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EPA Adds New Hazardous Waste Sites to the NPL

  1. How many and what types of sites is EPA proposing to the Superfund National Priority List (NPL) with this proposed rule?
  2. How many and what types of sites is EPA adding to the NPL with this final rule?
  3. Where can I find more information on the proposed and final sites?
  4. What sites in the proposed rule are particularly complex or expensive?
  5. Why is EPA withdrawing its proposal to list the East Multnomah County Ground Water Contamination site on the NPL in today's proposed rule?
  6. Did EPA change its criteria for NPL listing in Fiscal Year (FY) 2004?
  7. How many sites did EPA finalize on the NPL in fiscal year 2003 and how many will EPA finalize in fiscal year 2004?
  8. How many sites did EPA propose to the NPL in fiscal year 2003 and how many will EPA propose in fiscal year 2004?
  9. What is the status of the NPL as of September 22, 2004?
  10. Why and how did these sites get proposed or finalized for the National Priorities List (NPL)?
  11. What factors does EPA consider when placing sites on the NPL?
  12. What happens when a site is listed on the NPL?
  13. Is EPA continuing to list sites on the NPL?
  14. Why is EPA continuing to list sites on the NPL if not all construction projects are being funded this year?
  15. Have budget cuts or funding shortfalls reduced NPL site listings?
  16. Has the expiration of Superfund taxes or the balance in the Superfund Trust Fund had an impact on funding for the Superfund program?
  1. How many and what types of sites is EPA proposing to the Superfund National Priority List (NPL) with this proposed rule?

    EPA is proposing 14 sites, based on a combination of factors, with the principal factor being the degree of risk to human health and to sensitive environments. Other influential factors were the need for urgent response; maintenance of a strong enforcement program; ability to leverage cleanup by others; level of support for listing from States, Tribes, and communities; and program management and resource considerations.

    The sites include a dry cleaner, former landfills, active and former manufacturers, contaminated soil, active septic disposal, pesticide storage warehouse, contaminated ground water plumes, and mining sites. The sites present an array of contaminants including, but not limited to, lead, arsenic, cadmium, perchloroethylene, trichloroethene, pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs), radionuclides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

  2. How many and what types of sites is EPA adding to the NPL with this final rule?

    EPA is finalizing two sites, based on a combination of factors, with the principal factor being the degree of risk to human health and to sensitive environments. Other influential factors were the need for urgent response; maintenance of a strong enforcement program; ability to leverage cleanup by others; level of support for listing from States, Tribes, and communities; and program management and resource considerations. The two sites consist of a dry cleaner and a contaminated ground water plume. The contaminants of concern at these sites include perchloroethylene and trichloroethene.

  3. Where can I find more information on the proposed and final sites?

    For the Federal Register notices and support documents for the new proposed and final rules, go to the Current NPL Updates page.

  4. What sites in the proposed rule are particularly complex or expensive?

    All of the 14 sites in this NPL final rule present threats to human health and pose a need for Federal action. However, several sites are complex and/or expensive. Two sites are mining sites: Brewer Gold Mine, an inactive former gold mine where mining activities may date back to the 1500's and an overflow pond failure resulted in a fish kill along 49 miles of Lynches River; and Klau/Buena Vista Mine, two abandoned mercury mines on adjacent properties where processing operations have resulted in mercury contamination to nearby surface water bodies and significant bioaccumulation of mercury in several fish species.

  5. Why is EPA withdrawing its proposal to list the East Multnomah County Ground Water Contamination site on the NPL in today's proposed rule?

    EPA is withdrawing its proposal to list the East Multnomah County Ground Water Contamination site on the NPL. The site, located in Multnomah County, Oregon, was proposed to the NPL on May 10, 1993 (58 FR 27507). Documentation requesting withdrawal of the sites was submitted by the State and EPA Region 10 and is available in the Docket for today's proposed rule.

    EPA is withdrawing this site according to its policy as described in the November 12, 2002 memorandum entitled "Guidelines for Withdrawing a Proposal to List a Site on the NPL (De-Proposal)".

