WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added five hazardous waste sites that pose risks to human health and the environment to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). A separate action includes a proposal to add seven sites to the list.
“Since the creation of the Superfund program 35 years ago, EPA has been addressing the risk to human health and the environment as well as blight to the economy due to contamination left behind by owners and operators,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “Superfund cleanups protect communities’ health, their environments and their economic well-being, including some of the country’s most vulnerable populations.”
Sites EPA adds to the NPL represent the nation’s most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites. Only sites added to the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term permanent cleanup. Cleanups reduce adverse human health impacts, including those affecting infants, and also help facilitate the economic revitalization of formerly toxic sites. The list serves as the basis for prioritizing both enforcement actions against polluters, and long-term EPA Superfund cleanup funding. The time it takes to prepare to propose a site to the NPL varies depending on many factors, for example, the site complexity, the extent of stakeholder interest, state and tribal support, and the availability of other cleanup options.
State partnership is critical to the cleanup of Superfund sites. EPA responds to requests from states/tribes and communities to propose a site to the NPL when non-NPL response options have not proved viable. EPA requests state support to list sites on the NPL and coordinates with them to conduct early site assessments. In some cases, states may lead the remedial action work with EPA oversight.
The National Bureau of Economic Research study, Superfund Cleanups and Infant Health, shows that investment in Superfund cleanups reduces the incidence of congenital abnormalities in infants by as much as 25 percent for those living within approximately 2100 yards of a site. Cleanups involving lead-contaminated soil have contributed to documented reduced blood-lead levels in children.
If left unaddressed, elevated blood-lead levels may result in irreversible neurological deficits, such as lowered intelligence and attention-related behavioral problems.
The following five sites have been added to the NPL:
• Illinois – Estech General Chemical Company (pesticide manufacturer) in Calumet City, Ill.;
• Louisiana – Colonial Creosote (wood treatment plant) in Bogalusa, La.;
• Massachusetts – BJAT LLC (various industrial operations) in Franklin, Mass.;
• Texas – Main Street Ground Water Plume (ground water plume) in Burnet, Texas.; and
• Washington – Grain Handling Facility at Freeman (grain handling facility) in Freeman, Wash.