What is a Facility Closure Checklist, and How to Make One?

What is a Facility Closure Checklist And How To Make One

Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Ossian Muscad

When closing down a facility, it’s essential to ensure that you follow a set of tasks to prevent contamination of the environment. That’s why, for this matter, a facility closure checklist is an excellent tool to have. If you haven’t closed down a facility before, you might not know how the process works or how to create and utilize a facility closure checklist. If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered!

This article will discuss everything you need to know about creating and implementing a facility closure checklist. A systematic process for facility closure will help ensure that your business complies with all applicable regulations.


What is a Facility Closure?

A facility closure involves the process of shutting down a facility or site, and it is not as straightforward as it might seem. It encompasses a detailed set of tasks aimed at the proper disposal of hazardous wastes and materials present at the site. The primary objective of these tasks is to mitigate any risk of contamination in the immediate vicinity and the broader environment. This is a critical step to ensure that the closure does not have adverse effects on local ecosystems or public health.

Therefore, when you’re in the process of closing down a facility, having a comprehensive checklist is indispensable. This checklist acts as a roadmap, outlining each step that needs to be undertaken to ensure the closure is conducted responsibly and in compliance with all environmental regulations. It serves as a guide to systematically track and complete all the necessary procedures for a proper and safe facility closure.


Why is Facility Closure Important?

Facility closure is not just a procedural formality; it’s a critical operation that carries significant environmental and safety implications. Beyond simply being a requirement under federal law, conducting a proper shutdown process is paramount in protecting our natural surroundings from potential hazards. By meticulously disposing of hazardous wastes and materials, we play a vital part in averting pollution and the resultant contamination of air, water, and soil.

This conscientious approach not only safeguards our planet for future generations but also ensures the well-being and safety of the workforce involved in the closure process. Implementing a comprehensive checklist is instrumental in achieving these objectives, as it verifies that all essential safety measures are accurately followed, thereby minimizing risks associated with facility decommissioning.


Sites That Benefit from Facility Closure

Various types of sites can significantly benefit from a well-structured facility closure process. The implementation of a closure checklist ensures these sites are decommissioned responsibly, minimizing environmental and health risks. Below are key examples of such sites:

  • Manufacturing Plants: Often handle hazardous materials; a facility closure checklist ensures harmful substances are disposed of correctly, reducing risks of soil and water contamination.
  • Chemical Laboratories: Use a wide range of chemicals that can be dangerous if released into the environment; a closure checklist helps in cataloging and safely disposing of these substances.
  • Medical Facilities: Generate biohazardous waste that requires careful handling; a structured closure process ensures these materials are treated and disposed of in compliance with health regulations.
  • Mining Sites: Can leave behind significant environmental damage; employing a closure checklist aids in addressing issues like land rehabilitation and water treatment to prevent contamination.
  • Power Plants: Especially those dealing with nuclear or chemical energy sources, present unique challenges upon closure; a checklist ensures all radioactive or hazardous materials are safely contained or removed.


Types of Facility Closure

Facility closures vary greatly depending on the operational nature of the site and the types of waste it handles. This variability directly influences how waste disposal is managed during the shutdown process. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are two primary types of facility closure based on waste disposal methods.

Clean Closure

Clean Closure is an environmentally responsible method of facility closure that involves extensive measures to ensure the complete removal or remediation of hazardous wastes from a site prior to its shutdown. This process is meticulous and comprehensive, focusing on eliminating any potential source of contamination that can harm the environment. It includes not only the safe disposal of hazardous substances but also, when necessary, the decontamination or removal of contaminated soils and equipment within the facility.

The goal of Clean Closure is to restore the site as closely as possible to its original state, reducing environmental damage and minimizing future health risks. This method aligns with stringent environmental regulations and is often mandated by law, requiring detailed planning and execution to meet all necessary standards for a successful facility shutdown.

Closure with the Waste in Place

Closure with the Waste in Place, often referred to as “closure as a landfill,” is a method of facility closure that applies predominantly to locations like landfills and other Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs) or Hazardous Waste Management Units (HWMUs). This approach is utilized when the removal of waste is not feasible due to various constraints, such as the nature of the waste, the risk of disturbance, or the sheer volume of waste present.

