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Federal Register Notice

48438 - 48442 Federal Register / Vol. 56, No. 186 / Wednesday, September 25, 1991 / Rules and Regulations

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48438 - 48442 Federal Register / Vol. 56, No. 186 / Wednesday, September 25, 1991 / Rules and Regulations


40 CFR Part 300

National Priorities List for Uncontrolled Hazardous Waste Sites

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency.
ACTION:  Final rule.


The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 ("CERCLA"), as amended, requires that the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan ("NCP") include a list of national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States. The National Priorities List ("NPL") constitutes this list.

This action adds the White Chemical Corp. site in Newark, New Jersey, to the NPL. The identification of a site for the NPL is intended primarily to guide the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") in determining which sites warrant further investigation to assess the nature and extent of the public health and environmental risks associated with the site and to determine what CERCLA-financed remedial action(s), if any, may be appropriate.


The effective date for this amendment to the NCP shall be October 25, 1991. CERCLA section 305 provides for a legislative veto of regulations promulgated under CERCLA. Although INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, 103 S. Ct. 2764 (1983), cast the validity of the legislative veto into question, EPA has transmitted a copy of this regulation to the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives. If any action by Congress calls the effective date of this regulation into question, the Agency will publish a notice of clarification in the Federal Register.

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Addresses for the Headquarters and Region 2 dockets are provided below. For further details on what these dockets contain, see the Public Comment Section, section I, of the "SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION" portion of this preamble.

Docket Coordinator
Headquarters, U.S. EPA CERCLA Docket Office, OS-245
Waterside Mall
401 M Street, SW.
Washington, DC 20460

Ben Conetta
Region 2
26 Federal Plaza, 7th Floor, room 740
New York, NY 10278


Agnes Ortiz
Hazardous Site Evaluation Division
Office of Superfund Remediation Technology Innovation (OS-230)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
401 M Street, SW.
Washington, DC 20460
or the Superfund Hotline, Phone (800) 424-9346 or (703) 920-9810 in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.


I. Introduction
II. Purpose and Implementation of the NPL
III. Contents of This NPL Final Rule
IV. Regulatory Impact Analysis
V. Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

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I. Introduction


In 1980, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. 9601-9675 ("CERCLA" or "the Act") in response to the dangers of uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous substance sites. CERCLA was amended on October 17, 1986, by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act ("SARA"), Public Law No. 99-499, stat. 1613 et seq. To implement CERCLA, the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA" or "the Agency") promulgated the revised National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan ("NCP"), 40 CFR part 300, on July 16, 1982 (47 FR 31180), pursuant to CERCLA section 105 and Executive Order 12316 (46 FR 42237, August 20, 1981). The NCP sets forth the guidelines and procedures needed to respond under CERCLA to releases and threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants. EPA has revised the NCP on several occasions, most recently on March 8, 1990 (55 FR 8666).

Section 105(a)(8)(A) of CERCLA requires that the NCP include "criteria for determining priorities among releases or threatened releases throughout the United States for the purpose of taking remedial action and, to the extent practicable, taking into account the potential urgency of such action, for the purpose of taking removal action." Removal action involves cleanup or other actions that are often taken in response to emergency conditions or on a short-term or temporary basis (CERCLA section 101(23)). Remedial action tends to be long-term in nature and involves response actions that are consistent with a permanent remedy for a release (CERCLA section 101(24)). Mechanisms for determining priorities for possible remedial actions financed by the Trust Fund established under CERCLA (commonly referred to as the "Superfund") are included in the NCP at 40 CFR 300.425 (c) (55 FR 8845, March 8, 1990). Under 40 CFR 300.425(c)(1), a site may be included on the NPL if it scores sufficiently high on the Hazard Ranking System ("HRS"), which EPA promulgated as appendix A of 40 CFR part 300, July 16, 1982 and amended on December 14, 1990 (55 FR 51532).

