Administrator Wheeler Kicks Off Southeast Swing with Clean Water Infrastructure Announcements, Jacksonville Superfund Site Deletion
JACKSONVILLE (October 26, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary Walker announced more than $326 million in water infrastructure loans for the State of Georgia and celebrated the recent deletion of the Fairfax Street Wood Treaters Superfund site from the National Priorities List (NPL).
“Under President Trump EPA has renewed its focus on the agency’s core mission to protect human health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “By supplying tens of millions of dollars in low interest loans for new water infrastructure and cleaning up Superfund sites, the agency is continuing its 50-year history of cleaning up the environment and helping communities become healthier.”
“EPA continues to make good on its commitment to clean up contaminated lands and return them to safe and productive use,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Through WIFIA and Superfund cleanups, EPA is investing in local communities, which will result in a cleaner environment, improved public health and build stronger economies.”
At the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center with DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, Administrator Wheeler announced a $265 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to DeKalb County, Georgia, for upgrades to its aging wastewater collection and treatment system. This project will help eliminate sanitary sewer overflows to improve water quality in the South River Watershed and better protect public health.
Administrator Wheeler also announced a $61.9 million WIFIA loan to the City of Atlanta to help finance the construction of the North Fork Peachtree Creek Tank and Pump Station. This WIFIA loan represents the first loan provided under an agreement with Atlanta that will commit $216.8 million in WIFIA assistance over the next five years to help improve wastewater and stormwater management and thereby benefit public health, water quality, and the environment.
Since the first WIFIA loan closed in April 2018, EPA has announced 36 WIFIA loans that are providing $6.7 billion in credit assistance to help finance $14.5 billion for water infrastructure while creating more than 31,000 jobs and saving ratepayers $3.6 billion.
WIFIA is providing financial support at a critical time as the federal government, EPA, and the water sector work together to help mitigate the public health and financial impacts of COVID-19. Since the beginning of March 2020, WIFIA has announced nineteen loans and updated five existing loans with lower interest rates. These recent efforts by EPA’s WIFIA program will save ratepayers over $1 billion.
Administrator Wheeler finished the day in Jacksonville visiting Fairfax Street Wood Treaters site to celebrate its recent deletion from the NPL with U.S. Congressman John Rutherford (FL-04). EPA has determined that the required cleanup is complete and no further remediation is necessary to protect human health and the environment. This site was one of the 27 Superfund sites fully or partially deleted in Fiscal Year 2020.
“From day one, the Trump Administration has shown its commitment to a clean and thriving environment,” said U.S. Congressman John Rutherford. “President Trump understands that burdensome, heavy-handed regulation stands in the way of the progress we’re seeing today that keeps our Florida neighborhoods clean and free of pollution. I’m proud to celebrate the deletion of this Superfund site which is now safe for our Northeast Florida community.”
EPA completed cleanup activities to address soil and sediment contamination at the Fairfax Street Wood Treaters site from March to October 2019. The cleanup included:
- Removal of 60,000 tons of contaminated soil and sediment.
- Transport of contaminated materials to an appropriate disposal facility.
- 60,000 tons of clean backfill and topsoil used to restore excavated areas.
- Remediation of the 12.5-acre wood treater property and 51 residential properties.
During the first term of the Trump Administration, EPA has deleted all or part of 82 sites from the NPL matching the total site deletions from the full two terms of the previous administration. While EPA encourages site reuse throughout the cleanup process, deletions from the NPL can help revitalize communities and promote economic growth by signaling to potential developers and financial institutions that cleanup is complete. Over the past several years, the EPA has placed special emphasis on deleting sites and portions of sites to demonstrate to communities that cleanup is complete.