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EPA Making Strides in Cleaning Up the Nation’s Most Contaminated Sites

EPA completed deletion activities at seven sites from Superfund NPL list in 2017, including the Shpack Landfill Superfund site in Massachusetts

01/02/2018
Contact Information: 
Emily Bender (bender.emily@epa.gov)
617-918-1037

BOSTON - Due to the hard work of staff to implement Administrator Pruitt's initiatives to make strides in cleaning up the nation's most contaminated toxic land sites, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing significant improvement in 2017 – through the deletion of all or parts of seven Superfund sites from the National Priorities List (NPL). This is more than triple the number of sites removed from the list in 2016.

"We have made it a priority to get these sites cleaned up faster and in the right way, said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "By creating a streamlined task force and making major remedy decisions that hold potentially responsible parties accountable for clean up, the Superfund program is carrying out the Agency's mission of protecting human health and the environment more every day."

In 2016, EPA had deletion activities at two NPL sites, one full site and portions of another. But in 2017, under the leadership of Administrator Pruitt, EPA has deleted three entire sites and portions of four others. This increase in deletions reflects Administrator Pruitt's commitment to accelerating progress, reducing risks at Superfund sites and returning sites to productive use.

These deletions come on the heels of Administrator Pruitt's list of 21 sites that have been targeted for immediate and intense attention – a direct response to the Superfund Task Force Recommendations issued this summer.

The Shpack Landfill Superfund site in Attleboro and Norton, Mass. is one of the Superfund sites that has been deleted. EPA proposed this action and held a public comment period on the proposed deletion, which ended Aug. 7, 2017. The final deletion of the Shpack Landfill from the NPL became effective on Sept. 5, 2017.

The Shpack Landfill operated as a private landfill from 1946 to 1965. It received industrial and domestic wastes, with the major use of the landfill occurring between 1951 and 1965. A court order closed the landfill. In 1978, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was contacted by a citizen who detected elevated radiation levels at the site. The NRC investigated and confirmed the presence of radioactivity above natural background levels. The primary contaminants found were radium-226, uranium-238 and uranium-235.

It is not known exactly when these radioactive materials were deposited, but an NRC investigation determined that the former M&C Nuclear, Inc., of Attleboro (which merged with Texas Instruments, Inc., in 1959) had used the landfill for the disposal of trash and other materials, including zirconium ashes, associated with nuclear fuel operations at the facility from 1957 to 1965. In 1980, the site was added to the Department of Energy's Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) to address the legacy of the nation's early atomic energy programs. Responsibility of FUSRAP was later transferred to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Cleanup of the site was implemented in two parts, first with the USACE completing the FUSRAP remedial action to address the radiological contamination in 2011, followed by the CERCLA or Superfund remedial action to address non-radiological contamination. The Superfund cleanup was completed in 2013. The entire cleanup included:

  • Excavation and off-site disposal of approximately 83,400 cubic yards of soil and sediment.
  • Impacted wetlands were restored or replicated and clean fill was used to backfill and bring open areas up to grade, as necessary.
  • A public water supply line was extended to within 500 feet of the site.
  • Implementation of institutional controls to restrict future use of the property and groundwater.

EPA expects that no further Superfund response is needed at this Site to protect human health and the environment. Following standard procedure for completed cleanup work under Superfund, EPA will continue to conduct reviews of the Site every five years, starting in 2018, to ensure that human health and the environment remain protected. EPA may initiate further action to ensure continued protectiveness at a deleted site if new information becomes available that indicates it is appropriate. The first Statutory Five-Year Review Report will be completed prior to June 12, 2018.

The NPL is one focus area of the Superfund Task Force Recommendations to improve and revitalize the Superfund program. Work to prioritize and reinvigorate the Superfund program is underway and will continue into 2018.

The Shpack Landfill Superfund Site webpage can be viewed at https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0100655

The Superfund Task Force Recommendations can be viewed at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-recommendations

Additional information about EPA's NPL deletions can be viewed at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-national-priorities-list-deletion

To search for more information about these sites, and other sites deleted from the NPL, please visit https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-national-priorities-list-npl-deletion-search

Superfund Task Force. In May 2017 Administrator Scott Pruitt established a task force to restore EPA's Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's core mission to protect health and the environment. Click here to learn more.