    EPA does not believe that further response under Superfund is needed at this time. The ground water contamination has been mitigated and all cleanup systems have been operating effectively; all that remains is additional pumping and treating. The State has been in charge of cleanup since listing and it has legally enforceable agreements with the responsible parties to continue the treatment system until cleanup is complete. Those agreements are in the docket. The State and community strongly support withdrawing the site from the proposed NPL.

  6. Did EPA change its criteria for NPL listing in Fiscal Year (FY) 2004?

    EPA has not changed its criteria for listing sites and still relies on the Hazard Ranking System to list most sites. The Agency is, however, generally using a more consistent method for determining the sites that should be further evaluated by EPA for proposal to the NPL to ensure that Agency resources are generally focused on sites presenting human health threats. In determining sites that will be further evaluated for proposal to the NPL, the Agency may also generally take into account other factors such as the need to support a strong enforcement program, State and community support for listing, and whether other options are available for cleanup.

  7. How many sites did EPA finalize on the NPL in fiscal year 2003 and how many will EPA finalize in fiscal year 2004?

    EPA listed 20 final sites on the NPL in fiscal year 2003. EPA listed nine final sites in a July 22, 2004 final rule (69 FR 43755). With today's final rule, EPA is listing two additional final sites. Thus, for fiscal year 2004, EPA listed 11 final sites. (Note that the number of sites listed on the NPL has varied greatly over the years. For example, between 1991 and 2003, as few as 3 sites and as many as 43 sites were finalized in one year. The 11 final sites listed in fiscal year 2004 falls within that range.)

  8. How many sites did EPA propose to the NPL in fiscal year 2003 and how many will EPA propose in fiscal year 2004?

    EPA proposed 14 sites to the NPL in fiscal year 2003. EPA proposed 11 sites in a March 8, 2004 proposed rule (69 FR 10646). In addition, the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Area site in Puerto Rico was proposed to the NPL on August 13, 2004 (69 FR 50115). With today's final rule, EPA is proposing 14 additional sites. Thus, for fiscal year 2004, EPA proposed 26 sites. (Note that the number of sites proposed on the NPL has varied greatly over the years. For example, between 1991 and 2003, as few as 9 sites and as many as 52 sites were proposed in one year. The 26 sites proposed in fiscal year 2004 falls within this range.)

  9. What is the status of the NPL as of September 22, 2004?

    With this proposal of 14 new sites and withdrawal of one site, there are now 68 sites proposed and awaiting final agency action, 61 in the General Superfund Section and 7 in the Federal Facilities Section. With two new sites going final, there are now 1,244 final sites on the NPL; 1086 in the General Superfund Section and 158 in the Federal Facilities Section. Final and proposed sites now total 1,312.

  10. Why and how did these sites get proposed or finalized for the National Priorities List (NPL)?

    Potentially hazardous sites are brought to the attention of the EPA Superfund program through various means, such as citizen petitions/complaints, State and Tribal referrals, and some limited active discovery. EPA Regions carry out an initial, limited investigation that usually consists of a preliminary assessment and site inspection (PA/SI). The information collected during the PA/SI is used to develop a site score by applying the Hazard Ranking System (HRS). The HRS is a numerically based screening process that evaluates the relative potential of a site for posing a threat to human health and the environment. Sites that score $28.5 (on a scale of 0 - 100) are eligible for the NPL. Eligible sites that Regions/States submit for proposal to the NPL are prioritized for proposal, an important step in addressing the nation's most seriously contaminated sites.

  11. What factors does EPA consider when placing sites on the NPL?

    For the most recent update to the NPL, EPA considered several factors in the selection of proposed and final sites, including:

    • The degree of risk to human health and the environment;
    • The immediate need for a Federal response;
    • The level of State, Tribal, and local community support for listing;
    • Whether or not there was a viable potentially responsible party (PRP); and
    • Geographical balance, maintenance of a strong enforcement program, ability to leverage cleanup by others, and program management and resource considerations.
  12. What happens when a site is listed on the NPL?

    First, EPA assesses the site to determine if there are any immediate threats to nearby populations. If there is an immediate threat, an emergency response or removal action may have already occurred or will be taken. These actions may include removing soil or containers of hazardous wastes, draining waste ponds, providing a safe supply of drinking water, or installing fences to prevent direct contact with hazardous substances.

