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News Releases from Region 06

EPA Celebrates 20 Years of Superfund Redevelopment; Recognizes Restored Site in Collinsville, Okla., for Reuse as Honeybee Habitat

07/31/2019
Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard (R6Press@epa.gov)
214 665-2200

DALLAS – (July 31, 2019) 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 by improving the quality of life, raising property values, and providing needed services to communities.

Officials from EPA and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) gathered to recognize stakeholders at the Tulsa Fuel and Manufacturing Superfund site in Collinsville, Oklahoma, with EPA’s Greenovations award. The award honors Superfund site partners in EPA Region 6 who have shown outstanding efforts in site reuse that emphasize sustainability, green remediation, and alternative and renewable energy use. The former zinc smelter was placed on the National Priorities List of contaminated sites in 1999, and following extensive cleanup and monitoring now hosts bee colonies for local honey companies. Officials from the also participated in the ceremony.

“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.”

“Today we celebrate the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative’s 20-year record of helping communities return contaminated properties to productive use, thereby greatly benefiting those local communities,” said Acting Regional Administrator David Gray. “Through the SRI, EPA will continue to support communities’ economic and social improvements.”

“ODEQ is incredibly proud of the work done at the former Tulsa Fuels and Manufacturing site,” said ODEQ Executive Director Scott Thompson. “The efforts of our staff and our partners have transformed this once-contaminated land into a green pasture that is home to honeybees and other wildlife. Successful Superfund projects such as this are vital to Oklahoma’s future.”

Cleanup included consolidating 186,000 cubic yards of smelter wastes and contaminated soil and sediment into a 10-acre capped containment cell. The restored cap was replanted with a mix of native grasses and clover, an ideal habitat for honeybees. Today, the Shadow Mountain Honey Company, in partnership with Ide’s Gary Avenue Gold Honey, uses the site to house about 30 hives—all rescued and relocated from places where the swarms presented a nuisance and would have otherwise been exterminated. The companies plan to use the site to relocate more swarms in the future, helping to sustain the area’s pollinator population.

During a ceremony at the site, EPA presented awards to James and Courtney Deming, owners of Shadow Mountain Honey Company; Jay Ide, owner of Ide’s Gary Avenue Gold Honey; the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality; Hal Cantwell and Michael Lea of the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality; and Bob Beauchamp, current landowner of the site. 

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.

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, 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. A solar array at the Continental Steel site in Kokomo, Indiana, provides enough energy to power 1,000 homes.

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.

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About EPA Region 6: https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-region-6-south-central  

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