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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Updates the National Priorities List to Clean Up Contamination and Protect Communities; Adds Former Metals Plant in Cortlandt, N.Y.

05/13/2019
Contact Information: 
Elias Rodriguez (rodriguez.elias@epa.gov)
212) 637-3664

NEW YORK - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is adding seven sites to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) where releases of contamination pose human health and environmental risks. The Magna Metals site in Cortlandt Manor, New York is one of the sites added to the NPL. EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez made the announcement in the community today.

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.

“By adding these sites to the National Priorities List, we are taking action to clean up some of the nation’s most contaminated sites, protect the health of the local communities, and return the sites to safe and productive reuse,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Our commitment to these communities is that sites on the National Priorities List will be a true national priority. We’ve elevated the Superfund program to a top priority, and in Fiscal Year 2018, EPA deleted all or part of 22 sites from the NPL, the largest number of deletions in one year since Fiscal Year 2005.”

“Adding Magna Metals to the Superfund list will allow us to proceed with the long-term cleanup of this site, which has been a concern for this community for some time,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “Our strong cooperative partnership with New York State, Westchester County and the town of Cortlandt continues as we begin a detailed investigation of the contamination and begin looking for feasible ways to address it.”

“Even as we focus on preserving the environment and combating further damage from climate change, we must do all we can to recover from prior damage to our vital natural resources. My constituents in Cortlandt Manor and I welcome the addition of the Magna Metals site to the EPA’s National Priorities List to begin the Superfund cleanup process more than 20 years after the site assessment,” said Congresswoman Lowey (NY-17). “I

look forward to working with the EPA and local stakeholders to clean up the Magna Metals site and redevelop it to the benefit of our public health, safety, and economy.”

“I am pleased that the Magna Metals site in Cortlandt Manor is finally targeted to be cleaned up,” said Senator Pete Harckham, 40th Senate District. “Thank you to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for adding it to the Superfund list. The health and economic benefits of this site cleanup will be positive for the entire community.”

"This has been a NYS DEC and now a federal EPA clean-up site for the last forty years. We are pleased that the clean-up/reclamation project will finally begin and be resolved for our community,” said Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi.

Magna Metals conducted metal plating, polishing, and lacquering operations at the site from 1955 to 1979. During operations, iron, lead, copper, nickel, zinc chlorides, cyanides, and sulfates were discharged to a series of leaching pits. As a result, the soil, groundwater, a nearby stream and sediment are contaminated with metals and volatile organic compounds.

The former Magna Metals plant was demolished in 2013. Buildings on the property are currently being used for offices, a laboratory, and warehousing. Some of the homes in the surrounding area, which is primarily residential, have contaminated soil on their property immediately adjacent to the brook, and are located near contaminated sediment. Affected residents have been provided with soil sample results and advised on how to reduce potential exposures in the short-term. Furnace Brook is the main surface water body that contains contaminated sediment, including approximately 1.5 miles of freshwater wetland.

The state of New York investigated the contamination, collected samples and conducted studies, which resulted in immediate steps to mitigate risks from potential exposure. Those steps included demolishing the former plant and installing a system to vent vapors away from the occupied office and warehouse building at the facility.

After receiving a letter from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation supporting the inclusion of Magna Metals site on the Superfund list, the EPA has determined that a listing offers the best course of action to protect human health and clean up the contamination. The EPA took public comment and considered public input before finalizing the decision.

While EPA may find contamination during its own investigations, EPA typically initiates Superfund involvement because states, tribes or citizens ask for the agency’s help.

Community partnerships are critical to Superfund site cleanups. EPA’s goal is to involve community partners in the cleanup process at every site, including exploring future site uses, thereby giving EPA the best chance of transforming the site into a productive community resource.

Superfund cleanups provide health and economic benefits to communities. The program is credited for significant reductions in birth defects and blood-lead levels among children living near sites, and research has shown residential property values increase up to 24% within 3 miles of sites after cleanup.

Redeveloped Superfund sites can generate a great deal of economic activity. Thanks to Superfund cleanups, previously blighted properties are now being used for a wide range of purposes, including retail businesses, office space, public parks, residences, warehouses, and solar power generation. At 529 Superfund sites returned to productive use, 8,600 businesses operate and 195,000 employees earn more than $13 billion in annual income.

The Superfund Task Force is working to improve the Superfund program. EPA has implemented nearly half of the Task Force’s recommendations to expedite site cleanups and redevelopment and expects to complete the remaining recommendations by July 2019.

For information about Superfund and the NPL:

https://www.epa.gov/superfund

The 2018 Superfund Accomplishments Report is available at:

https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-remedial-annual-accomplishments

For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for NPL and proposed sites:

https://www.epa.gov/superfund/current-npl-updates-new-proposed-npl-sites-and-new-npl-sites

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/eparegion2.

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Superfund Task Force. In May 2017 EPA established a task force to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's core mission to protect health and the environment. epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force.