Under a second mechanism for adding sites to the NPL, each State may designate a single site as its top priority, regardless of the HRS score. See 40 CFR 300.425(c)(2).

The third mechanism for listing, included in the NCP at 40 CFR 300.425(c)(3), allows certain sites to be listed regardless of an HRS score, if all of the following occur:

Based on these criteria, and pursuant to section 105(a)(8)(B) of CERCLA, as amended by SARA, EPA prepares a list of national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States. The list, which is appendix B of 40 CFR part 300, is the NPL.

An original NPL of 406 sites was promulgated on September 8, 1983 (48 FR 40658). The NPL has been expanded since then, most recently on February 11, 1991 (56 FR 5598). The Agency also has proposed adding new sites to the NPL, most recently on July 29, 1991 (56 FR 35840).

The NPL includes two sections, one of sites evaluated and cleaned up by EPA (the "EPA section"), and one of sites being addressed by other Federal agencies (the "Federal Facilities Section"). Under Executive Order 12580 and CERCLA section 120, each Federal agency is responsible for carrying out most response actions at facilities under its own jurisdiction, custody, or control, although EPA is responsible for preparing an HRS score; EPA is not the lead agency at these sites, and its role at such sites is accordingly less extensive than at other sites. The Federal facilities section includes those facilities at which EPA is not the lead agency.

This rule results in an EPA section of 1,069 sites and a Federal facilities section of 116 sites, for a total of 1,185 sites on the NPL. An additional 22 sites are proposed to the NPL, 19 in the EPA section and 3 in the Federal facilities section.

EPA may delete sites from the NPL where no further response is appropriate, as explained in the NCP at 40 CFR 300.425(e) (55 FR 8845, March 8, 1990). To date, the Agency has deleted 38 sites from the final NPL, most recently on September 10, 1991 (56 FR 46121). In addition, 12 sites in the EPA section are in the construction completion category (56 FR 5634, February 11, 1991) and 13 others are awaiting final documentation before they can be formally placed in the construction completion category. The construction completion category includes sites awaiting deletion, sites awaiting first 5-year review after completion of the remedial action, and sites undergoing long-term remedial actions at which the construction phase of the action is complete.

Thus, a total of 63 sites have been deleted, placed in the construction completion category, or are awaiting final documentation before being placed in the construction completion category.

Pursuant to the NCP at 40 CFR 300.425(c)(3), this notice adds one site to the NPL.

Information Available to the Public

The Headquarters and Region 2 public dockets for the NPL (see Addresses portion of this notice) contain documents relating to the decision to add the White Chemical Corp. site in Newark, New Jersey, to the NPL. Both dockets contain the public health advisory issued by ATSDR and EPA memoranda supporting the findings that the release poses a significant threat to public health and that it would be more cost-effective to use remedial rather than removal authorities at the site. They also contain the one comment letter received following proposal. The dockets are available for viewing, by appointment only. The hours of operation for the Headquarters docket are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday excluding Federal holidays. The hours of operation for the Region 2 docket are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday excluding Federal holidays.

An informal written request, rather than a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), should be the ordinary procedure for obtaining copies of any of these documents.

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II. Purpose and Implementation of the NPL


The legislative history of CERCLA (Report of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senate Report No. 96-848, 96th Cong., 2d Sess. 60 (1980)) states the primary purpose of the NPL:

The priority lists serve primarily informational purposes, identifying for the States and the public those facilities and sites or other releases which appear to warrant remedial actions. Inclusion of a facility or site on the list does not in itself reflect a judgment of the activities of its owner or operator, it does not require those persons to undertake any action, nor does it assign liability to any person. Subsequent government action in the form of remedial actions or enforcement actions will be necessary in order to do so, and these actions will be attended by all appropriate procedural safeguards.

The purpose of the NPL, therefore, is primarily to serve as an informational and management tool. The identification of a site for the NPL is intended primarily to guide EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation to assess the nature and extent of the public health and environmental risks associated with the site and to determine what CERCLA-financed remedial action(s), if any, may be appropriate. The NPL also serves to notify the public of sites that EPA believes warrant further investigation. Finally, listing a site may, to the extent that potentially responsible parties are identifiable at the time of listing, serve as notice to such parties that the Agency may initiate CERCLA-financed remedial action.