Instead of removing the hazardous materials, this method involves sealing the waste within the facility itself, following strict regulatory procedures and guidelines. The process requires meticulous planning to ensure that the containment measures are robust and durable, effectively minimizing the risk of any future environmental contamination.

This type of closure is essential in situations where waste removal might pose greater risks to the environment and public health than containment and requires extensive oversight to ensure that the closed site remains secure over time.


The Facility Closure Process

Facility closure involves a comprehensive process that engages multiple professionals, including engineers and facility managers, at various stages throughout a facility’s life cycle. These experts collaborate closely to ensure that each phase of closure adheres to stringent environmental and safety standards. Below is an overview of the process involved during facility closure:

Step 1: Before the Operation of a Facility

Even before Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs) or Hazardous Waste Management Units (HWMUs) can commence operations, they are under a legal obligation to develop, produce, and submit a detailed written closure and contingency plan. This plan must outline comprehensive procedures for safely shutting down the facility, managing its waste, and addressing potential emergencies that could occur during its lifecycle.

Obtaining approval for this essential document is a prerequisite for the issuance of an operational permit. The closure plan forms an integral part of the facility’s permit to operate, ensuring that from its inception, the facility is designed with a clear and actionable strategy for its eventual decommissioning in compliance with environmental and safety standards.

Step 2: During Operation

During the operational phase of a facility, especially in the context of healthcare facilities and sites handling hazardous materials, it is crucial to maintain and regularly update secure records, including patients’ and emergency contact information. This ensures that, in the event of a facility closure, all relevant parties can be notified within the mandated timeline, adhering to regulatory requirements and maintaining communication transparency.

For facilities dealing with hazardous substances, it’s equally important to have robust incident response protocols in place. This includes the immediate mitigation of any spills or accidental releases, followed by a thorough investigation to identify the root cause and implement corrective actions.

Documenting these incidents and the measures taken to address them is vital, not only for compliance and safety but also for evaluating and improving operational practices. Facility managers play a crucial role in overseeing these processes, ensuring that their sites operate responsibly and are prepared for a structured closure when the time comes.

Step 3: After Closure

Following the closure of a facility, especially those opting for Closure with the Waste in Place, there is an imperative phase known as post-closure care that can extend up to 30 years. This phase is markedly different from the Clean Closure approach and is critical for ensuring that the containment measures for the hazardous materials are enduringly effective.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlines that the duration of post-closure care, though typically set to 30 years, can be adjusted—shortened or extended—based on the containment efficacy of the hazardous materials. Post-closure care tasks include a combination of maintenance inspections and testing to monitor for any signs of leachate or contamination in the groundwater and the surrounding area of the facility.

Risk management activities also play a crucial role during this period, assessing and deciding on the appropriate methods to permanently close or seal the unit or site. These measures are vital for safeguarding public health and the environment from potential contamination risks post-closure.


What is a Facility Closure Checklist?

A Facility Closure Checklist is a comprehensive tool that ensures all necessary procedures and regulations are followed meticulously during the closure of a facility. This checklist serves as a roadmap for facility managers, guiding them through the multifaceted steps of closure, from administrative tasks to environmental and health safety measures.

A Facility Closure Checklist helps in identifying and mitigating potential risks associated with facility shutdown, ensuring the protection of public health and the environment. By adhering to the checklist, facilities can achieve a closure that meets both legal standards and community expectations, effectively managing the legacy of the site’s operational impact.


What Items to Include in a Facility Closure Checklist?

