EPA Announces Plans to Use First $1B from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funds to Clear Out the Superfund Backlog

New Jersey Communities will Benefit

December 17, 2021

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NEW YORK – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $1 billion investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to initiate cleanup and clear the backlog of 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites and accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country. Until this historic investment, many of these were part of a backlog of hazardous waste sites awaiting funding. Thousands of contaminated sites exist nationally due to hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open, or otherwise improperly managed. These sites include manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills and mining sites.

“This work is just the beginning; with more than 1 in 4 Black and Hispanic Americans living within 3 miles of a Superfund site, EPA is working to serve people that have been left behind,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Approximately 60 percent of the sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects are in historically underserved communities. Communities living near many of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination will finally get the protections they deserve.”

The $1 billion investment is the first wave of funding from the $3.5 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help cleanup polluted Superfund sites in communities. The backlog of previously unfunded sites that will now be receiving funding are in 24 states and territories and all 10 EPA regions, including some communities who have been waiting for cleanup for more than four years.

EPA is committed to carrying out this work in line with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative by advancing environmental justice and incorporating equity considerations into all aspects of the Superfund cleanup process. This will help ensure that historic and ongoing impacts of contamination on overburdened communities are fully considered and addressed.

“With today’s announcement, help is on the way to communities across the country plagued by the risks of living near a Superfund site. Nowhere is that more true than in my home state of New Jersey, which has the greatest number of Superfund sites in the country,” said Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. “I’m thrilled the bipartisan infrastructure law is being put to immediate use to clean up backlogged sites and give our communities the peace of mind they deserve. Thanks to its partial reinstatement of the Superfund Polluter Pays tax, cleanup sites will have more dedicated funding moving forward, and with the Build Back Better Act’s full reinstatement, unfunded sites could become a thing of the past.”

“With the most Superfund sites in the nation, the impact that decades-long contamination has on communities across New Jersey – many of which are threatened by climate change – is one of our most pressing environmental issues. That is why I fought hard to ensure that this critical and historic funding would be part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to clean up long overlooked Superfund sites in New Jersey,” said Sen. Bob Menendez. “This funding will be transformational for New Jersey communities impacted by toxic contamination and will provide critical investments in communities of color and low-income communities, which are disproportionately affected by legacy contamination from abandoned Superfund sites.”

Administrator Regan visited the Lower Darby Creek Area site in Pennsylvania, one of the many sites with ongoing work that will receive a boost from the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding. Along with new construction projects, infrastructure funds will be used to accelerate ongoing work and begin cleanup at additional Superfund sites in various stages of pre-construction and planning throughout the country.

These Superfund cleanup projects will make a visible and lasting difference in communities. In one Florida community, residents have been advocating for removal of creosote-contaminated soil in their neighborhood for years. At a New York site, lead contaminated soil will be removed from people’s backyards. At a site in New Mexico, EPA will address the source area of a contaminated groundwater plume migrating towards a community.

The funds will supercharge the Superfund program to address the toll contaminated sites have on communities. EPA is finalizing cleanup plans and preparing funding mechanisms to get construction work started as soon as possible. More information about funding for backlogged sites and accelerated cleanup sites will be available in the coming weeks.

In 1980, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, known as Superfund, was passed. The novel law gave EPA the authority and funds to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up the most contaminated sites across the country. When no viable responsible party is found or cannot afford the cleanup, funds appropriated by Congress are used. A tax on chemical and petroleum industries provided funds to the Superfund Trust fund for Superfund cleanups up until 1995. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law reinstates the chemical excise taxes and invests an additional $3.5 billion in environmental remediation at Superfund sites, making it one of the largest investments in American history to address the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation investment that will create millions of jobs modernizing our infrastructure, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st century. 

In New Jersey, the following Superfund Sites are slated to receive Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding:

Highlighting that thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds, EPA is moving projects forward in NJ communities, Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia today visited the Unimatic Manufacturing Superfund Site in Fairfield. She was joined by U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. With 114, New Jersey has more federal Superfund Sites than any other state in the nation. The funds will be used to demolish the on-site building and excavate PCB and pesticide contaminated soil. The building debris and excavated soil will be sent off-site for proper disposal. Excavation of PCB contaminated sediment and long-term groundwater monitoring will be part of future work.

"We are witnessing a once-in-a-generation investment that gives EPA the resources to clean up legacy pollution that has gone unaddressed for far too long, particularly in underserved and overburdened communities," said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. "The funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will go directly toward shovel-ready sites such as Unimatic, giving back a healthy and vibrant environment to the Fairfield community."

“For too long, New Jerseyans have dealt with the hazardous burdens Superfund sites place on our environment, public health, and communities,” said Rep. Sherrill. “As Chairwoman of the Environment Subcommittee, I’m proud that the funding we included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act -- and the announcement of this plan to finally move forward with projects that will help remediate these toxic sites, including right here in NJ-11 -- will be instrumental to improving the health and safety of our community as a whole. It is just one of the many examples of how this infrastructure law is bringing funding directly back to NJ-11 to address real needs facing New Jersey and our families, making our communities stronger for generations to come. I want to thank EPA Regional Administrator Garcia and NJ DEP Commissioner LaTourette for joining me in NJ-11 today and for their steadfast commitment to remediating these Superfund sites.”

