EPA Calls Superfund Cleanup Progress 'Significant'
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's annual summary of the Superfund program’s fiscal year (FY) 2009 progress shows that the program continues to make significant progress in cleaning up the country’s most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste.
In FY 2009, which ended on Sept. 30, EPA completed all of its construction projects at 20 sites, for a cumulative total of 1,080 sites with construction completed – 67 percent of the top priority sites ranked on the National Priorities List (NPL). Superfund has continued to protect communities and the environment by listing 20 new sites and proposing that 23 sites be added to the NPL in FY 2009.
"Protecting human health and the environment, and restoring contaminated properties to environmental and economic vitality are EPA priorities," said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “EPA gives top priority to cleaning up sites that pose the greatest risk to human health and to the environment while engaging communities throughout the site decision-making process.”
With $582 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, EPA began new construction at 26 Superfund sites and provided additional support to ongoing construction activities at 25 other sites. The recovery act funding is supporting local economies by creating and maintaining jobs, and is increasing the speed in which Superfund sites are cleaned up and returned to productive use.
The agency conducted or oversaw more than 368 emergency response and removal actions to address immediate threats to communities, such as cleaning up spills and accidental releases of hazardous material in FY 2009.
Underscoring EPA's commitment to the "polluter pays" principle, the agency secured commitments from potentially responsible parties to conduct more than $1.99 billion in future response work, and to reimburse EPA for $371 million in past costs.
In 2010, EPA launched the Integrated Cleanup Initiative, which represents a commitment to improve program performance and provide communities with accountability and transparency. As a first step, EPA has developed a new publicly reported performance measure, an increase in the completion of Superfund remedial action projects. The new measure will provide more information regarding the actions necessary to bring site cleanups to completion and reuse.