Every successful facility closure begins with a detailed and comprehensive checklist that ensures all procedures and regulations are adhered to, preventing any overlooked aspects that could pose future risks. This checklist serves as an indispensable tool for facility managers to reference throughout the closure process. A comprehensive Facility Closure checklist should include the following items:

  1. Documentation Review and Update: Ensure that all facility documentation, including permits, operation manuals, and safety protocols, are current and complete. This documentation provides a roadmap for closure activities and proves compliance with regulatory requirements.
  2. Inventory of Hazardous Materials: Conduct a thorough inventory of all hazardous materials on site. Detail their quantities, storage conditions, and disposal plans, ensuring that hazardous waste is handled in compliance with local and federal regulations.
  3. Equipment Decommissioning Plan: Outline procedures for safely decommissioning and decontamination facility equipment. This plan should specify methods for equipment cleaning, dismantling, or recycling, reducing environmental impact.
  4. Site Decontamination Procedures: Define the steps for site cleanup and decontamination, including areas contaminated during normal operations or due to spills. Detailed procedures ensure a thorough cleanup and minimize health risks.
  5. Employee Transition Plan: Develop a plan for transitioning employees, including notifications, potential reassignment, or assistance with job searches. This supports staff through the closure process and complies with labor regulations.
  6. Notification to Regulatory Authorities: List the required notifications to local, state, and federal regulatory bodies, including timelines for each. Early and transparent communication ensures compliance and facilitates smoother closure proceedings.
  7. Community Engagement Plan: Create a strategy for engaging with the local community, including communication plans for closure activities and addressing community concerns. This fosters goodwill and minimizes opposition.
  8. Emergency Response Plan Update: Update the facility’s emergency response plan to reflect changes during the closure process, ensuring that any incidents can be effectively managed without delay.
  9. Financial Assurance for Closure and Post-Closure: Confirm that financial assurances meet regulatory requirements to cover the costs of closure activities and any necessary post-closure care. This protects against insufficient funds for completing these critical steps.
  10. Post-Closure Care Plan: Develop a detailed post-closure care plan, including monitoring wells, maintenance schedules, and contingency plans for leak detection. This ensures the long-term safety and security of the closed facility site.
  11. Recordkeeping for Closed Facilities: Establish guidelines for the retention and storage of facility records, including closure documents and monitoring data, in accordance with regulatory requirements for easy access in future assessments.


By incorporating these essential items, a Facility Closure Checklist can guide managers through the complex process of shutting down operations safely and responsibly, ensuring that every critical aspect of closure and post-closure care is methodically addressed.


How to Use a Facility Closure Checklist?

A Facility Closure Checklist is a critical tool designed to guide managers through the intricate process of shutting down operations, ensuring regulatory compliance, and safeguarding public health and the environment. It acts as a comprehensive roadmap, detailing every essential step in the closure process, from initial documentation to post-closure care. Utilizing this checklist effectively can mitigate risks and facilitate a smooth transition during the facility closure phase.

Review Legal and Regulatory Requirements

Before proceeding with any closure activities, thoroughly review all relevant local, state, and federal regulations that pertain to facility closure. This ensures that the facility’s closure plan is in full compliance with legal requirements, avoiding potential fines or legal complications. Familiarizing yourself with these regulations forms the foundation upon which the entire closure process is built, ensuring that every step taken is within legal boundaries.

Conduct a Comprehensive Site Assessment

Perform a detailed assessment of the entire facility to identify any areas of contamination, structural issues, or hazardous materials that require special attention. This assessment should cover both the physical structures and the surrounding environment, ensuring a thorough understanding of the site’s condition. Information gathered during this phase will dictate the specific actions needed in the subsequent steps of the checklist, tailoring the closure plan to the facility’s unique challenges and needs.

Plan for Hazardous Materials and Waste

Develop a detailed plan for the safe handling, removal, and disposal of any hazardous materials or waste identified during the site assessment. This includes detailing the methods of decontamination, the entities responsible for disposal, and compliance with all hazardous waste regulations. Ensuring the safe and compliant disposal of hazardous materials is critical to minimizing environmental impact and protecting public health.

Decommission Equipment and Infrastructure

Outline the procedures for decommissioning and, if necessary, dismantling facility equipment and infrastructure. Specify methods for safely deactivating machinery, decontaminating equipment, and recycling or disposing of materials. Properly planning for the decommissioning phase reduces the risk of accidents and environmental contamination, and may provide opportunities for recovering value from facility assets.

