News Releases from Region 02
Highlights Key Trump Administration Accomplishments, Focuses on Future
NEW YORK - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released annual Superfund Accomplishments Report documenting national achievements in the Superfund program during FY 2019. The Superfund program addresses the nation’s most contaminated sites and is a key priority for the Trump Administration. The report also documents improvements to the program as a result of the Superfund Task Force work under EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
“Superfund epitomizes EPA’s core work to protect communities across the country. It makes people’s lives better by addressing local contamination and it strengthens our partnerships with state and local governments, communities and nongovernmental organizations,” said EPA Regional Administrator, Pete Lopez. “This Superfund Accomplishments Report is a snapshot that tells a story of the success we have had in the past year, while keeping focused on continued progress. In New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, we have made a real difference and protecting people’s health while transforming blighted sites and turning them into assets to the community.”
The FY 2019 report highlights achievements to improve site cleanups, protect health, revitalize our communities, innovate through science and technology, and engage communities. Across America, communities continue to experience the benefits of EPA’s Superfund program. Several key community highlights from FY 2019 include:
Preventing Large-Scale Releases, Fire, and Explosions at the Tonawanda Coke Corporation
In Tonawanda New York October 2018, the Tonawanda Coke Corporation (TCC) suspended operations in October 2018 and abandoned its facility, leaving behind numerous coal and coke piles, drums, and tanks with coal tar sludges, acids, bases, flammable liquids, and potentially explosive materials.
EPA took immediate action to prevent a large-scale release of hazardous waste and to mitigate the potential for fire and explosions that would have been devastating to the surrounding residential community, nearby industrial facilities, and the Niagara River, which borders the site. EPA quickly stabilized the site through a phased shutdown of plant operations. This shutdown included securing all drums, containers, and tanks; treating waste; and systematically de-energizing process lines filled with hazardous substances. Using the VIPER system, EPA's Environmental Response Team was extensively involved in air monitoring of the site during the initial stage of the removal action. EPA successfully completed response work at the TCC property and in March 2020 handed the site back to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for management of future work at the site under the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program and the State Superfund program.
Collaborating to Restore the Health of Grasse River (aka Alcoa Aggregation Site)
In Massena, New York, EPA directed the first phase of cleaning up the river in Fiscal Year 19, dredging approximately 95,000 cubic yards of sediment containing PCBs deposited from historical industrial activity from a 7.2 mile stretch between Massena and the Saint Lawrence River. This is a big step in carrying out the 2013 cleanup decision for the lower Grasse River which called for capping 284 acres of river bottom in the main channel, removal of PCB-contaminated sediment from near-shore areas, and backfilling of dredged areas with clean material. The estimated cost associated with the original plan was $243 million.
EPA is continuing to work closely with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Department of Health, and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Environment Division to oversee and coordinate cleanup, which focused on habitat reconstruction to help restore the river’s health.
Adapting to Speed up Progress at New Jersey’s Berry’s Creek
In Bergen County, New Jersey, work began in 2019 on a $332 million cleanup decision to remove two feet of sediment and place a cap that will isolate contaminated sediments. The cap will be placed over approximately 87 acres of waterways within the Berry’s Creek marsh, contaminated with high levels of mercury, methyl mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chromium released from past practices of industrial facilities. EPA is using an adaptive management approach to address the parts of the site causing the highest risk and source of contamination and then using that information to inform cleanup on the remaining portions of the site.
Other key achievements in the report include:
Finishing the job by deleting all or part of 27 sites from the Superfund’s National Priorities List, the largest number of deletions in a single year since 2001.
Targeting sites for the Administrator’s immediate and intense attention, using the Administrator’s Emphasis List to resolve issues delaying cleanups and spur action at sites that in many cases have been waiting idle amid uncertainty for years.
Completing 233 removal actions to address imminent and substantial threats to human health and the environment.
Securing more than $570 million from Potentially Responsible Parties to clean up Superfund sites and reimburse the agency more than $280 million.
Celebrating 20 years of redeveloping more than 1,000 Superfund sites that now support 9,180 businesses, generating $58.3 billion in sales and employing more than 208,400 people earning a combined income of more than $14.4 billion.
Expanding the charge for the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to identify additional opportunities for EPA to engage with communities, expedite cleanups and return sites to productive use.
Read the full report here: https://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/HQ/100002479
Additional information about EPA’s Superfund program can be read here: https://www.epa.gov/superfund
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