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Round 2-6: Community Involvement in the Enforcement Process

Reform Description
In February 1995, EPA announced its commitment to pilot ways in which community involvement in the enforcement process could be enhanced as part of the Superfund Reforms effort.

Many of the piloted activities involve providing opportunities for communities to discuss and review draft technical plans (i.e., draft work plans for investigations of site contamination and design and conduct of cleanups) to be implemented by PRPs. For sites in the early stages of the cleanup pipeline (i.e., investigations), Regions intend to continue enhanced community involvement measures during the later stages of the cleanup pipeline (i.e., remediation).

Other piloted activities in this initiative include involving citizens in removal actions implemented by PRPs, developing consensus on future land use, and having citizens review treatability study documents prepared by PRPs.

These piloted activities are related to, but distinct from, the steps that the Agency already takes at each site to involve the community whenever it selects a response action or finalizes a settlement agreement (i.e., the opportunity for public review and comment on proposed cleanup plans or settlements). It is also distinct from a separate Superfund reform, Reform 2-5a, involving the establishment of Community Assistance Groups (CAGs) at Superfund sites.

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Reform Status
check mark Implementation of this reform is complete.

EPA continues to test various ways to enhance community involvement in the enforcement process. Approaches found to be effective are being utilized at a number of sites outside the pilot project.

For the thirteen pilots examined, the Agency has learned that increased community involvement resulted in widespread community acceptance and support of cleanup actions and community members felt more informed and had a better understanding of the progress of response activities at a site. The Agency will continue to use traditional and innovative approaches to educate the community so they can participate in the Superfund process effectively.incorporated lessons learned from this reform, through the examination of thirteen pilots, into the program. Input from the affected communities on the Pilot activities proved valuable by increasing community involvement, understanding, and acceptance of the work being conducted. Community members appreciated the opportunity to participate and act as stakeholders in the decision-making process. This reform is now considered closed out and no further accomplishment information will be gathered. Please review the lesson learned for further details.

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EPA initiated pilot projects at 13 sites in 9 of its 10 Regions for cases in which PRPs committed to conducting cleanup actions or investigations. EPA has completed pilots at 11 of these sites. Several approaches were implemented, including inviting communities to review and comment on draft technical work plans and actively disseminating information. The pilot sites include: EPA piloted these approaches to observe what impact they have on Superfund cleanups and settlement negotiations. At some selected sites, piloted activities are completed; at other sites, EPA continues to test various approaches.

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Lessons Learned
For the thirteen pilots examined, some delays were reported due to increased community involvement. For many of the pre-ROD pilots, it was generally noted that community involvement had resulted in considerable, but unspecified delays in finalizing the ROD. At a few post-ROD sites, community involvement delayed construction activities. At these sites, community involvement played a crucial role in lengthening the negotiation period with PRPs. However, these delays resulted in higher quality work products and increased community acceptance and support.

Soliciting input from the communities yielded varied results. Where communities have become involved, their input has often proven valuable. In many pilots, increased community involvement resulted in greater community understanding and acceptance of the work being conducted. Community members appreciate the opportunity to participate and act as stakeholders in the decision making process. Communities were also satisfied with the level and quality of PRP interaction.

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Stakeholder Comments
Participants at the Pine Street Canal pilot in Vermont commented that community members thought EPA had been successful at making site information available to them, providing them with the opportunity to comment on technical documents, considering their input, and providing them with an opportunity to communicate with PRPs.

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Success Stories
Vertac Site, AR

At the Vertac site in Jacksonville, Arkansas, EPA conducted several open houses and a number of official briefings after developing the site remedy. The meetings aimed to solicit comments from citizens on how to proceed with cleanup. As a result of community input, the proposed plan for soils was rewritten.

In addition, EPA established a satellite community involvement office that helped EPA staff establish a greater presence within the community and made it easier for the Region to oversee community involvement. The satellite office served as a focal point where community members could ask questions, articulate concerns, and obtain information. Most community members felt that EPA was very responsive to their concerns. [FY98 Success]

Asarco Tacoma Smelter, Tacoma, WA

At the Asarco Tacoma Smelter (part of the Commencement Bay-Nearshore Tideflats site), the community was given the opportunity to review and comment on the Site Community Relations Plan and draft cleanup work plans as well as to provide input on road closures and transportation impacts, future land use and institutional controls. EPA's Region 10 office intends to continue enhanced community measures during the ongoing design of the cleanup and get feedback from the community during the redevelopment of the site. [FY97 Success]

Eagle Mine Site, Minturn, CO

At the Eagle Mine site, the Eagle River Environmental and Business Alliance (the Alliance), a group of community residents, was given the opportunity to review and comment on draft cleanup work plans prepared by the parties performing the cleanup. Many of the comments received from the Alliance were used to guide and formulate cleanup activities. In addition, the Alliance was very much involved in the review of the controversial series of risk assessments conducted around a middle school adjacent to the site. Because of the Alliance's review and agreement with EPA's risk conclusions, the controversy was resolved to the public's satisfaction. The Alliance continues to be involved in the ongoing Eagle Mine project. [FY97 Success]

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