
                     decisions, especially when views are those of most or all CAG members. Even though
                     they are not CAG members, EPA's Site Manager and CIC should attend CAG meet-
                     ings on a consistent basis to demonstrate the Agency's commitment to meaningful.
                     public participation in the cleanup process.  Representatives of other pertinent Federal
                     agencies, and State/Tribal/local governments also should attend CAG meetings
                     regularly and serve as information resources for the CAG.

  CAG Operation
Each CAG should develop a Mission Statement describing the CAG's specific pur-
pose, scope, goals, and objectives. Each CAG also should develop a set of procedures
to guide day-to-day operations. These procedures should address such topics as how
to fill membership vacancies; how often to hold meetings; and the process for review-
ing and commenting on documents and other materials.
   CAG Meetings
CAG meetings should be open to the public. The meetings should be announced
publicly (via display ads in newspapers, flyers, etc.) well enough in advance to encour-
age maximum participation of CAG and community members. CAG members should
determine the frequency and location of CAG meetings based on the needs at their
particular site. The format for CAG meetings may vary depending on the needs of the
CAG. A basic meeting format might include an update on site status by the project's
technical staff; discussion of current issues; a question/answer session that includes
audience participation; review of "action items," and discussion of the next meeting's
  CAG Response
     to Requests
   for Comments
EPA should consider making all documents available to the CAG for the same length
of time as it does for State/Tribal and peer review groups. EPA should explain, how-
ever, that the comment period for some documents may have to be less than 30 days.
In those cases, the CAG should be ready to complete its review and provide comments
in the shorter time period. The Agency may have the opportunity to respond to many
CAG comments on key documents and other issues during CAG meeting discussions,
but, unless otherwise stated, these responses should not be considered part of the
formal Agency "Response to Comments" (as required under CERCLA and the NCP).
      Support for
         the CAG
EPA, together with State/Tribal/local government(s), local universities, the PRP(s),
and others, may assist the CAG with administrative support on issues relevant to the
Superfund site cleanup and decision-making process. This may include support for
arranging and documenting meetings, preparing and distributing meeting notices and
agendas, duplicating site-related documents for CAG review, maintaining CAG
mailing/distribution lists, and providing translation and meeting facilitation services
when needed. If meeting facilitation is needed, it is preferable to use someone from the
community with facilitation experience or a professional meeting facilitator.  A neutral
facilitator is particularly effective at sites where some controversy is anticipated.
CAG information
Additional information about CAGs is available in the Guidance for Community
Advisory Groups at Superfund Sites (OSWER Directive 9230.0-28). Case studies of
CAGs at sites in five Regions  also are available. For information, please call the
Superfund Information Hotline at 800-535-0202 or to place an order, fax your request
to the Superfund Document Center at 703-603-9240.