Special EPA Report Reflects on Successes of the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative After 20 Years
EPA is highlighting the success of its Superfund Redevelopment Initiative in a special edition 20th anniversary report.
This summer the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative (SRI) by releasing a summary report. The report highlights the stories of many successful Superfund site transformations, tallies the nation-wide accomplishments from the redevelopment of Superfund sites, and discusses how Superfund redevelopment helps communities utilize contaminated real estate as the rare and valuable land resources they are.
The SRI was launched in 1999 with the primary goal of returning formerly contaminated lands to long-term sustainable and productive reuse. Since then, a generation of successful projects have put Superfund sites back into productive use in communities across the country. These redevelopment projects have resulted in dramatic changes in communities by improving the quality of life, raising property values, and providing needed services to communities.
Prior to the SRI, Superfund sites were cleaned up but not necessarily put back into productive use. So, by considering reuse early in the site cleanup process, the SRI helps ensure that desired future uses are compatible with site cleanup remedies and removes barriers that could keep areas vacant or underused.
Depending on site conditions and community preferences, sites can be reused for a multitude of purposes, including commercial, recreational, ecological and residential uses. The SRI has helped communities turn former lumber yards into parks, landfills into solar farms, former smelters into health clinics and gravel pits into baseball fields.
Overall, approximately 1,000 Superfund sites are in reuse today--more than half the number of sites on Superfund’s National Priorities List. EPA has data on over 8,600 businesses at 529 of these sites. In fiscal year 2018 alone, these businesses generated $52.4 billion in sales, which is more than four times the amount EPA has spent at these sites. These businesses employed more than 195,000 people who earned a combined income of $13 billion. Over the last 7 years, these businesses generated at least $263 billion in sales.
EPA provides communities with points of contact, as well as case studies and best practices to help bring these projects to fruition. Examples of how Superfund redevelopment has transformed communities include:
Smelterville, Idaho: The Bunker Hill Mining & Metallurgical Complex in Smelterville, Idaho, is in one of the world’s largest historical mining districts. When the Bunker Hill lead smelter and several associated mines closed in the 1980s, the local economy nearly collapsed. EPA’s cleanup work has included removal of lead-contaminated soil and containment of mine tailings. This work paved the way for extensive reuse that includes a resort, residential and commercial development, a golf course, a ski area, and trails.
Collinsville, Oklahoma: Following cleanup of the Tulsa Fuel and Manufacturing site, a former zinc smelter in Collinsville, Oklahoma, a honey production company has expanded its operations onto part of the site. The area is now home to six honeybee hives, with 16 hives planned for the near future. Clover planted during site restoration makes an ideal habitat for bees. Cleanup resulted in the transformation of this once-contaminated smelter property into restored ecological habitat, one well-suited to supporting the protection of bees and production of high-quality honey.
Midvale City, Utah: In Midvale City, Utah, lead and copper smelters contaminated soil and groundwater with heavy metals. EPA worked with stakeholders to link the Midvale Slag site’s cleanup with redevelopment goals. Cleanup is now complete, and the site is home to a thriving mixed-use development that supports thousands of jobs. Businesses on site include an international engineering company, a healthcare services company, an e-commerce company and many retail businesses. The site is also home to more than 1,000 residences, a light rail station, a river walk and a park.
Woburn, Massachusetts: Poor industrial practices led to the contamination of soil and groundwater at the Wells G&H site in Woburn, Massachusetts. Cleanup included removing and treating contaminated debris, soil and groundwater. Through a planning process funded through the Superfund program, the community worked with EPA to explore options for the site and develop a comprehensive reuse plan. Today, the site hosts an ice-skating rink, retail businesses, restaurants, hotels, and a natural area with hiking trails and recreation amenities.
“Over the past 20 years, the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative has proven that incorporating reuse early in the process removes barriers to redevelopment and ensures that cleanup plans promote future economic and recreational opportunities,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Thanks to SRI, hundreds of formerly contaminated sites have been transformed into hubs of economic, recreational, or residential activity. Promoting redevelopment and community revitalization is a top priority of this Administration and one of the key goals of the Agency’s Superfund Task Force.”
Read and download EPA’s SRI 20th Anniversary Report https://www.epa.gov/superfund-redevelopment-initiative/epa-celebrates-20-years-superfund-redevelopment.
For more information about Superfund redevelopment, please visit the https://www.epa.gov/superfund-redevelopment-initiative.
For more information about EPA’s Superfund Task Force, please visit https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force.
Read more in-depth case studies of successful Superfund site reuse: https://www.epa.gov/superfund-redevelopment-initiative/depth-case-studies-superfund-reuse
For more information on regional redevelopment benefits, see the 2018 Redevelopment Beneficial Effects reports for each of EPA's 10 regional offices at https://www.epa.gov/superfund-redevelopment-initiative/redevelopment-economics-superfund-sites#regional.
Source: U.S. EPA
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