"DEP welcomes the notable increase of federal funds to jumpstart cleanups at seven New Jersey Superfund sites, including the Unimatic PCB site in Fairfield,” said Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “New Jersey's strong partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will ensure that the bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides funding to protect public health and restore our natural resources, making our communities safer and returning these seven properties to productive use whether for open space or commercial activity.”

Superfund is the federal cleanup program established by Congress in 1980 to investigate and clean up the country's most hazardous waste sites. While the Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, EPA will use federal funding when those responsible for the pollution cannot be found or are not financially viable.

At the White Chemical Superfund Site in Newark, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill funds will be used to bioremediate groundwater contaminated with volatile organic compounds, specifically trichloroethylene and 1,2-dichloroethane. EPA plans to apply non-hazardous additives to the groundwater to promote the breakdown of contaminants.

"The White Chemical Superfund site is one of the most important such areas in Newark that requires remediation. This federal funding will enable us to spur redevelopment of the Dayton neighborhood and enhance both Newark’s prosperity and a higher quality of life for local residents,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “I am grateful to President Biden, Congress, and the EPA for restoring funding to clean up this longstanding toxic site in Newark.”

“I am proud to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s commitment to clean up the White Chemical Corporation property in my district,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.  “I helped pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that included the funding necessary to clean up this site and 49 other Superfund sites nationwide. The White Chemical site has been an environmental hazard and threatened the health and safety of minority communities in my district for decades.  The EPA’s action to clean it up is a great example of the Biden Administration’s leadership to address climate change and climate justice.”   

At the Diamond Head Oil Superfund Site in Kearny, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill funds will be used to excavate, remove, and dispose of soil containing dioxin and oily waste (light non-aqueous phase liquid) as well as consolidation on the site and capping of surface soil containing residual levels of PCB, and lead and chromium.

“I am pleased that the Diamond Head Oil Refinery, located in Kearny, will receive the funding needed to address long-standing issues related to this Superfund site,” said Congressman Albio Sires. “The funding for cleanup is made possible from the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, which was signed into law earlier this fall, demonstrating the many positive impacts this legislation is having on our communities in New Jersey’s 8th District.”

“The local community welcomes the news,” said Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos. “For decades, we have sought to redevelop this site which is located along key roadways and near a major retail center.  We’re hopeful that this public funding will get us closer to that goal.”

At the Roebling Steel Superfund site in Florence Township, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill funds will be used to perform long-term groundwater monitoring, capping of soil, building decontamination, demolition, and historic preservation mitigation measures.

At the Unimatic Manufacturing site in Fairfield, NJ, the Infrastructure funds will be used to demolish the on-site building and excavate PCB- and pesticide- contaminated soils. The building debris and excavated soil will be sent off-site for proper disposal. Excavation of PCB contaminated sediment and long-term groundwater monitoring will be part of future work that will require infrastructure funds.

“Clean air, clean water, and clean soil are essential to living healthy fulfilling lives. I’m glad EPA now has the resources to address two additional sites in Burlington County that were stuck in a backlog despite being recognized as a National Priority and will begin these cleanup projects soon,” said Congressman Andy Kim. “By voting for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, I voted to rebuild our infrastructure and supercharge cleanup projects around New Jersey. These investments in our communities will help everyone in the surrounding areas, and I look forward to seeing these and more cleanup projects coming to New Jersey in the near future.”

 “This is great news,” said Florence Mayor Craig H. Wilkie. “The Roebling Steel site has become such an asset to our community after the former slag area and contaminated creek areas were cleaned up. With the Heritage trail now open along the creek, the public now can see what a large site the Roebling steel site is. Through our continued partnership with the EPA we return to the public, land that has not been available for use in over 100 years. We are grateful to the commitment the EPA Superfund staff has shown to our community. What a great future we have thanks to this partnership.”

At the Former Kil-Tone Superfund site in Vineland, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill funds will be used to excavate soil contaminated with arsenic and lead from at least 36 properties located in a largely residential neighborhood impacted by the past operations of the former Kil-Tone company, including the former Kil-Tone Company property itself. Excavated soil will be sent off-site for proper disposal and the properties will be restored.

At the Garfield Groundwater Contamination Superfund Site in Garfield, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill funds will be used to treat hexavalent chromium in groundwater by a a combination of cleanup measures to address the problem in the long term, including treatment of the contaminated groundwater with a non-hazardous additive that will reduce the contamination, and restrictions on the use of the groundwater.

At the Kauffman & Minteer Superfund Site in Jobstown, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill funds will be used to treat volatile organic contaminants, specifically trichloroethylene and 1,2-dichloroethene, by a combination of groundwater extraction and treatment. EPA proposes applying non-hazardous additives to the ground water to promote the breakdown of contaminants (bioremediation).

For more information and to see a list of the 49 sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-sites-new-construction-projects-receive-bipartisan-infrastructure-law-funding

For more information about EPA’s Superfund program, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/eparegion2

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