EPA Updates Superfund National Priorities List, Taking Action to Address Risks to Public Health and Build a Better America
Westside Lead Site in Atlanta, Georgia added to protect communities and chart next steps for cleanup
ATLANTA (March 18, 2022) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted an event to announce that it is adding the Westside Lead Site to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). Nationally, EPA is adding 12 sites and proposing to add another five sites to the NPL where releases of contamination pose significant human health and environmental risks. Cleaning up contaminated sites is important for the health, safety, and revitalization of communities.
“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.”
“At EPA, it is our charge to protect the right of all people to live in healthy communities and we’re committed to providing protections from health hazards,” said Carlton Waterhouse, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “Addressing the lead contamination at the Westside Lead site will help deliver lasting public health protections for this community burdened by the contamination from past industrial activities. Cleaning up this site, and other sites across the country like it, is part of EPA’s work to build a better America by returning contaminated sites to safe and productive reuse for future generations.”
Protecting overburdened communities from the toxic effects of Superfund sites is one of EPA’s highest priorities,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman. “By adding sites such as Westside Lead to the Superfund NPL, we are making good on our commitment to protect the people we serve and support local community revitalization by allowing land to be safely redeveloped for productive use.
“The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is working closely with the US Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the lead contamination discovered on Atlanta’s Westside,” said Richard Dunn, Director, GA Environmental Protection Division. “Placing the area on the National Priorities List is the best way to ensure that funds are available for a thorough and protective cleanup. We will continue to support our local and federal partners as the site proceeds through the listing and cleanup process.”
In 2018, an Emory University doctoral student shared data with the EPA showing elevated lead levels collected from soil samples in Atlanta’s Westside. Additional research by the EPA led to the discovery of industrial smelting waste (slag) on at least two (2) lots near Elm Street. Though slag may be a possible source of lead contamination, the presence of slag material does not automatically equate to high levels of lead in soil. Sampling is required to determine the specific risk for each property. The EPA is now performing its own sampling in the area to determine the extent of the contamination and appropriate next steps to protect public health and the environment. Since 2018, the EPA has overseen residential soil sampling in a section of English Avenue and Vine City. Since September 1, 2021, residents gave the EPA permission to sample 840 properties in the study area and, of those sampled, 311 require cleanup. Sampling is ongoing and additional properties may require cleanup. More information can be found at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/westside-lead.
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.
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.
EPA is adding the following sites in the Southeast to the NPL:
- Westside Lead, Atlanta, Georgia
- Galey and Lord Plant, Society Hill, South Carolina
- National Fireworks, Cordova, Tennessee
EPA is proposing to add the following site in the Southeast to the NPL:
- Hercules Inc, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
EPA is also withdrawing a previously proposed site, following the Agency’s determination that placing the site on the NPL is not needed to protect human health and the environment. The Agency is withdrawing a proposal to add the Riverside Groundwater Contamination site in Indianapolis, Indiana to the NPL. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is advancing the site’s cleanup at the same standards as an EPA-lead cleanup. EPA uses all available tools to ensure the protection of human health and the environment, and various non-NPL site cleanup alternatives may be more appropriate to meet a specific site’s cleanup needs.
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.
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.
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