EPA Updates Superfund National Priorities List to Clean Up Pollution, Address Public Health Risks, and Build a Better America
EPA Adds Meeker Avenue Plume Site in Brooklyn, New York to the Superfund List
NEW YORK - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is proposing to add five sites and is adding 12, including the final listing of the Meeker Avenue Plume site in Brooklyn, New York, to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). The federal NPL includes sites where releases of contamination pose significant human health and environmental risks.
“No community deserves to have contaminated sites near where they live, work, play, and go to school. Nearly 2 out of 3 of the sites being proposed or added to the priorities list are in overburdened or underserved communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA is building a better America by taking action to clean up some of the nation’s most contaminated sites, protect communities’ health, and return contaminated land to safe and productive reuse for future generations.”
"The addition of the Meeker Avenue Plume site to the National Priorities List will ensure a thorough evaluation and response to soil and groundwater contamination and indoor air quality concerns in the Meeker Avenue area," said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. "We look forward to working with our state and local partners and to building relationships with community residents and leaders as we begin the site investigation process."
"After decades of irresponsible dumping, the addition of the Meeker Avenue Plume to the EPA's National Priorities List (NPL) marks a huge first step in ensuring the cleanup of this site," said Senator Chuck Schumer. "This listing will put the full weight of the EPA towards restoring the site and the safety of the Greenpoint and East Williamsburg communities. I applaud the EPA for this decision and look forward to continuing our partnership with the State of New York and local stakeholders to clean up contaminated sites across New York."
"Listing the Meeker Avenue Plume is a great step in following through on the Superfund principle that the polluter pays right here in North Brooklyn," said Representative Velázquez. "This area has underground contamination of oil and a number of harmful, toxic chemicals, and the Superfund program is our strongest tool for cleaning up such hazardous sites. I strongly urged that the Meeker Avenue Plume be included as a Superfund cleanup site over a decade ago when I was working with the community to designate Newtown Creek. Working families have a right to live in a place that supports good public health, and I am thankful that EPA has put the Meeker Avenue Plume on the Superfund National Priorities List. This is a huge step in ensuring that those large corporations responsible are held accountable to pay for the cleanup. This is environmental justice for some of our most vulnerable residents who are at the highest risk of exposure."
“Having the Meeker Avenue Plume added to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites will enable the EPA to truly address legacy pollution and make federal cleanup funding available to protect New Yorkers,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “The plumes at this site are the result of historic hazardous waste dumping and irresponsible manufacturing practices, creating a substantial threat to my constituents and their health. I want to thank the Biden-Harris Administration and the EPA for tackling these threats to human health and the environment. I’m grateful that New York can now get the help and support it needs to address these dangerous environmental effects once and for all.”
“New York State welcomes U.S. EPA’s proposed addition of the Brillo Landfill site and finalization of the Meeker Avenue Plume site to the Federal Superfund Program’s National Priorities List,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Working collaboratively with DEC, our federal partners will deploy the best available science and resources to protect the Greenpoint and East Williamsburg communities by addressing the soil, soil vapor, and groundwater plume in the vicinity of Meeker Avenue, and continue the critical work of preventing potential exposure to the public. DEC remains committed to partnering with the Biden Administration and EPA Administrator Regan to advance the cleanup of former industrial sites in Brooklyn, the town of Victory, and statewide to protect public health and the environment.”
EPA is finalizing the site onto the NPL after proposing the site on September 8, 2021. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) discovered the Meeker Avenue Plume site during the investigation and remediation of a nearby plume from a petroleum spill northeast of the Meeker Avenue Plume site. This investigation and remediation identified chlorinated volatile organic compounds (CVOCs) in subsurface soil and groundwater outside the historic petroleum spill area, prompting NYSDEC to investigate at the Meeker Avenue Plume site to identify the sources of the CVOC contamination. The Greenpoint area along the banks of Newtown Creek was historically used for petroleum refining and storage operations from the 1850s until refinery operations ceased in the 1960s. Since that time, some properties have been used as petroleum bulk storage terminals.
NYSDEC’s previous and ongoing work at this site includes investigations that revealed contaminants of CVOCs, including tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), in the subsurface soil and indoor air of occupied residential and commercial structures situated 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 coming up through 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 Meeker Avenue Plume site boundary.
EPA’s next step will be to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study to determine the nature and extent of contamination, assess potential threats to human health and the environment, and evaluate various cleanup options based on the information collected. EPA will continue working closely with our state and local partners throughout the process, including community outreach and involvement activities to ensure the whole community and stakeholders are informed of our work and future cleanup plans.
Thousands of contaminated sites, from landfills, processing plants, to manufacturing facilities exist nationally due to hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open, or otherwise improperly managed. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will accelerate EPA’s work to help communities clean up these contaminated sites with a $3.5 billion investment in the Superfund Remedial Program and reinstates the Superfund chemical excise taxes, making it one of the largest investments in American history to address legacy pollution. This historic investment strengthens EPA’s ability to tackle threats to human health and the environment, and EPA has already set action in motion to clear the backlog of the 49 contaminated sites which had been awaiting funding to start remedial action.
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 2021, EPA has collected economic data on 650 Superfund sites. At these sites, there are 10,230 businesses operating on these sites, 246,000 people employed, an estimated $18.6 billion in income earned by employees, and $65.8 billion in sales generated by businesses.
With this Superfund NPL update, the Biden-Harris Administration is following through on its commitment to update the NPL twice a year, as opposed to once per year. The Superfund Program is also part of President Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which aims to ensure that federal agencies deliver at least 40 percent of benefits from certain investments to underserved communities.
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. Before EPA adds a site to the NPL, a site must meet EPA’s requirements and be proposed for addition to the list in the Federal Register, subject to a 60-day public comment period. EPA will add the site to the NPL if it continues to meet the listing requirements after the public comment period closes and the agency has responded to any comments.
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