The NCP at 40 CFR 300.425(b)(1) (55 FR 8845, March 8, 1990) limits the expenditure of Trust Fund monies for remedial actions to sites on the NPL. However, EPA may take enforcement actions under CERCLA or other applicable statutes against potential responsible parties regardless of whether the site is on the NPL, although, as a practical matter, the main focus of EPA's CERCLA enforcement actions has been and will continue to be on NPL sites. Similarly, in the case of CERCLA removal actions, EPA has the authority to act at any site, whether listed or not, that meets the criteria of the NCP at 40 CFR 300.425(b)(1) (55 FR 8845, March 8, 1990). Information on removals is available from the Superfund Hotline.

EPA's policy is to pursue cleanup of NPL sites using all the appropriate response and/or enforcement actions available to the Agency, including authorities other than CERCLA. The Agency will decide on a site-by-site basis whether to take enforcement or other action under CERCLA or other authorities, proceed directly with CERCLA-financed response actions and seek to recover response costs after cleanup, or do both. To the extent feasible, once sites are on the NPL, EPA will determine high-priority candidates for CERCLA-financed response action and/or enforcement action through both State and Federal initiatives. These determinations will take into account which approach is more likely to accomplish cleanup of the site most expeditiously while using CERCLA's limited resources as efficiently as possible.

The ranking of sites by HRS scores does not determine the sequence in which EPA funds remedial response actions, since the information collected to develop HRS scores is not sufficient in itself to determine either the extent of contamination or the appropriate response for a particular site. Moreover, the sites with the highest scores do not necessarily come to the Agency's attention first, so that addressing sites strictly on the basis of ranking would in some cases require stopping work at sites where it was already underway. In addition, certain sites, such as the White Chemical Corp. site, are based on other criteria. Thus, EPA relies on further, more detailed studies including the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) that typically follows listing.

The RI/FS determines the nature and extent of the threat presented by the contamination (40 CFR 300.430(a)(2) (55 FR 8846, March 8, 1990). It also takes into account the amount of contaminants in the environment, the risk to affected populations and environment, the cost to correct problems at the site, and the response actions that have been taken by potentially responsible parties or others. Decisions on the type and extent of action to be taken at these sites are made in accordance with the criteria contained in Subpart E of the NCP (55 FR 8839, March 8, 1990). After conducting these additional studies, EPA may conclude that it is not desirable to initiate a CERCLA remedial action at some sites on the NPL because of more pressing needs at other sites, or because a private party cleanup is already underway pursuant to an enforcement action. Given the limited resources available in the Trust Fund, the Agency must carefully balance the relative needs for response at the numerous sites it has studied. It is also possible that EPA will conclude after further analysis that the site does not warrant remedial action.

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III. Contents of This NPL Final Rule

The White Chemical Corp. (WCC) site, in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, is being added to the NPL on the basis of section 425(c)(3) of the NCP, 40 CFR 300.425(c)(3) (55 FR 8845, March 8, 1990). It was proposed to the NPL on May 9, 1991 (56 FR 21460). A description of the site and EPA's basis for listing it were included in that proposal.

The comment period ended on June 10, 1991 and one comment was received. In that comment, Mr. John Scagnelli, on behalf of AZS Corporation, asked that the docket be amended to reflect:

  1. That the bankruptcy court dismissed the WCC bankruptcy petition and removed WCC from bankruptcy protection;

  2. that EPA issued a unilateral order requiring WCC to vacate the site and suspend all business activities; and

  3. that EPA was granted exclusive access to the WCC site.

The commenter also reserved the right to supplement his comments as additional information becomes known.

