There are over 1,300 Superfund sites currently in various stages of cleanup. Cleanup, and the studies associated with it, can be a drawn out process, leaving property reuse and community revitalization on hold for years. In May, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt established a task force to look at improving and streamlining the Superfund cleanup process.
The task force worked on a number of goals: finding ways to expedite site cleanup and reuse, engaging partners and encouraging private investment, promoting redevelopment and community revitalization, and reinvigorating potentially responsible parties’ (PRPs) efforts for cleanup and reuse.
The task force had 42 recommendations, and Pruitt has narrowed the list to a handful of priority tasks. Some highlights:
- Each EPA region is to:
- Submit cleanup status and reuse potential for each site in their region.
- Submit total indirect costs charged to PRPs for 2016 and 2017 and what formula they use to determine that number.
- Make a list of sites to be proposed for deletion or deleted within the next 12 months in order to expedite that.
- Identify and prioritize sites where the risk of human exposure is not fully controlled.
- Prevent years of delays by using more early/interim response actions for migration and risk, and less long studies. Where possible, allow portions of sites for reuse while more detailed evaluations of the other portions are carried out.
- Focus resources on the sites with the most reuse potential, and Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Studies (RI/FS) for sites which require more immediate action.
- Encourage PRPs, state and local governments and real estate to work together to identify opportunities for reuse.
- Use enforcement authorities and unilateral orders more actively to discourage drawn out negotiations over response actions.