Implement Site Decontamination

Based on the comprehensive site assessment, execute the necessary decontamination procedures to remediate any contaminated areas. These procedures should be tailored to address specific contaminants and comply with environmental standards, ensuring that the site poses no residual health risks. Effective site decontamination is essential for meeting regulatory approval and preparing the site for any future development or use.

Engage with Employees and the Community

Develop and implement plans for communicating with employees about the closure, including potential job reassignments, layoffs, or assistance with job searches. Additionally, create a community engagement plan to inform and involve the local community in the closure process. Transparent communication helps manage expectations, reduces uncertainty, and maintains positive relationships with both employees and the community.

Finalize Documentation and Reporting

Ensure that all documentation related to the closure process, including permits, decontamination records, and waste disposal certificates, is comprehensive, up-to-date, and properly filed. Submit required closure reports to the relevant regulatory authorities, confirming that the facility has met all requirements for a safe and compliant closure. Proper documentation and reporting serve as the final step in fulfilling regulatory obligations and formally concluding the facility closure process.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What’s the importance of a Post-Closure Care Plan?

The Post-Closure Care Plan ensures that after the facility has been closed, the site remains safe and secure for the long term. It includes monitoring the site for potential environmental impacts, maintaining any necessary security measures, and outlining actions for detected issues. This plan is crucial for protecting public health and the environment from possible contamination or hazards arising post-closure.

Q2: How long should records of closed facilities be kept?

The duration for retaining records of closed facilities varies depending on local, state, and federal regulations. Typically, it’s recommended to keep these records for at least several years post-closure. However, it’s best to consult with regulatory authorities for specific requirements, as some documents may need to be retained indefinitely.

Q3: Can the site of a closed facility be repurposed or redeveloped?

Yes, the site of a closed facility can often be repurposed or redeveloped, but this depends on the successful decontamination and compliance with any environmental regulations applicable to the new use. Prior to repurposing, a comprehensive assessment and any necessary cleanup must occur to ensure the site is safe for new development activities.

Q4: Who is responsible for a facility’s closure and post-closure care?

The responsibility typically falls on the facility owner or operator. They must ensure that the closure and post-closure care comply with all regulatory requirements, safeguarding public health and the environment. In some cases, responsibilities may also extend to future owners of the site.

Q5: What criteria determine the extent of decontamination needed for facility closure?

The extent of decontamination required is determined by several factors, including the nature and degree of contamination, the future use of the site, local environmental regulations, and standards for public health protection. A comprehensive site assessment will help define the specific decontamination processes needed to close the facility safely.

Q6: How are employees and the local community typically involved in the closure process?

Engaging with employees involves clear communication about their future, including details on layoffs, reassignment, or assistance with job searches. For the local community, the process may involve public meetings, regular updates on the closure process, and consultations on the site’s future use. Involving both groups is crucial for managing expectations and maintaining trust throughout the closure process.


Streamline the Facility Closure Process with DATAMYTE

DATAMYTE is a quality management platform with low-code capabilities. Our Digital Clipboard, in particular, is a low-code workflow automation software that features a workflow, checklist, and smart form builder. This tool lets you automate your facility closure process by creating comprehensive checklists, workflows, and forms that guide your team through each step of the closure process.

DATAMYTE also lets you conduct layered process audits, a high-frequency evaluation of critical process steps, focusing on areas with the highest failure risk or non-compliance. Conducting LPA with DATAMYTE lets you effectively identify and correct potential defects before they become major quality issues.

With DATAMYTE, you have an all-in-one solution for streamlining your facility closure process, ensuring regulatory compliance, and maintaining transparency with employees and the community. Book a demo now to learn more.



Successfully closing a facility is a multifaceted process that requires meticulous planning, execution, and communication. By adhering to regulatory standards, engaging with stakeholders, and ensuring the site’s safe and compliant restitution, organizations can mitigate the environmental and social impacts of closure.

The importance of a thorough Post-Closure Care Plan cannot be overstated, as it ensures the ongoing safeguarding of public health and the environment. In essence, a well-managed facility closure not only meets legal obligations but also demonstrates corporate responsibility and commitment to sustainable practices.



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