EPA Takes Action to Address Risks to Public Health by Proposing to Add Meeker Avenue Plume, Brooklyn, New York to the National Priorities List
NEW YORK – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is adding four sites to the National Priorities List (NPL) where releases of contamination pose significant human health and environmental risks. EPA is also proposing to add another 13 sites including Meeker Avenue Plume, Brooklyn, New York and is withdrawing a previously proposed site, following the Agency’s science-based determination that placing the site on the NPL is not needed to protect human health and the environment.
With this Superfund NPL update, the Biden-Harris Administration is demonstrating a commitment to updating the NPL twice a year. By pledging to add sites more regularly to the NPL, EPA is taking action to protect the health of communities across the country while cleaning up and returning blighted properties to safe and productive reuse in areas where environmental cleanup and jobs are needed most.
“EPA recognizes that no community deserves to have contaminated sites near where they live, work, pray, and go to school. By adding sites to the Superfund NPL, we are helping to ensure that more communities living near the nation’s most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination have the protection they deserve,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to increasing funding and working with Congress on the bipartisan infrastructure deal to provide the Superfund Program with the resources it needs to address a backlog of sites awaiting cleanup, as well as additional sites in need of cleanup.”
EPA is proposing to list this site after close consultation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), which discovered a plume at the Meeker Avenue site during the investigation and remediation of an adjacent petroleum groundwater contamination location. This area of Brooklyn housed historical petroleum refining and storage operations along the banks of Newtown Creek. Chlorinated volatile organic compounds (CVOCs) were found in subsurface soil and groundwater outside of the historic petroleum spill area, prompting NYSDEC to conduct several environmental investigations.
NYSDEC’s previous and ongoing work at this site includes investigations that found contaminants of CVOCs, including tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), in the subsurface and indoor air of occupied residential and commercial structures above the groundwater contaminant plume. Indoor air contamination from vapor intrusion presents a potential health risk. NYSDEC has taken measures to mitigate exposures by installing sub-slab depressurization systems, which direct hazardous vapors in the soil to the exterior of the building. NYSDEC continues to conduct additional investigations to identify sources of contamination and continues to offer sub-slab and indoor air sampling to property owners within the boundary of the Meeker Avenue site. The State of New York supports the inclusion of the site on the Superfund NPL.
The NPL includes the nation’s most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination. The list serves as the basis for prioritizing EPA Superfund cleanup funding and enforcement actions. Only releases at sites included on the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term, permanent cleanup.
EPA proposes sites to the NPL based on a scientific determination of risks to people and the environment, consistent with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan.
Superfund cleanups provide health and economic benefits to communities. The program is credited for significant reductions in both birth defects and blood-lead levels among children living near sites, and research has shown residential property values increase up to 24 percent within three miles of sites after cleanup.
Further, thanks to Superfund cleanups, communities are now using previously blighted properties for a wide range of purposes, including retail businesses, office space, public parks, residences, warehouses, and solar power generation. As of 2020, EPA has collected economic data on 632 Superfund sites, finding 9,900 businesses in operation, 227,000 people employed, $16.3 billion in employee-earned income, and $63.3 billion in business-generated sales.
For information about Superfund and the NPL, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund
For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for NPL and proposed sites, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/current-npl-updates-new-proposed-npl-sites-and-new-npl-sites
For site background, visit: www.epa.gov/superfund/Meeker-Avenue-Plume