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U.S. EPA proposes to add Orange County North Basin to Superfund’s National Priorities List

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Michele Huitric (

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is adding four and proposing to add 10 hazardous waste sites to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL). The Orange County North Basin has been proposed for addition to the NPL.

“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.”  

The Orange County North Basin includes parts of Fullerton, Anaheim, and Placentia and is part of the larger Orange County Groundwater Basin. Seventy percent of the water served in Orange County is from groundwater, making the basin a critical water resource for 2.4 million residents in 22 cities. The groundwater plume is contaminated with chlorinated solvents and other contaminants covering over five square miles. All drinking water currently served by water purveyors meets federal and state drinking water standards.

EPA received a letter from the State of California on June 28, 2017, in support of placing this site on the NPL.

“Groundwater is a vital source of drinking water for the residents and economy of Orange County,” said Denis Bilodeau, president of the Orange County Water District. “By adding this site to the NPL and addressing the contamination, we will ensure a clean and resilient drinking water source for generations to come.”

Superfund, which Congress established in 1980, investigates and cleans up hazardous waste sites and converts them into community resources. The Superfund law directs EPA to update the NPL annually. Only sites added to the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term cleanup.

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. EPA may also find contamination during its own investigations.

Superfund addresses a variety of sites. While many Superfund sites were contaminated decades ago, at least six of the sites EPA is adding or proposing today were in operation within the last 15 years. These sites have contamination from a variety of sources, including manufacturing, electroplating and metal finishing.

Community partnerships are critical to Superfund site cleanups. EPA's goal is to work with community partners at every site by establishing and utilizing a process to explore future uses before the cleanup remedy is selected. This gives EPA the best chance of ensuring that sites are cleaned up in a manner that is consistent with a site’s anticipated future use.  

The NPL is one focus area of the Superfund Task Force Recommendations that were announced in July 2017 to improve and revitalize the Superfund program.

The task force’s recommendations focused on five overarching goals: expediting cleanup and remediation, reinvigorating cleanup and reuse efforts by potentially responsible parties, encouraging private investment to facilitate cleanup and reuse, promoting redevelopment and community revitalization and engaging with partners and stakeholders.

The Superfund Task Force Recommendations can be viewed at:

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

For information about Superfund and the NPL: