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News Releases from Region 04

EPA Proposes Tennessee Site to National Priority List to Clean Up Contamination

Contact Information: 
Jason McDonald (
404-562-9203, 404-562-8400

ATLANTA (January 9, 2018) –  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the Southside Chattanooga Lead Site in Chattanooga, Tenn., along with nine other sites across the country to the Superfund Program’s National Priorities List (NPL). An additional four hazardous waste sites were formally added to the NPL.  

Superfund, as established by Congress in 1980, investigates and cleans up hazardous waste sites and converts them into community resources. EPA adds sites to the NPL when contamination threatens human health and the environment. Only sites added to the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term cleanup.

“Today’s action ensures the necessary resources are available for effective and safe revitalization of some of the most contaminated sites across the country,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Superfund clean-up continues to be a priority at EPA as we work intently to create a safer and healthier environment for all communities affected.”  

EPA adds sites to the NPL when contamination threatens human health and the environment. EPA deletes sites from the NPL once all response actions are complete and all cleanup goals have been achieved. EPA typically initiates Superfund involvement because states, tribes or citizens ask for the Agency’s help. The Agency may also find contamination during its own investigations.

The Southside Chattanooga Lead Site is composed of some residential properties, and other areas used by children, that have been impacted by lead-bearing foundry-related waste material. The impacted properties are located in the Alton Park, Cowart Place, Jefferson Heights, Richmond, and the Southside Gardens areas in the southwestern portion of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee where foundry waste material was used in past decades as fill or top soil. Lead levels above health-based benchmarks has been detected in soils at some properties where foundry waste material has been located.

The priority for proposing the Site is protecting children by identifying and cleaning up lead-contaminated soil at residential properties and other areas where children may be present. Lead exposure also poses a public health threat to pregnant women. 

EPA has conducted soil studies on 239 properties and identified approximately 68 that have elevated levels of lead in the soil and require further action such as excavation. Properties with the highest levels of lead were identified have been cleaned up by removing the material and replacing it with clean soil. Additional properties require testing or clean up.

Proposing the Site to the NPL allows EPA, the state, and the community to access significant technical and financial resources to address environmental and health risks.

EPA has coordinated closely with state and local officials throughout the process of testing soil, communicating with residents, and identifying health risks. 

When EPA cleans up a site or a portion of a site, the site is available for beneficial uses. More than 850 Superfund sites nationwide have some type of actual or planned reuse underway.

Cleanups increase tax revenue and create jobs during and after cleanup. EPA reviewed 458 Superfund sites supporting use or reuse activities. The Agency found at the end of fiscal year 2016 that these sites had approximately 4,700 businesses with 131,000 employees and annual sales of more than $34 billion.

Community partnerships are critical to Superfund site cleanups. EPA's goal is to work with community partners to ensure a collaborative and transparent cleanup process.

For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for the final and proposed sites:

For information about Superfund and the NPL:

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And on Twitter: @EPASoutheast

Superfund Task Force. In May 2017 Administrator Scott Pruitt established a task force to restore EPA's Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's core mission to protect health and the environment. Click here to learn more.