Partners in Technical Assistance Program (PTAP)


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Background Information

The Partners in Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) expands opportunities for cooperation between EPA and colleges and universities, with the shared goal of assessing and addressing the unmet technical assistance needs of impacted communities near Superfund sites.

Through PTAP, colleges and universities cooperate with EPA and voluntarily commit to assist these communities. At this time, interested NIEHS Superfund Research Program grantees may join PTAP as partners by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). They may then collaborate with EPA to assist communities impacted by brownfields, Superfund sites, or Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) facilities. PTAP partners may also assist communities with technical assistance needs related to activities under various EPA programs and offices, including the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) and the Office of Water (OW).

Meeting Community Needs

A community’s technical assistance needs may include:

  • Information assistance and expertise.
  • Education assistance.
  • Capacity-building assistance for community organizations.
  • Mediation or conflict resolution services.

Examples of technical assistance services include:

  • Providing basic information about science and environmental programs.
  • Reviewing and explaining technical reports.
  • Researching and explaining technical and scientific issues.
  • Researching and explaining public health and risk.
  • Assisting with community outreach and involvement.
  • Training on environmental issues.
  • Facilitating redevelopment planning.
  • Supporting formation of groups to enable communities to receive technical assistance.
  • Building capacities of community groups.
  • Providing neutral facilitation and mediation services.
  • Providing dispute resolution services.

EPA staff or contractors may conduct Technical Assistance Needs Assessments (TANAs) with communities in order to determine a community's unaddressed technical assistance needs. Information from the TANA is summarized in a publicly available document. PTAP partners interested in assisting the community with its technical assistance needs may contact EPA staff responsible for the TANA.

In certain circumstances (e.g., technical assistance needs are urgent, or a community's needs are limited and easily defined), a formal TANA may not be conducted. In this situation, a document listing the community’s technical assistance needs may be generated by EPA staff or contractors and distributed to PTAP partners to identify potential collaboration opportunities.

Community Benefits

PTAP efforts may result in new partnerships between communities, EPA and PTAP members to address local technical assistance needs efficiently and effectively. PTAP partners may:

  • Provide capacity-building assistance to existing community organizations, including: developing ways to increase the organization’s membership; providing assistance with broader community outreach; or connecting the organization with similar community organizations around the country.
  • Provide technical assistance and expertise to impacted communities.

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PTAP Partners

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Current PTAP Partners

EPA Region 1:
Boston University
Brown University
Dartmouth College
Harvard School of Public Health
Northeastern University

EPA Region 3:
University of Pennsylvania

EPA Region 4:
Duke University
University of Kentucky
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

EPA Region 5:
Michigan State University

EPA Region 6:
Louisiana State University

EPA Region 7:
University of Iowa

EPA Region 9:
University of Arizona
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Davis
University of California, San Diego

EPA Region 10:
Oregon State University
University of Washington

PTAP Partner Responsibilities

Through PTAP, colleges and universities work with EPA and voluntarily commit to assist communities with their unaddressed technical assistance needs. PTAP partner responsibilities include:

  1. Providing technical assistance to communities, including:
    • Information assistance and expertise.
    • Community education services.
    • Organizational capacity-building assistance.
    • Mediation or conflict resolution services.
  2. Submitting a report each year summarizing partner activities and the types of assistance provided through PTAP.
  3. Communicating and cooperating with EPA efforts to publicize the partnership.

PTAP Partner Benefits

Superfund Research Program (SRP) Applicants and Grantees

PTAP participation benefits SRP grant applicants and grantees by:

  • Aiding SRP grantees in determining the technical assistance needs of a community impacted by a site.
  • Assisting SRP grantees in meeting the requirement of establishing community partnerships for Community Engagement Core activities.
  • Opening lines of communication between an SRP grantee, impacted communities and nonprofit organizations.
  • Assisting an SRP grantee in engaging a community early in the remedial/removal process.
  • Ensuring that SRP community engagement activities are effectively coordinated with EPA.
  • Streamlining the process of establishing partnerships between EPA and SRP grantees (as required of all SRP grant recipients under their Research Translation Core).
  • Providing SRP trainees with opportunities to collaborate with communities.

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PTAP in Communities

The first PTAP project was a collaboration with the Oregon State University Superfund Research Program (SRP) at the Black Butte Mine site.

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Colleges and Universities Interested in Joining PTAP

At this time, interested NIEHS Superfund Research Program grantees may join PTAP as partners by signing an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Communities Interested in PTAP Support

EPA provides assistance to communities through a variety of technical assistance and training resources. These resources help communities participate in Superfund decision-making.

Community members may also contact EPA community involvement coordinators (CICs) for site-specific assistance.

Contact Information

Melissa Dreyfus
Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, MC 5204P
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC, 20460

Fax: 703-603-8792

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