News Releases from Region 06
EPA adds West Texas site to National Priorities List to reduce environmental and public health risk
DALLAS – (July 31, 2017) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is adding an area contaminated by a groundwater plume to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) of the nation’s most contaminated sites.
“My goal as Administrator is to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the agency’s core mission. Today, we are adding sites to the Superfund National Priorities List to ensure they are cleaned up for the benefit of these communities,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, “When we clean up these sites, we make communities healthier places to live and clear the way for development and increased economic activity.”
“The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is pleased to continue to provide support to the EPA in this endeavor,” said Chairman Bryan W. Shaw, Ph.D., P.E. “We look forward to providing management assistance as the site moves through the clean-up process in this cooperative effort.”
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 seven sites to the NPL and proposed to add four other sites. EPA adds sites to the NPL when 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:
For information about Superfund and the NPL: http://www.epa.gov/superfund
The Superfund Task Force Recommendations can be viewed at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-recommendations
The Superfund program is a cornerstone of the work that the EPA performs for citizens and communities across the country. On July 25, 2017, Administrator Pruitt accepted recommendations from the task force established on May 22, 2017, to revitalize the Superfund program. “My goal as Administrator is to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the agency’s core mission”.
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. Work to prioritize and reinvigorate the program by the task force has been initiated and will be ongoing into the future.
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