EPA Announces Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding for Eagle Picher Superfund Site in Socorro, N.M.
DALLAS (March 22, 2022) – Today, officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the city of Socorro, N.M., announced funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allow the remedy for the Eagle Picher Superfund site to move forward after many years of delays. The funding is part of $1 billion investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to initiate cleanup and clear the backlog of 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites and accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country. Until this historic investment, many of these were part of a backlog of hazardous waste sites awaiting funding.
“The people of Socorro have waited too long to finally be rid of the contamination in their community. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is allowing EPA to prioritize sites like Eagle Picher after many years of under-funding,” said Regional Administrator Dr. Earthea Nance. “Cleaning up this site will bring the public health and environmental benefits the community has waited for and deserves.”
“This funding will result in significant progress toward cleaning up this Superfund site, improving our air, water and land,” said New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. “We are committed to working closely with federal, tribal and local partners to address legacy contamination in New Mexico communities.”
“This cleanup effort demonstrates what can be accomplished when parties collaborate to get results,” said New Mexico Environment Secretary James Kenney. “The groundwork that was laid out for this project made it a prime candidate for remediation once the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was passed. We are continuing to work with partners to address similar sites throughout New Mexico.”
“My office has been engaged with local stakeholders in Socorro and the NMED to create more urgency to clean up the Eagle Picher Superfund Site sooner rather than later. One of the reasons that I and almost all of our Congressional Delegation fought so hard to pass the transformative Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was so the EPA could finally address the backlog of Superfund cleanup projects like this one,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). “The Infrastructure Law is already investing in projects all over our state to restore the health of our land and water resources, rebuild our roads and bridges, modernize our energy and water infrastructure, and expand our high-speed internet capacity. I look forward to working with EPA Regional Administrator Nance, Mayor Bhasker, and the local community in Socorro to see this important cleanup work through all the way to completion so we can protect the health and safety of critical clean water resources.”
“To strengthen New Mexico’s economy, protect our environment, and build up our communities, I was proud to have helped send the bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Investment Act to President Biden’s desk this past November,” said Senator Ben Luján (D-N.M.). “Eagle Picher has housed workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps, acted as a site for manufacturing circuit boards, acted and as a landfill, and later as a battery manufacturing plant. Now, Eagle Picher is a high-priority Superfund site. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, NMED, and EPA, community members will have $19 million clean up the soil and water in the area.”
“The City of Socorro is extremely grateful for the bipartisan support we have received for the clean-up of the Eagle Picher superfund site. Our city and our citizens will benefit for years to come with the clean ground water that will protect our community,” said Mayor Ravi Bhasker.
The funding will allow EPA to implement the final cleanup plan, or remedy, for removing contaminated soil and construction debris, and installing a pump-and-treat system for contaminated groundwater associated with the Eagle Picher Carefree Battery site. The site’s history dates to the 1930s with various uses that left contamination including heavy metals and volatile organic compounds in soils and trichloroethylene and perchloroethene in groundwater. Details about the funding were discussed during an event today at the Socorro city hall.
Since 2000, with the exception of three years, EPA’s Superfund appropriation has been insufficient to support the initiation of all Superfund site construction projects ready to begin work. In 1980, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, known as Superfund, was passed. The novel law gave EPA the authority and funds to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up the most contaminated sites across the country. A tax on chemical and petroleum industries provided funds to the Superfund Trust fund for Superfund cleanups up until 1995. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law reinstates the chemical excise taxes and invests an additional $3.5 billion in environmental remediation at Superfund sites, making it one of the largest investments in American history to address the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation investment that will create millions of jobs modernizing our infrastructure, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st century.
Click here for more information about the Eagle Picher NPL site.
For more information and to see a list of the 49 sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects, please visit our website, "Superfund Sites with New Construction Projects to Receive Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding."
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