U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research


EPA/DOE/NSF/ONR - Joint Program On Bioremediation

Closing Date: February 28, 1997


In the past the goal for cleanup of toxic and hazardous waste sites has been the nearly complete removal of the hazardous chemicals, and regulation has been based on applicable standards, such as the MCL (maximum contaminant level) for drinking water, some of which can be at the part per billion level. For bioremediation this generally meant the need for degradation of wastes to carbon dioxide, water, and inorganic materials. It has become clear, however, that this goal may be unrealistic and unnecessary in some situations. There are alternative endpoints, which eliminate the exposure question, which have the potential to be used for regulation to protect ecosystems and human health.


One of the principal factors controlling bioremediation processes is bioavailability, which we define as the availability of contaminants to the organism (including microbes, plants, and animals) that might degrade or otherwise transform it. Research is urgently needed which examines:

  • the chemical, physical, and biological processes (including weathering and aging) that determine bioavailability of contaminants in waste matrices, particularly high molecular weight compounds,
  • the potential for toxic effects of various intermediate metabolites that might be released during biodegradation of wastes, and
  • interactions between waste chemicals, organisms, and the environment to identify fundamental mechanisms controlling sorption and sequestration.

The overall goal of such research should be to better understand the various factors that will impact the risk to ecosystem and human health of waste chemicals and their degradation products during the process of bioremediation, including phytoremediation and natural attenuation. The results of this research can then be considered in the regulatory framework to develop environmentally acceptable alternative endpoints for site remediation.

Research proposals are solicited that aim to further our fundamental understanding of the chemical, physical, and biological processes influencing the bioavailability, as defined above, and release of chemicals in soil and sediments under natural conditions, as well as the role of a chemical which, when released from the soil or sediment and assimilated by a living organism, results in an adverse effect. The objective of the research should be to understand the commonality of processes and/or environmental effects involved in contaminant release, movement, and assimilation in order to determine broadly applicable techniques for measuring the potential impacts of contaminants in complex matrices. Mechanistic and kinetic studies are encouraged, particularly when they lead to the construction of models that increase our understanding of bioavailability.

The emphasis in proposed research projects should be on the behavior of mixtures of chemicals in field situations, for example, chemicals of disparate types found together in hazardous waste situations, like chlorinated solvents, PAHs, and metals. Interdisciplinary research is particularly encouraged. While studies on chemicals that impact ecosystem and human health are desired, studies which deal simply with the toxicity of chemicals and their degradation products are not eligible. Similarly, studies focusing on pure cultures in the laboratory or bioreactors will not be reviewed.

Laboratory studies are permitted but must lead or be applicable to field studies. Field studies should use well-instrumented, characterized, and documented sites. Examples of such sites which are available for field research, and contact individuals, are

    Various U.S. EPA sites
    Contact: Fran Kremer, 513-569-7346

    Various Department of Energy sites
    Contact: Paul Bayer, 301-903-5324

    The U.S. Navy's Port Hueneme, CA, site
    Contact: Ernest Lory, 805-982-1299

    McClelland Air Force Base, California
    Contact: Phil Mook, 916-643-5443

    Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan
    Contact: Michael Barcelona, 313-763-9666

    Dover Air Force Base, Delaware
    Contact: Charles Mikula, 302-677-6845
    FAX: 302-677-6837

A more detailed statement of interagency interests and priorities in bioremediation research can be found in the Environmental Biotechnology chapter of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) report, Biotechnology for the 21st Century: New Horizons [http://www.nalusda.gov/bic/bio21]. Applicants specifically interested in research at Department of Energy sites should peruse the Natural and Accelerated Bioremediation Research (NABIR) Program Plan (DOE/ER-0659T, access NABIR through http://www.er.doe.gov/production/oher/NABIR/cover.html). The program elements, Biogeochemical Dynamics and Community Dynamics and Microbial Ecology are those most closely aligned with this EPA/NSF/DOE/ONR Joint Program on Bioremediation.

Who May Submit

Academic and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and state or local governments are eligible to apply. Profit-making firms are eligible only under certain laws, and then under restrictive conditions, including the absence of any profit from the project. Federal agencies and federal employees are not eligible to submit applications in this program. DOE National Laboratories may submit applications, which will be considered for funding by DOE in this competition. All potential applicants are encouraged to contact one of the agency representatives, identified below, before submitting a formal proposal.


