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EPA Celebrates 20 Years of Superfund Redevelopment at former Blackburn & Union Site in Walpole, Mass.

08/01/2019
Contact Information: 
Emily Bender (bender.emily@epa.gov)
617-918-1037

WALPOLE – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative, launched in 1999 with the goal of returning formerly contaminated lands to long-term sustainable and productive reuse for communities across the country. Returning Superfund sites back to productive use has resulted in dramatic changes in communities like Walpole.

"Over the past 20 years, the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative has proven that incorporating reuse early in the process removes barriers to redevelopment and ensures that cleanup plans promote future economic and recreational opportunities," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "Thanks to SRI, hundreds of formerly contaminated sites have been transformed into hubs of economic, recreational, or residential activity. Promoting redevelopment and community revitalization is a top priority of this Administration and one of the key goals of the Agency's Superfund Task Force."

"EPA is excited to celebrate 20 years of Superfund re-development efforts in New England," said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "In Walpole, we are proud of the recent municipal redevelopment that was just completed in 2018. This site has become a significant resource for the town."

Before the agency's Redevelopment Initiative, sites were cleaned up but not necessarily put back into productive use. By considering reuse early in the site cleanup process, the Redevelopment Initiative helps ensure that desired future uses are compatible with site cleanup remedies and removes barriers that could keep areas vacant or underused. 

Depending on site conditions and community preferences, sites can be reused for a multitude of purposes, including commercial, recreational, ecological and residential uses. The Redevelopment Initiative has helped communities turn former lumberyards into parks, landfills into solar farms, former smelters into health clinics and gravel pits into baseball fields. EPA provides communities with points of contact, as well as case studies and best practices to help bring these projects to fruition.

In Walpole, the Blackburn & Union Privileges Superfund Site along the Neponset River in Walpole was formerly used for a wide variety of industrial manufacturing through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It left behind contamination in the form of inorganic chemicals, such as asbestos, lead, arsenic and nickel, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs).

EPA's Superfund Program required the Responsible Parties to clean up the site. A large portion of the cleanup activity has happened over the last few years and has been closely coordinated and negotiated with the Town of Walpole. The Town acquired the properties by tax title and secured funding to redevelop the properties into a new Police Station and Senior Center with additional parking across the street. EPA awarded the Town with a National Superfund Re-Use award for the significant redevelopment efforts. The site is now a terrific resource for the town.

"The Town of Walpole was extremely fortunate to be able to partner with the EPA and the Responsible Parties to clean up a blighted section of land along South St. in Walpole," said Walpole Town Manager Jim Johnson. "This project is a great example of what can be accomplished when all parties come together to clean up a superfund site.  I am truly grateful for the efforts made by the EPA to assist Walpole throughout the cleanup process and I am proud to say that the Town now has a new Police Headquarters and Council on Aging located on South St. in Walpole."

Overall, approximately 1,000 Superfund sites are in reuse today--more than half the number of sites on Superfund's National Priorities List. EPA has data on over 8,600 businesses at 529 of these sites. In fiscal year 2018 alone, these businesses generated $52.4 billion in sales, which is more than four times the amount EPA has spent at these sites. These businesses employed more than 195,000 people who earned a combined income of $13 billion. Over the last 7 years, these businesses generated at least $263 billion in sales.

Superfund redevelopment can also lead to energy independence. Today, 59 Superfund sites are home to alternative energy facilities. As of September 2018, these facilities provided enough energy to power about 95,000 homes. Wind, solar and landfill gas facilities make up about 92 percent of these projects. For example, 16-megawatt solar arrays at the Iron Horse Park site in Massachusetts allows the municapity Town of Billerica to benefit from significant long-term energy cost savings. A 7-megawatt solar farm at the Brick Township Landfill site in New Jersey powers all municipal buildings and community park facilities in the township.

Over the last few years, as part of the Superfund Task Force work, EPA developed a nationwide list of Superfund National Priorities List sites with the greatest expected redevelopment potential. The list helps promote a renewed focus on accelerating work and progress at all Superfund sites while working to successfully return sites to productive use after cleanup is completed.

Today's commemoration kicks off a series of events throughout the next 12 months recognizing Superfund's achievements in revitalizing communities and protecting human health and the environment.

As part of the commemoration, EPA is releasing SRI's 20th Anniversary Report. https://www.epa.gov/superfund-redevelopment-initiative/epa-celebrates-20-years-superfund-redevelopment

For more information about EPA's Superfund Task Force, please visit https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force

For more information about Superfund redevelopment, please visit the https://www.epa.gov/superfund-redevelopment-initiative

For more information on regional redevelopment benefits, see the 2018 Redevelopment Beneficial Effects reports for each of our regional offices at https://www.epa.gov/superfund-redevelopment-initiative/redevelopment-economics-superfund-sites#regional