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EPA adds five, proposes three more for Superfund

News | September 19, 2014 | By:

Hazardous waste sites now on National Priorities List

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a press release this week that it has added five hazardous waste sites that pose risks to human health and the environment to its National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites.

In addition, the agency said it is proposing to add three additional sites to the list. The Superfund program, a federal program established by Congress in 1980, “ … investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled, or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country and converts them into productive local resources by eliminating or reducing health risks and environmental contamination associated with hazardous waste sites,” according to the release.

The following five sites have been added to the NPL:

  • Indiana-North Shore Drive (groundwater plume) in Elkhart, Ind.
  • Louisiana-Delta Shipyard (former boat cleaning and repair) in Houma, La.
  • New Jersey-Pierson’s Creek (chemical manufacturer) in Newark, N.J.
  • Pennsylvania-Baghurst Drive (groundwater plume) in Harleysville, Pa.
  • Vermont-Jard Co. Inc. (former capacitor manufacturer) in Bennington, Vt.

The following three sites have been proposed for addition to the NPL:

  • Alabama-35th Avenue (residential soil contamination) in Birmingham, Ala.
  • Indiana-Kokomo Contaminated Groundwater Plume (groundwater plume) in Kokomo, Ind.
  • Michigan-DSC McLouth Steel Gibraltar Plant (steel finishing operation) in Gibraltar, Mich.

The press release noted that these sites have characteristics and conditions that vary in terms of size, complexity, and when the contamination occurred, with some sites involving recent contamination, among other factors. But with all NPL sites, the EPA first works to identify companies or people responsible for the contamination at a site, and requires them to conduct or pay for the cleanup. For the newly listed sites without viable potentially responsible parties, the EPA will investigate the full extent of the contamination before starting substantial cleanup at the site.

Past and current site uses include lead smelting, solvent handling, small capacitor and motor manufacturing, and maritime-related activities. Site contaminants are numerous with lead, arsenic and other metals; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and volatile organic compounds such as trichloroethylene (TCE), as well as others. Contamination affects residential yards, wetlands, surface water and groundwater, and soil.

For example, the EPA added Jard Co. to the NPL because polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), used in the manufacturing process, were released into the former building structure and soils on the property, which contaminated area groundwater. At the Delta Shipyard site, heavy metals and other hazardous wastes were released from disposal ponds, which contaminated area soils, groundwater, and surface waters.

“Cleaning up hazardous waste sites protects our country’s most vulnerable populations, prevents diseases, increases local property values and facilitates economic restoration of communities across America,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “By listing a site on the Superfund National Priorities List, we’re taking an important action to protect human health and encourage economic restoration of communities.”

The EPA said that there are currently more than 800 Superfund sites across the nation in some type of continued use, active reuse, or planned reuse activities.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the law establishing the Superfund program, gives EPA the authority to clean up releases of hazardous substances and directs EPA to update the NPL at least annually to protect human health and the environment with the goal of returning these sites to communities for productive use.

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