Proposals may request funding for projects with a duration not to exceed three years and a total budget not to exceed $500,000. The EPA is the lead agency in this effort; although proposals submitted in response to this Interagency Announcement will be sent to EPA, the participating agencies will jointly manage the review and administration of the program. Final selection of awardees by the agencies will be determined by the review panel's recommendations and programmatic considerations. Each award will be supported by a single agency. Overall estimated amount of funding is $5.5 M, depending on the availability of funds and the programmatic relevancy of recommended projects to the participating agencies. Each agency supporting an award will act as the sole administrative unit for that award. Principal Investigators may be requested to modify their budgets and work plans to comply with special requirements of the particular agency supporting their award.

The Application

The initial application is made through the submission of the materials described below. It is essential that the application contain all the information requested and be submitted in the formats described. If it is not, the application may be rejected on administrative grounds. If an application is considered for award (i.e., after external peer review and internal review), additional forms and other information will be requested by the Project Officer in the funding agency. The application should not be bound or stapled in any way. The Application contains the following:

A. Standard Form 424: The applicant must complete Standard Form 424 (see attached form and instructions). This form will act as a cover sheet for the application and should be its first page. Instructions for completion of the SF424 are included with the form. The form must contain the original signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution. Please note that both the Principal Investigator and an administrative contact should be identified in Section 5 of the SF424. Sorting Code 96-NCER-10 must be entered in block 10 of the SF-424.

B. Key Contacts: The applicant must complete the Key Contacts Form (attached) as the second page of the submitted application.

C. Abstract: The abstract is a very important document. Prior to attending the peer review panel meetings, some of the panelists may read only the abstract. Therefore, it is critical that the abstract accurately describe the research being proposed and convey all the essential elements of the research. Also, in the event of an award, the abstracts will form the basis for an Annual Report of awards made under this program. The abstract should include the following information:

1.Sorting Code: Use the code that corresponds to this topic: 97-NCER-10.
2.Title: Use the exact title as it appears in the rest of the application.
3.Investigators: List the names and affiliations of each investigator who will significantly contribute to the project. Start with the Principal Investigator.
4.Project Summary: This should summarize: (a) the objectives of the study (including any hypotheses that will be tested), (b) the experimental approach to be used (which should give an accurate description of the project as described in the proposal), (c) the expected results of the project and how it addresses the research needs identified in the solicitation, and (d) the estimated improvement in risk assessment or risk management that will result from successful completion of the work proposed.

D. Project Description: This description must not exceed fifteen (15) consecutively numbered (center bottom), 8.5x11 inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1 inch margins. The description must provide the following information:

1. Objectives: List the objectives of the proposed research and the hypotheses being tested during the project and briefly state why the intended research is important. This section can also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the objectives of the study (one to two pages recommended).
2. Approach: Outline the methods, approaches, and techniques that you intend to employ in meeting the objective stated above (five to 10 pages recommended).
3. Expected Results or Benefits: Describe the results you expect to achieve during the project and the benefits of success as they relate to the topic under which the proposal was submitted. This section should also discuss the utility of the research project proposed for addressing the environmental problems described in the solicitation (one to two pages recommended).
4. General Project Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the project. This should include facilities, personnel, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc. (one to two pages recommended).
5. Important Attachments: Appendices and/or other information may be included but must remain within the 15-page limit. References are in addition to the 15 pages.

E. Resumes: The resumes of all principal investigators and important co-workers should be presented. Resumes must not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x 11 inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1 inch margins for each individual.

F. Current and Pending Support: The applicant must identify any current and pending financial resources that are intended to support research related to that included in the proposal or which would consume the time of principal investigators. This should be done by completing the appropriate form (see attachment) for each investigator and other senior personnel involved in the proposal. Failure to provide this information may delay consideration of your proposal.

G. Budget: The applicant must present a detailed, itemized budget for the entire project. This budget must be in the format provided (see attachment) and not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11 inch pages with 1 inch margins. If desired, a brief statement concerning cost sharing can be added to the budget justification.

H. Budget Justification: This section should describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other costs identified in the itemized budget and explain the basis for their calculation (special attention should be given to explaining the travel, equipment, and other categories). This should also include an explanation of how the indirect costs were calculated. This justification should not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11 inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1 inch margins.

