News Releases from Region 02
Progress being made in advancing Superfund cleanups in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Superfund Task Force Announces One-Year Anniversary Accomplishments and Plan for Year Two
(New York, N.Y) On the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund Task Force Report, EPA is announcing significant progress in carrying out the report’s recommendations. The Agency also finalized its plans for completing all 42 recommendations by the end of 2019, which are outlined in a new “2018 Update” to the Superfund Task Force recommendations.
“EPA has improved the health, living conditions, and economic opportunity of thousands of people living near Superfund sites over the past year as the Agency worked to implement the Task Force recommendations,” said Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “I am proud of the accomplishments achieved by EPA’s hardworking staff, and we will continue to engage directly with stakeholders and communities near Superfund sites to accelerate cleanup and promote economic revitalization. Our plan to complete Task Force recommendations by the end of 2019 will ensure this work continues as one of EPA’s highest priorities.”
“Since the Superfund Task Force released its recommendations a year ago, we have made real progress in advancing cleanups in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Pete Lopez, EPA Regional Administrator. “By actively engaging our partners and stakeholders, we have reinforced our mission of protecting public health and the environment. In the months and years ahead, we will continue to reach major remediation milestones for these sites, enabling EPA to return them to our communities for productive use.”
The Superfund Task Force was commissioned on May 22, 2017 to provide recommendations on how EPA could streamline and improve the Superfund program. One year ago, on July 25, 2017, EPA issued the Superfund Task Force Report, which included 42 recommendations in five goal areas:
- Expediting Cleanup and Remediation;
- Re-Invigorating Responsible Party Cleanup and Reuse;
- Encouraging Private Investment;
- Promoting Redevelopment and Community Revitalization; and
- Engaging Partners and Stakeholders.
Highlights of EPA’s progress in carrying out the Task Force recommendations at the one-year anniversary include:
- Achieving Key Milestones at Sites on the Administrator’s Emphasis List. EPA released the initial Administrator’s Emphasis List (AEL) on December 8, 2017, which included 21 National Priorities List (NPL) Superfund sites across the United States targeted for immediate and intense attention. Substantial progress has been made at AEL sites, and EPA will publish the list’s next update at the end of July 2018. Learn more.
- Moving More Sites Towards Deletion/Partial Deletion. Due to more direct attention to the sites potentially eligible for partial or full deletion from the NPL, the program achieved 7 full site deletions and 2 partial deletions since EPA released the Task Force report. An additional 10 sites are proposed for partial or full deletion following public comment. Learn more.
- Improving Information on Human Exposure Status. EPA launched a Human Exposure Dashboard providing real-time human exposure status for all NPL sites in an easily accessible webpage. In FY2017, the Agency designated an additional 24 sites as having human exposure to contamination under control for a total of 1,493 sites under control. Learn more.
- Promoting Redevelopment and Community Revitalization at Targeted Sites. After releasing a Redevelopment Focus List of 31 NPL sites with the greatest reuse potential, EPA has responded to over 120 redevelopment-related prospective purchaser inquiries and created a new informational mapping tool that provides site-specific details on each of the 31 sites. Two noteworthy examples of EPA’s redevelopment efforts are the Libby Asbestos site in Libby, Montana; and the Peoples National Gas site in Dubuque, Iowa. Learn more.
- Developing Tools and a Process to Encourage Third-Party Investment. EPA created a national team of redevelopment experts led by EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to help address liability concerns of third-party entities and developers. EPA and DOJ issued a new policy that encourages more frequent consideration of Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser Agreements and Prospective Purchaser Agreements, when appropriate, to foster cleanup and reuse of NPL sites.
- Engaging with Partners and Stakeholders. EPA held or participated in more than 1,370 public meetings and 3,190 in-person meetings or interviews with community members living near Superfund sites. Senior EPA leaders also met on a regular basis with environmental justice groups as well as other Federal agencies and a variety of state and tribal organizations to obtain their ongoing input on Task Force work. The Agency also conducted online “listening sessions” open to the public to obtain feedback on implementing many of the enforcement-related recommendations.
As outlined in the “2018 Update,” the Agency plans to complete implementation of the Superfund Task Force recommendations by September 2019 and will have fully integrated that work into EPA’s Superfund program. These achievements will provide certainty to communities, state partners, and developers that the nation’s most hazardous sites will be cleaned up as quickly and safely as possible.
Over the next year, EPA will:
- Continue to expedite cleanups and move sites towards deletion. These efforts will place a greater emphasis on the internal tracking of site progress using visual management tools to evaluate where each site is in the Superfund process, how long it has been there, and the reasons for any delays.
- Use adaptive management on a more structured and broader scale and formally implement adaptive management principles at select pilot sites by the end of calendar year 2018.
- Collaborate with our state and tribal partners through the Environmental Council of States, Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials, and Tribal Waste and Response Steering Committee to complete a thorough evaluation of groundwater beneficial use policies with a focus on beneficial use determinations.
- Continue to re-invigorate responsible party cleanup and reuse by using best practices and modifying model enforcement language to reduce responsible party cleanup negotiation timeframes and shorten PRP lead cleanups.
- Encourage private investment in the cleanup and reuse of contaminated sites by finalizing guidance and developing new model work agreements and comfort letters to create certainty and assist third parties in identifying investment opportunities at Superfund sites.
- Implement the Superfund Remedial Acquisition Framework to reduce cleanup costs, foster innovation, and increase efficiency.
- Continue to focus on stakeholder and partner engagement during all Superfund cleanup process phases, including improving risk communication at Superfund sites with long-term stewardship requirements.
EPA’s new “Superfund Task Force Recommendations 2018 Update” is available at: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-recommendations-2018-update
A video highlighting Superfund success stories from across the country can be found here: https://youtu.be/btUramqS7G4
The Agency’s new informational mapping tool on the Redevelopment Focus List is available at: https://arcg.is/vn8H5.
EPA will continue will continue to post opportunities for external stakeholders to participate in the Task Force work on the Superfund Task Force web page at: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-public-participation-opportunities.