EPA has placed Mr. Scagnelli's comments in the docket. However, as these comments have no effect on EPA's basis (section 425(c)(3) of the NCP) for listing the site, EPA has not otherwise responded to the comment except to update the narrative summary to include information provided by the commenter. EPA cannot change already existing documents, as the commenter requested.

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IV. Regulatory Impact Analysis

The costs of cleanup actions that may be taken at sites are not directly attributable to inclusion on the NPL, as explained below. Therefore, the Agency has determined that this rulemaking is not a "major" regulation under Executive Order 12291. EPA has conducted a preliminary analysis of the economic implications of today's final rule adding one new site to the NPL, and finds that the kinds of economic effects associated with this revision are generally similar to those identified in the regulatory impact analysis (RIA) prepared in 1982 for revisions to the NCP pursuant to section 105 of CERCLA (47 FR 31180, July 16, 1982) and the economic analysis prepared when amendments to the NCP were proposed (50 FR 5882, February 12, 1985). This rule was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review as required by Executive Order 12291.


EPA has determined that this final rulemaking is not a "major" regulation under Executive Order 12291 because inclusion of a site on the NPL does not itself impose any costs. It does not establish that EPA necessarily will undertake remedial action, nor does it require any action by a private party or determine its liability for site response costs. Costs that arise out of site responses result from site-by-site decisions about what actions to take, not directly from the act of listing itself. Nonetheless, it is useful to consider the costs associated with responding to the site included in this final rulemaking. The listing of a site on the NPL may be followed by a search for potentially responsible parties and a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) to determine if remedial actions will be undertaken at a site. The selection of a remedial alternative, and design and construction of that alternative, follow completion of the RI/FS, and operation and maintenance (O&M) activities may continue after construction has been completed.

EPA initially bears costs associated with responsible party searches. Responsible parties may enter into consent orders or agreements to conduct or pay the costs of the RI/FS, remedial design and construction, and O&M, or EPA and the States may share costs up front and subsequently bring an action for cost recovery.

The State's share of site cleanup costs for Fund-financed actions is governed by CERCLA section 104. For privately-owned sites, as well as at publicly-owned but not publicly-operated sites, EPA will pay for 100% of the costs of the RI/FS and remedial planning, and 90% of the costs of the remedial action, leaving 10% to the State. For publicly-operated sites, the State's share is at least 50% of all response costs at the site, including the RI/FS and remedial design and construction of the remedial action selected. After the remedy is built, costs fall into two categories:

In previous NPL rulemakings, the Agency estimated the costs associated with these activities (RI/FS, remedial design, remedial action, and O&M) on an average-per-site and total cost basis. EPA will continue with this approach, using the most recent (1988) cost estimates available; these estimates are presented below. However, costs for individual sites vary widely, depending on the amount, type, and extent of contamination. Additionally, EPA is unable to predict what portions of the total costs responsible parties will bear, since the distribution of costs depends on the extent of voluntary and negotiated response and the success of any cost-recovery actions.

Cost category Average total cost per site 1
RI/FS $1,300,000
Remedial design 1,500,000
Remedial action 25,000,000 2
Not present value of O&M 3 3,770,000 2
Source: Office of Program Management, Office of Superfund Remediation Technology Innovation, U.S. EPA, Washington, DC. 1 1988 U.S. Dollars.
2 Includes State cost-share.
3 Assumes cost of O&M over 30 years, $400,000 for the first year and 10% discount rate.

The WCC site is privately-owned. Therefore, costs to the State associated with today's final rule could arise from the required State cost-share of 10% of remedial actions and 10% of first-year O&M costs at privately-owned sites. The State will assume the cost for O&M after EPA's period of participation. Using the budget projections presented above, the cost to the State of undertaking Federal remedial planning and actions, but excluding O&M costs, would be approximately $2.5 million. State O&M costs cannot be accurately determined because EPA, as noted above, will share O&M costs for up to 10 years for restoration of ground water and surface water, and it is not known if this site will require this treatment and for how long. However, based on past experience, EPA believes a reasonable estimate is that it will share startup costs for up to 10 years at 25% of sites. As with the EPA share of costs, portions of the State share will be borne by responsible parties.

