Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Cleanup Project in Illinois
EPA announces start of new cleanup projects at 22 Superfund sites, along with 100 other ongoing cleanups, thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
WASHINGTON (Feb. 10, 2023) - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the second wave of approximately $1 billion in funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to start new cleanup projects at 22 Superfund sites, including the Ottawa Radiation Areas site in LaSalle County, Illinois, and expedite over 100 other ongoing cleanups across the country.
Thousands of contaminated sites exist nationally due to hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open, or otherwise improperly managed, including in manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills, and mining sites. Superfund cleanups help transform contaminated properties and create jobs in overburdened communities, while repurposing these sites for a wide range of uses, including public parks, retail businesses, office space, residences, warehouses, and solar power generation. In addition, these sites can support natural areas, parks, and recreation facilities, providing greenspace and safe places for families to play outside.
“Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, we are moving faster than ever before to progress clean up at contaminated sites – from manufacturing facilities to landfills – in communities across the country,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “But our work is not yet finished – we’re continuing to build on this momentum to ensure that communities living near many of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination finally get the investments and protections they deserve.”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering results for communities burdened by legacy contamination,” said Regional Administrator Debra Shore. “This funding will accelerate progress at the Ottawa Radiation site and help ensure a healthier environment for the people of LaSalle County.”
“Thanks to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress appropriated the Environmental Protection Agency $1 billion in federal funding for more than 100 ongoing cleanups and to start cleanup at 22 Superfund sites nationwide, including the prolific ‘Radium Girls’ site in Ottawa, Illinois,” said Sen. Dick Durbin. “With this funding, we can continue to prioritize public health and the environment, protect local communities, and make good on long overdue environmental justice promises.”
“I’m proud to see the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is continuing to support critical projects throughout Illinois, and I’m pleased this Superfund site in Ottawa will benefit,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth. “Eliminating contaminated sites is an important part of protecting the health of children and families, and it is also a necessary part of helping spur development, job creation and economic growth for affected communities. I’ll keep working to help ensure that all Illinoisans can breathe clean air and live in a safe environment without fear of toxins and pollution.”
“Ottawa has been threatened by the public health and environmental effects of radium poisoning for far too long,” said Rep. Lauren Underwood. “Over a century after the Radium Girls began working in Ottawa, I’m proud to see this new funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law coming to the 14th District, where it will help ensure our community is clean and safe for current and future residents to call home.”
“Illinois EPA is pleased to see these funds being directed to the Ottawa Radiation Site to address the historic contamination,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim. “We will continue to work with U.S. EPA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to address environmental concerns at this and other Superfund sites in Illinois.”
The Ottawa Radiation Areas site, located in LaSalle County, Illinois, consists of 16 areas contaminated by radioactive materials. The 16 areas are scattered throughout the city of Ottawa as well as locations outside the city. EPA added the areas to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List because they are contaminated by the same wastes, involve the same potentially responsible parties and require similar cleanups. The contamination originated from businesses that used radium-based paint to produce luminous dials for clocks and watches from 1918 to 1937. Following actions to protect human health and the environment in the short term, EPA developed long-term remedies for the site. To date, EPA has completed cleanup at 15 of the 16 contaminated areas.
The $1 billion investment announced today is the second wave of funding from the $3.5 billion allocated for Superfund cleanup work in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With the first wave of funding announced in December 2021, EPA deployed more than $1 billion for cleanup activities at more than 100 Superfund National Priorities List sites across the country. Thanks to this historic funding, EPA started 81 new cleanup projects in 2022, including projects at 44 sites previously on the backlog. By starting four times as many construction projects as the year before, EPA is aggressively bringing more sites across the country closer to finishing cleanup. For example, in Evansville, Indiana, EPA continued to reduce exposures to lead and arsenic in soil in the neighborhoods of the Jacobsville Neighborhood Contamination site by starting the next phase of cleaning up contaminated residential soils.
In addition to funding cleanup construction work, this investment is enabling EPA to increase funding for and accelerate essential work needed to prepare sites for construction and ensure that communities are meaningfully involved in the cleanup process. In 2022, EPA more than doubled its spending for Superfund pre-construction activities like remedial investigations, feasibility studies, remedial designs, and community involvement.
EPA is committed to carrying out this work in line with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative by advancing environmental justice and incorporating equity considerations into all aspects of the Superfund cleanup process. This will help ensure that historic and ongoing impacts of contamination on overburdened communities are fully considered and addressed. Out of the 22 sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects, 60% are in communities with the potential for environmental justice concerns based on data from EJSCREEN, an environmental justice mapping and screening tool that provides EPA with a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic socioeconomic indicators.
In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, known as Superfund. The law gave EPA the authority and funds to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up the most contaminated sites across the country. When no viable responsible party is found or cannot afford the cleanup, EPA steps in to address risks to human health and the environment using funds appropriated by Congress, like the funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
For more information on the Ottawa Radiation Areas site, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/ottawa-radiation
To see highlights from the first year of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding at Superfund sites, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/infrastructure/cleaning-superfund-sites-highlights-bipartisan-infrastructure-law-funding
For more information about EPA’s Superfund program, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund