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EPA Celebrates Progress at Centredale Manor Superfund Site in Rhode Island as Superfund Task Force Final Report is Issued

Superfund Task Force Issues Final Report and Announces Plans to Continue Program Improvements Moving Forward

09/09/2019
Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)
617-918-1017

NORTH PROVIDENCE -- Today in Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the completion of the Superfund Task Force and issued the Task Force's final report outlining significant accomplishments over the past two years at Superfund sites across the country. Simultaneously, EPA's New England Regional Administrator, Dennis Deziel, celebrated significant progress on efforts to address contamination at the Centredale Manor Restoration Project Superfund Site, located in Johnston and North Providence, Rhode Island. The Centredale Manor site was an initial focus of Superfund Task Force intensive efforts.

The Administrator's announcement, made from the Southside Chattanooga Superfund Site, included plans for integrating the work of the Task Force into EPA's ongoing cleanup work moving forward. "Thanks to the hard work of EPA career officials, the Superfund Task Force has strengthened the program in numerous ways, from accelerating cleanups to promoting redevelopment to improving community engagement," said Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "The recommendations generated by the Task Force and applied by the Superfund program have directly improved the health and economic opportunity of thousands of people living near Superfund sites. We are taking concrete steps to ensure that the work of the Task Force continues to enhance the Superfund program moving forward."

"We believe that placing the Centredale Manor Restoration Project Superfund Site on the Superfund Task Force's Special Emphasis List was a catalyst for the actions and momentum now being celebrated here," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "With litigation behind us, the $100-million remedy is now well underway and substantial progress is evident. EPA looks forward to continuing to work with our partners and with community members to see this work to completion."

Centredale Manor Background
The Centredale Manor Restoration Project Superfund Site consists of a 9-acre source area and 1.5 miles of the Woonasquatucket River, including Lyman Mill and Allendale Ponds and its floodplain. The area is contaminated with dioxin and other contaminants from chemical production and drum reconditioning that took place on site from the 1940s to the 1970s. Following a thorough investigation and analysis and with public input, EPA decided on a remedy for addressing contamination at the Site in September 2012. In December 2017, EPA identified the site as a targeted site for immediate and intense action.

Following years of litigation, the United States, Rhode Island, and Emhart Industries, Inc. and Black and Decker Inc. (collectively "Emhart") reached a mediated settlement agreement in July 2018. Emhart agreed to perform the 2012 ROD pursuant to a Consent Decree, which was entered by the District Court for the District of Rhode Island on April 8, 2019. Emhart will clean up the site in phases, from upstream to downstream, and will construct a permanent cap in the source area and excavate and remove contaminated floodplain soil and sediment from the river. The entire project is expected to take 5-6 years and will be performed under EPA and RIDEM oversight. >Emhart began the remedial design of the remedy in 2018, upon lodging of the Consent Decree, and has been conducting several pre-design investigations starting with the source area. This past summer, EPA proposed minor modifications to the cleanup plan in a document called an "Explanation of Significant Differences" (ESD), which had a 30-day public review and comment period. The final ESD, if approved, will allow Emhart to proceed more quickly with the actual construction of the cleanup.

Superfund Task Force Background
Commissioned in May 2017 to provide recommendations on how EPA could streamline and improve the Superfund Program, the Task Force issued its initial report in July 2017 with 42 recommendations in five goal areas. Based on the collective experience of EPA's career staff and others, the recommendations offered important suggestions for improving the program and expediting site cleanups through remediation and back to productive use. By implementing the recommendations over the past two years, the Task Force has helped to provide certainty to communities, states, tribes and developers that the nation's most hazardous sites will be cleaned up as quickly and safely as possible.

The important work of the Task Force will continue under the Superfund Program and at all sites on the National Priorities List (NPL). The agency will continue to prioritize expediting cleanups to protect people's health and the environment. Moving forward, the agency plans to:

  • Improve accountability and ensure the work continues in the future by tracking and reporting on our progress with a new set of performance measures: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-metrics.
  • Conduct a strategic and comprehensive portfolio review of every site remaining on the NPL to enable EPA to better utilize the Task Force's tools and lessons learned in advancing cleanups across the country.
  • Continue to identify and implement new opportunities and approaches to improve the program's performance and effectiveness.

Highlights of the Superfund Task Force Accomplishments

Goal 1: Expediting Cleanup and Remediation - The Task Force developed several tools to expedite cleanup and remediation at sites including the Administrator's Emphasis List, a list of sites targeted for the administrator's immediate and intense attention. The agency will continue using the Emphasis List to focus on sites needing immediate and intense attention and will update the list quarterly. Substantial progress has been made at sites on this list.

Goal 2: Re-Invigorating Responsible Party Cleanup and Reuse - The Task Force developed new enforcement guidance for EPA's regional offices to accelerate remedial design starts at potentially responsible party (PRP)-lead Superfund sites. Moving forward, the guidance's recommended settlement strategy will be considered by EPA regions as a matter of national practice. This guidance has accelerated work at several sites.

Goal 3: Encouraging Private Investment - The Task Force recognized that EPA should support, where appropriate, innovative approaches to promote third-party investment in cleanup and reuse of contaminated properties consistent with statutory authorities. By the end of 2019, EPA plans to issue a memorandum to EPA regional offices to promote this approach where appropriate and in the interest of the Superfund Program.

Goal 4: Promoting Redevelopment and Community Revitalization - The Task Force worked to increase the number of NPL sites that are returned to communities for redevelopment through focused management attention and improved program practices. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, EPA achieved the goal sitewide ready for anticipated use at 51 sites, the highest total since FY 2013. EPA will continue to post specific information about sites available for redevelopment prominently on the Superfund Redevelopment website for stakeholders, developers, and businesses seeking information.

Goal 5: Engaging Partners and Stakeholders - The Task Force initiated a number of ongoing outreach activities to engage communities near Superfund sites, for example:

  • Partnership and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy: EPA developed and released a "Partnership and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy"(https://semspub.epa.gov/work/HQ/100000860.pdf) to strengthen EPA partnerships and increase public participation and transparency at Superfund sites across the country.
  • Risk Communication Strategy: The agency developed a plan (https://semspub.epa.gov/work/HQ/199586.pdf) to improve risk communication and community involvement practices during the long-term stewardship phase of Superfund site remediation. Lessons learned from implementing this plan will be applied across the life-cycle of the Superfund process.

For more information

EPA's information on past and ongoing efforts to clean up the Centredale Manor Restoration Project Superfund Site, including the full administrative record: www.epa.gov/superfund/centredale .

EPA's Superfund Task Force and the final Superfund Task Force Report: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-recommendations-and-accomplishments

A storyboard highlighting Superfund Task Force success stories from across the country: https://epa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=21708909e0164750b20b351e2d931092