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New Collaboration Will Help Communities Return Superfund Sites to Productive Use

Release Date: 11/12/2004
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan 202-564-7839 /

(11/12/2004) Underscoring EPA’s commitment to returning cleaned up properties to productive uses, a new initiative is being launched today that will support community efforts to reuse formerly contaminated Superfund sites. The national initiative, called “Return to Use,” is EPA’s latest effort to assist community programs working to reuse cleaned up Superfund sites while ensuring that human health and the environment are fully protected. EPA will be partnering with 11 communities throughout the United States to commence this new initiative. Projects are located in California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee and Utah. EPA believes there could be several hundred sites around the country where the Return to Use initiative can help return former Superfund sites to productive use by helping to remove physical or institutional barriers to community use, such as fences at a site or legal deed limitations restricting access. These barriers to reuse will only be removed if it is clear that they are not needed to protect human health, the environment or the remedy in place at the site. The Return to Use initiative focuses on sites that were cleaned up early in the life of the Superfund program, before EPA’s current emphasis on considering the anticipated future use of the land while cleanups are in progress. At many of these sites, the remedy construction is complete and the property is considered ready for reuse, yet remains vacant. At some of these vacant sites, removing or modifying unnecessary barriers with the cooperation of property owners and federal, state and local partners can lead to the site’s reuse as green space, recreational or commercial facilities, all without posing any increased risk to human health or the environment. Returning cleaned Superfund sites to beneficial use not only allows local communities to reclaim lost landscapes, it also removes the stigma sometimes associated with fenced and vacant Superfund sites. Newly productive property can lead to increased property values and a higher tax base. People who are responsibly reusing sites have a stake in protecting the site against destructive activities such as vandalism, trespassing or off-road vehicle racing, that can damage the remedy, and against midnight dumping which can result in recontamination. More information on the Return to Use initiative is available at: .