Proposing a hazardous waste site for the NPL does not itself cause firms responsible for the site to bear costs. Nonetheless, a listing may induce firms to clean up the sites voluntarily, or it may act as a potential trigger for subsequent enforcement or cost-recovery actions. Such actions may impose costs on firms, but the decisions to take such actions are discretionary and made on a case-by-case basis. Consequently, these effects cannot be precisely estimated. EPA does not believe that every site will be cleaned up by a responsible party. EPA cannot project at this time which firms or industry sectors will bear specific portions of the response costs, but the Agency considers: the volume and nature of the waste at the sites; the strength of the evidence linking the wastes at the site to the parties; the parties' ability to pay; and other factors when deciding whether and how to proceed against the parties.

Economy-wide effects of this final rule are aggregations of effects on firms and State and local governments. Although effects could be felt by some individual firms and the State, the total impact of this rule on output, prices, and employment is expected to be negligible at the national level, as was the case in the 1982 RIA.


The benefits associated with today's final rule placing the WCC site on the NPL are increased health and environmental protection as a result of increased public awareness of potential hazards. In addition to the potential for more Federally-financed remedial actions, expansion of the NPL can accelerate privately-financed, voluntary cleanup efforts. Listing sites as national priority targets also may give States increased support for funding responses at particular sites.

As a result of the additional CERCLA remedies, there will be lower human exposure to high-risk chemicals, and higher-quality surface water, ground water, soil, and air. These benefits are expected to be significant, although difficult to estimate before the RI/FS is completed at this site.

Associated with the costs are significant potential benefits and cost offsets. The distributional costs to firms of financing NPL remedies have corresponding "benefits" in that funds expended for a response generate employment, directly or indirectly (through purchased materials).

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V. Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 requires EPA to review the impacts of this action on small entities, or certify that the action will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. By small entities, the Act refers to small businesses, small government jurisdictions, and nonprofit organizations.

While this rule revises the NCP, it is not a typical regulatory change since the revision does not automatically impose costs. As stated above, adding sites to the NPL does not in itself require any action by any private party, nor does it determine the liability of any party for the cost of cleanup at the site. Further, no identifiable groups are affected as a whole. As a consequence, impacts on any group are hard to predict. A site's inclusion on the NPL could increase the likelihood of adverse impacts on responsible parties (in the form of cleanup costs), but at this time EPA cannot identify the potentially affected business nor estimate the number of small businesses that might also be affected.

The Agency does expect that CERCLA actions could significantly affect certain industries, and firms within industries, that have caused a proportionately high percentage of waste site problems. However, EPA does not expect the listing of this site to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses.

In any case, economic impacts would occur only through enforcement and cost-recovery actions, which EPA takes at its discretion on a site-by-site basis. EPA considers many factors when determining what enforcement actions to take, including not only the firm's contribution to the problem, but also its ability to pay.

The impacts (from cost recovery) on small governments and nonprofit organizations would be determined on a similar case-by-case basis.

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 300

Air pollution control, Chemicals, Hazardous materials, Intergovernmental relations, Natural resources, Oil pollution, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Superfund, Waste treatment and disposal, Water pollution control, Water supply.

Dated: September 18, 1991.

Don R. Clay,
Assistant Administrator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.


40 CFR part 300 is amended as follows:

1. The authority citation for part 300 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 42 U.S.C. 9601-9657; 33 U.S.C. 1321(c)(2); E.O. 11735, 38 FR 21243; E.O. 12580. 52 FR 2923.

Appendix B - [Amended]

2. The first table in appendix B of part 300 is amended by adding an entry in Group 22 to the end of the table to read as follows:

NPL rank EPA reg. State Site Name City/county
Group 22 (HRS scores 28.90 - 28.50, except for health-advisory sites) 1069


White Chemical Corp.


[FR Doc. 91-22965 Filed 9-24-91; 8:45 am]


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