EPA Takes Action on Public Health Risks by Proposing the Southeast Hennepin Area Groundwater and Vapor Site in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the Superfund National Priorities List
CHICAGO (Sept. 8, 2021) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed adding 13 sites nationwide, including the Southeast Hennepin Area Groundwater and Vapor site in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to the National Priorities List. The NPL is the list of hazardous waste sites in the United States eligible for remedial cleanup action financed under the federal Superfund program.
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.”
The Southeast Hennepin Area Groundwater and Vapor site in Minneapolis consists of a vapor plume contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), primarily trichloroethylene (TCE), from several known and unknown sources. The Southeast Hennepin Area Groundwater and Vapor site was identified when a groundwater and vapor plume was found to be migrating towards the General Mills/Henkel Corp. NPL site. The surrounding area has been developed into commercial and industrial operations since the 1930s. Former and current operations include foundry and outdoor motor manufacturing, metal finishing and dry-cleaning operations that may have used VOCs. A gravel pit also operated in the northern portion of the site where suspected disposal occurred until approximately 1977. Residential properties are located along the southern portion of the site and the area south of Hennepin Avenue is predominantly residential homes.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has managed site contamination for several years under a variety of state programs, both voluntary and enforcement driven, but has been unable to effectuate a comprehensive investigation and clean-up. Several facilities in the study are in the state’s voluntary cleanup program. The state of Minnesota referred the site to the EPA due to the potential impacts, size, scope and complexity of the site and the need for further investigation and clean-up.
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