    EPA also begins a search for the parties responsible for the contamination at the site. These parties are called potentially responsible parties or PRPs. This search often begins prior to listing. Historically, about 70 percent of Superfund work has been carried out or paid for by PRPs.

    EPA will then undertake a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) to better understand the full nature and extent of the problem at a site and to identify appropriate cleanup options. When sites complete the study and design phase and are ready for remedial action funding, the EPA National Priority Panel will consider a cleanup construction project as a "new start" for remedial action.

    However, most sites that are newly listed on the NPL are not at that stage, and regional budgets, workloads, and priorities determine when work continues on any specific site, whether it be the start of an RI/FS or other response actions. Actions at NPL sites with PRPs carrying out the work with EPA oversight (and an enforcement agreement in place) are also ongoing. There are no limitations on remedial action resulting from the Superfund prioritization or funding process at sites funded by the PRPs.

    EPA does not expect that significant remedial action (construction) funds will be needed for several years for newly listed NPL sites without viable PRPs, since the RI/FSs and development of a record of decision (ROD) could take some years to complete. Further, these activities do not use EPA's cleanup construction funds. However, site cleanup is a long, complex process that may take millions of dollars and many years to complete for the most complicated sites. The cleanup process requires extensive data collection and analysis to characterize the scope of the problem. Sites may have multimedia (soils, surface water, or groundwater) contamination by many different types of chemicals. Larger sites may have to be broken up into several portions called "operable units" to address all the problems at the site. Because of the complexity of the cleanup process, a short completion timeframe for construction projects at the vast majority of sites should not be expected.

  13. Is EPA continuing to list sites on the NPL?

    EPA continues to list sites on the NPL. The number of sites listed on the NPL has varied greatly over the years. For example, between 1991 and 2003, as few as 9 sites and as many as 52 sites were proposed in one year. During the same period, the range of sites finalized ranged from 3 to 43. Fourteen proposed sites and 20 final sites were listed in FY 2003.

  14. Why is EPA continuing to list sites on the NPL if not all construction projects are being funded this year?

    These separate Superfund program functions are not mutually exclusive. Final NPL listing starts a site down a path of investigation, study, and design stages that can take a number of years. Only when a remedy for long-term cleanup is finally decided does a site become eligible for long-term cleanup funding. In addition, EPA searches for other sources of clean up funding (parties responsible for site contamination - PRPs) and monitors the site for any change in status that might require additional short-term cleanup. Historically, the parties responsible for contamination at Superfund sites pay for or perform the clean up at 70% of the sites.

  15. Have budget cuts or funding shortfalls reduced NPL site listings?

    No. The Superfund program's Congressional appropriation has remained relatively steady over the past five years. EPA has, and will continue to, propose and finalize sites to the NPL. Since 1992, EPA has placed between 13-43 sites per year on the final National Priorities List, and EPA expects to list a comparable number of sites this year. In FY2003, EPA proposed 14 sites and finalized 20 sites to the NPL. Historically, 70 percent of cleanups are paid for or performed each year by parties held responsible for the contamination. For the newly listed sites without viable PRPs, EPA does not expect to need significant construction funds for a number of years, since investigations to determine the full extent of the contamination must first be conducted.

  16. Has the expiration of Superfund taxes or the balance in the Superfund Trust Fund had an impact on funding for the Superfund program?

    The expiration of Superfund taxes or the Trust Fund balance has not affected appropriated funding levels for the Superfund program. Annual congressional appropriations for the program have remained relatively steady, both before and after the expiration of the taxes. The Superfund program appropriations have historically included funding from both general revenues and trust fund revenues. The source of congressional appropriations does not affect cleanup funding. EPA is confident that Congress will continue to provide funding for the Superfund program. Further, 70 percent of Superfund sites are cleaned up by the parties responsible for the contamination. At the remaining 30 percent of sites, EPA uses congressionally appropriated funding to pay for cleanup. Since 1980, EPA has secured more than $22 billion in cleanup commitments and cost recoveries from private parties.

 

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