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News Releases from Region 06

EPA Proposes to Add West Texas Site to National Priorities List to Reduce Risk to Public Health and Environment

Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard (R6Press@epa.gov)
214 665-2200

DALLAS – (Sept. 8, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to add a contaminated groundwater plume in Winkler Co., Texas, to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) of the nation’s most contaminated sites.

“Drinking water is precious in Texas, and protecting its sources is a vital part of EPA’s mission,” said Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Proposing this site to the NPL is the first step in cleaning up the contamination.”

The site, near Highway 18 in Kermit, Texas, west of Odessa, consists of a plume of groundwater contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that released into the Santa Rosa Aquifer. Currently, seven of the city of Kermit’s nine wells contain either trichloroethene (TCE) or tetrachloroethene (PCE). Because two of the wells contain PCE above health-based limits, the Kermit Public Water Supply system treats and blends water prior to distribution to ensure it meets drinking water standards. The source of contamination is not known.

Nationwide, EPA added 10 sites to the NPL and proposed to add eight other. EPA adds sites to the NPL when mismanagement of contamination threatens public health and the environment. EPA typically initiates Superfund involvement at a site because states, tribes or citizens ask for the agency’s help. The agency may also find contamination during its own investigations.

These sites can threaten the health of entire communities with short-term or long-term risks. Some groups of people, such as children, pregnant women and the elderly, may be at particular risk. Ecosystems at Superfund sites can be harmed when contaminants accumulate in plants and animals, reducing survival and growth rates, altering the composition of species in an area, seriously damaging or destroying the ecosystem, and rendering fish, shellfish, game and plants inedible. Also, activities at some sites have resulted in destruction of vegetation and topsoil, increasing risks of flooding and storm damage.

Superfund cleanups benefit the health of those who live on or near Superfund sites. Academic research has shown these cleanups reduce birth defects close to a site by as much as 25 percent. When EPA cleans up a site or a portion of a site, it frequently returns to beneficial uses. More than 850 Superfund sites nationwide have some type of actual or planned reuse underway. Cleanups also increase tax revenue and create jobs during and after cleanup. EPA reviewed 454 Superfund sites supporting use or reuse activities and found that these sites had approximately 3,900 businesses with 108,000 employees and annual sales of more than $29 billion. 

Community partnerships are critical to Superfund site cleanups. EPA's goal is to work with community partners at every site by establishing an effective process to fully explore future uses before the cleanup remedy’s selection. This approach gives EPA the best chance of ensuring remedies are consistent with a site’s likely future use.   

For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for the final and proposed sites: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/current-npl-updates-new-proposed-npl-sites-and-new-npl-sites

For information about Superfund and the NPL: http://www.epa.gov/superfund

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