I. Quality Assurance Narrative Statement: For awards that involve environmentally related measurements or data generation, a quality system that complies with the requirements of ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs," must be in place. This statement should not exceed two consecutively numbered, 8.5x11 inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1 inch margins. This is in addition to the 15 pages permitted for the Project Description. The Quality Assurance Narrative Statement should, for each item listed below, either present the required information or provide a justification as to why the item does not apply to the proposed research.

    1. The data collection activities to be performed or hypothesis to be tested (reference may be made to the specific page and paragraph number in the application where this information may be found); acceptance criteria for data quality (precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, comparability).

    2. The study design including sample type and location requirements and any statistical analyses that were used to estimate the types and numbers of samples required.

    3. The procedures for the handling and custody of samples, including sample identification, preservation, transportation, and storage.

    4. The methods that will be used to analyze samples collected, including a description of the sampling and/or analytical instruments required.

    5. The procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the sampling and analytical methods used during the project.

    6. The procedures for data reduction and reporting, including description of statistical analyses to be used.

    7. The intended use of the data as they relate to the study objectives or hypotheses.

    8. The quantitative and or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project.

    9. Any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods prior to data collection.

ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs" is available for purchase from the American Society for Quality Control, phone 1-800-248-1946, item T55. Only in exceptional circumstances should it be necessary to consult this document.

J. Postcard: The Applicant must include with the application a self-addressed, stamped 3x5 inch post card. This will be used to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information to the applicant.

Proprietary Information

By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants permission to share the application with technical reviewers both within and outside of the Agencies. Applications containing proprietary or other types of confidential information will be immediately returned to the applicant without review.

Review and Selection

All grant applications are initially reviewed by the participating agencies to determine their legal and administrative acceptability. Acceptable applications are then reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review group. This review is designed to evaluate each proposal according to its scientific merit. In general, each review group is composed of scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are experts in their respective disciplines and are proficient in the technical areas they are reviewing. The reviewers use the following criteria to help them in their reviews:

1.The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the potential contribution the proposed research could make to advance scientific knowledge in the environmental area, the appropriateness and adequacy of the research methods proposed, and the appropriateness and adequacy of the Quality Assurance Narrative Statement

2.The qualifications of the principal investigator(s) and other staff, including knowledge of pertinent literature, experience, and publication records as well as the probability that the proposed research will be successfully completed

3.The availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment proposed for the project

4.The responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs set forth in the solicitation

5.Although budget information is not used by the reviewers as the basis for their evaluation of scientific merit, the reviewers are asked to provide their view on the appropriateness and/or adequacy of the proposed budget and its implications for the potential success of the proposed research. Input on requested equipment is of particular interest.

Applications that receive scores of excellent and very good from the peer reviewers are subjected to programmatic review within the participating agencies, the object being to assure a balanced research portfolio. Scientists from the agencies review these applications in relation to program priorities and recommend selections for award.

Copies of comments from the scientific review of the panel will be provided to each applicant. Funding decisions are the sole responsibility of the funding agency. Grants are selected on the basis of technical merit, relevancy to the research priorities outlined, program balance, and budget.

How to Apply

The original and ten (10) copies of the fully developed research grant application and five (5) additional copies of the abstract (15 in all), must be received (post-marked if sent by U.S. Mail) by the National Center for Environmental Research and Quality Assurance no later than 4:00 P.M. EST on the closing date: February 28, 1997.

The application and abstracts must be prepared in accordance with these instructions. Informal, incomplete, or unsigned proposals will not be considered. Completed applications should be sent via regular or express mail to:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research and Quality Assurance (8703)
Sorting Code: 96-NCER-10
Room M2411
401 M Street SW
Washington DC 20460

Applications sent via express mail should have the following telephone number listed on the express mail label: (202) 260-0563


Additional general information may be obtained by contacting:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
National Center for Environmental Research and Quality Assurance (8703)
401 M Street SW
Washington DC 20460
Phone: 1-800-490-9194

Applicants with technical questions may contact the appropriate individual identified below.

    EPA: Dr. Robert E. Menzer
    fax (202) 260-0929, voice (202) 260-5779

    DOE: Dr. Paul Bayer
    fax (301) 903-8519, voice (301) 903-8288

    NSF: Dr. Joann Roskoski
    fax (703) 306-0367, voice (703) 306-1480 Ext. 6421

    ONR: Dr. Anna Palmisano
    fax (703) 696-1212 , voice (703) 696-4760

Please use the forms kit to complete this application.