Superfund Task Force Issues Final Report & Plans for Ongoing Implementation
U.S. EPA has released a report summarizing the robust work of the Superfund Task Force and outlining ongoing implementation efforts.
America's Superfund Program makes meaningful and impactful differences in communities with sites on the National Priorities List (NPL). The Superfund Program anwers the call to clean up the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites, thereby eliminating threats to public health and damage to the natural environment we all share. While elimanting such negatives, the Superfund Program also generates many positives by creating jobs, recycling land and making space for businesses to grow. And by enhancing quality of place in our communities, the Superfund Program improves the quality of life for every American.
The Superfund Program's numerous successes over its nearly 40-year existence have made significant contributions towards fulfilling U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) core mission. Yet, while many sites have been remediated and removed from the NPL, many Superfund sites remain. And additional sites are added each year. Thus, EPA continues seek ways to more efficiently and effectively remediate Superfund sites and protect human health and the environment.
The effort behind this core EPA mission was redoubled when the Superfund Task Force was commissioned on May 22, 2017 and charged with providing recommendations on how EPA can restructure the cleanup process, realign incentives of all involved parties to promote expeditious remediation, reduce the burden on cooperating parties, incentivize parties to remediate sites, encourage private investment in cleanups of sites, and promote the revitalization of properties across the country.
It was a substantial mobilization not seen in some time, tasked with 100+ career EPA employee. On July 25, 2017, the EPA Superfund Task Force Report identified multiple opportunities to accelerate cleanup and reuse of Superfund sites. Specifically, the Task Force identified 42 recommendations under five overarching goals. Subsequently, EPA convened workgroups and developed implementing tasks for each of the recommendations.
As such, EPA is already working on the next challenge: to oversee the constructive implementation of the recommendations into the Superfund Program. The Task Force workgroups continue to identify effective ways to implement the recommendations and reach outcome-driven results to expedite cleanups, site redevelopment, and community revitalization while protecting human health and the environment.
“Thanks to the hard work of EPA career officials, the Superfund Task Force has strengthened the program in numerous ways, from accelerating cleanups to promoting redevelopment to improving community engagement,” said Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The recommendations generated by the Task Force and applied by the Superfund program have directly improved the health and economic opportunity of thousands of people living near Superfund sites. We are taking concrete steps to ensure that the work of the Task Force continues to enhance the Superfund program moving forward.”
So, the important work of the Superfund Task Force will live on through the Superfund Program as EPA continue its essential efforts to expediting cleanups to protect people’s health and the environment. Going forward, EPA plans to:
Improve accountability and ensure the work continues in the future by tracking and reporting on our progress with a new set of performance measures: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-metrics.
Conduct a strategic and comprehensive portfolio review of every site remaining on the NPL to enable EPA to better utilize the Task Force’s tools and lessons learned in advancing cleanups across the country and continue to identify and implement new opportunities and approaches to improve the program’s performance and effectiveness.
Commissioned in May 2017 to provide recommendations on how EPA could streamline and improve the Superfund Program, the Task Force issued its initial report in July 2017 with 42 recommendations in five goal areas. Based on the collective experience of EPA’s career staff and others, the recommendations offered important suggestions for improving the program and expediting site cleanups through remediation and back to productive use.
And in its final report, the Task Force outlines five goals:
Goal 1: Expediting Cleanup and Remediation - The Task Force developed several tools to expedite cleanup and remediation at sites including the Administrator’s Emphasis List, a list of sites targeted for the administrator’s immediate and intense attention. The agency will continue using the Emphasis List to focus on sites needing immediate and intense attention and will update the list quarterly. Substantial progress has been made at sites on this list, for example:
New Castle, Delaware: At the Delaware Sand and Gravel Landfill Superfund Site a settlement with responsible parties was secured allowing the initiation of pre-design work and installation of two groundwater interceptor wells to protect water supply wells.
Picher and Cardin, Oklahoma: At the Tar Creek Superfund Site the Agency brought together various parties to develop a long-term strategy to manage risks, cleanup, and economic opportunities at the site.
Goal 2: Re-Invigorating Responsible Party Cleanup and Reuse - The Task Force developed new enforcement guidance for EPA’s regional offices to accelerate remedial design starts at potentially responsible party (PRP)-lead Superfund sites. Moving forward, the guidance’s recommended settlement strategy will be considered by EPA regions as a matter of national practice. This guidance has accelerated work at several sites, for example:
Calvert City, Kentucky: At the B.F. Goodrich Site EPA negotiated a settlement agreement with PRPs for the remedial design. The agreement allows the PRPs to begin designing the cleanup while negotiating a separate agreement for the remedial action phase of the cleanup.
Goal 3: Encouraging Private Investment - The Task Force recognized that EPA should support, where appropriate, innovative approaches to promote third-party investment in cleanup and reuse of contaminated properties consistent with statutory authorities. By the end of 2019, EPA plans to issue a memorandum to EPA regional offices to promote this approach where appropriate and in the interest of the Superfund Program, for example:
Fredericktown, Missouri: At the Madison County Mines Site, EPA entered into an administrative settlement with Missouri Mining Investments, LLC to conduct removal actions at the site. This will result in the consolidation and capping of on-site mine waste and allow the approximately 1,750-acre property to be redeveloped for future mining of cobalt and other metals.
Goal 4: Promoting Redevelopment and Community Revitalization - The Task Force worked to increase the number of NPL sites that are returned to communities for redevelopment through focused management attention and improved program practices. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, EPA achieved the goal sitewide ready for anticipated use at 51 sites, the highest total since FY 2013. EPA will continue to post specific information about sites available for redevelopment prominently on the Superfund Redevelopment website for stakeholders, developers, and businesses seeking information, for example:
Libby, Montana: The agency identified the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site and the Libby Groundwater Contamination Superfund site as redevelopment opportunities. In addition to a cleanup that restored neighborhoods and business areas, parts of the sites are now in reuse. The Riverfront Park now has river access, pavilions, a memorial, parking, and picnic tables.
Goal 5: Engaging Partners and Stakeholders - The Task Force initiated a number of ongoing outreach activities to engage communities near Superfund sites, for example:
Partnership and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy: EPA developed and released a “Partnership and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy”(https://semspub.epa.gov/work/HQ/100000860.pdf) to strengthen EPA partnerships and increase public participation and transparency at Superfund sites across the country.
Risk Communication Strategy: The agency developed a plan (https://semspub.epa.gov/work/HQ/199586.pdf) to improve risk communication and community involvement practices during the long-term stewardship phase of Superfund site remediation. Lessons learned from implementing this plan will be applied across the life-cycle of the Superfund process.
More information on EPA’s Superfund Task Force and the final Superfund Task Force Report can be found on EPA's website here >>
A storyboard highlighting Superfund Task Force success stories from across the country can be found here >>