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Superfund Task Force Issues Final Report and Announces Plans to Continue Program Improvements Moving Forward

09/09/2019
Contact Information: 
Margot Perez-Sullivan (perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov)
415-947-4149

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Today in Mountain View, California, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine announced the completion of the Superfund Task Force and issued the Task Force’s final report outlining significant accomplishments over the past two years at Superfund sites across the country. The announcement, made from Mountain View City Hall, included plans for integrating the work of the Task Force into EPA’s ongoing cleanup work moving forward.

“Thanks to the hard work of EPA career officials, the Superfund Task Force has strengthened the program in numerous ways, from accelerating cleanups to promoting redevelopment to improving community engagement,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The recommendations generated by the Task Force and applied by the Superfund program have directly improved the health and economic opportunity of thousands of people living near Superfund sites. We are taking concrete steps to ensure that the work of the Task Force continues to enhance the Superfund program moving forward.”

In Mountain View, the Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman Superfund Study Area (or MEW Site) is comprised of three Superfund sites: Fairchild Semiconductor Corp., Raytheon Company, Intel Corp., several other facilities and portions of the former Naval Air Station Moffett Field. These manufacturing and industrial facilities released a variety of chemicals, including volatile organic compounds, affecting soil and groundwater.

While the ground water and soil contamination are being addressed through Superfund remedies, EPA discovered additional contamination in 2016. In 2017, EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice entered into a Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser agreement with Warmington Fairchild Associates LLC to accelerate cleanup and significantly reduce subsurface contamination in a short timeframe at three parcels in the MEW site.

"Mountain View has worked with the EPA for years to reform and redevelop the Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman Superfund area,” said Mayor Lisa Matichak. “Through cleanup and ongoing mitigation standards, the area has been transformed into a place for families, has seen an economic development boom in attracting prominent companies that now call Mountain View home, and will become a new, thriving neighborhood as we finalize the East Whisman Precise Plan. Overall, I would consider this a success story.”

The Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser agreement addressed Warmington’s and EPA’s concerns, and expedited cleanup and residential redevelopment in a manner protective of human health for future occupancy. This unique approach to redevelopment is an excellent example of the Task Force’s goals and recommendations.

The important work of the Task Force will continue under the Superfund Program and at all sites on the National Priorities List (NPL). The agency will continue to prioritize expediting cleanups to protect people’s health and the environment. Moving forward, the agency plans to:

  • Conduct a strategic and comprehensive portfolio review of every site remaining on the NPL to enable EPA to better utilize the Task Force’s tools and lessons learned in advancing cleanups across the country.
    • Continue to identify and implement new opportunities and approaches to improve the program’s performance and effectiveness.

Highlights of the Superfund Task Force Accomplishments

Goal 1: Expediting Cleanup and Remediation - The Task Force developed several tools to expedite cleanup and remediation at sites including the Administrator’s Emphasis List, a list of sites targeted for the administrator’s immediate and intense attention. The agency will continue using the Emphasis List to focus on sites needing immediate and intense attention and will update the list quarterly. Substantial progress has been made at sites on this list, for example:

  • New Castle, Delaware: At the Delaware Sand and Gravel Landfill Superfund Site a settlement with responsible parties was secured allowing the initiation of pre-design work and installation of two groundwater interceptor wells to protect water supply wells.
  • Picher and Cardin, Oklahoma: At the Tar Creek Superfund Site the Agency brought together various parties to develop a long-term strategy to manage risks, cleanup, and economic opportunities at the site.

Goal 2: Re-Invigorating Responsible Party Cleanup and Reuse - The Task Force developed new enforcement guidance for EPA’s regional offices to accelerate remedial design starts at potentially responsible party (PRP)-lead Superfund sites. Moving forward, the guidance’s recommended settlement strategy will be considered by EPA regions as a matter of national practice. This guidance has accelerated work at several sites, for example:

  • Calvert City, Kentucky: At the B.F. Goodrich Site EPA negotiated a settlement agreement with PRPs for the remedial design. The agreement allows the PRPs to begin designing the cleanup while negotiating a separate agreement for the remedial action phase of the cleanup.

Goal 3: Encouraging Private Investment - The Task Force recognized that EPA should support, where appropriate, innovative approaches to promote third-party investment in cleanup and reuse of contaminated properties consistent with statutory authorities. By the end of 2019, EPA plans to issue a memorandum to EPA regional offices to promote this approach where appropriate and in the interest of the Superfund Program, for example:

  • Fredericktown, Missouri: At the Madison County Mines Site, EPA entered into an administrative settlement with Missouri Mining Investments, LLC to conduct removal actions at the site. This will result in the consolidation and capping of on-site mine waste and allow the approximately 1,750-acre property to be redeveloped for future mining of cobalt and other metals.

Goal 4: Promoting Redevelopment and Community Revitalization - The Task Force worked to increase the number of NPL sites that are returned to communities for redevelopment through focused management attention and improved program practices. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, EPA achieved the goal sitewide ready for anticipated use at 51 sites, the highest total since FY 2013. EPA will continue to post specific information about sites available for redevelopment prominently on the Superfund Redevelopment website for stakeholders, developers, and businesses seeking information, for example:

  • Libby, Montana: The agency identified the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site and the Libby Groundwater Contamination Superfund site as redevelopment opportunities. In addition to a cleanup that restored neighborhoods and business areas, parts of the sites are now in reuse. The Riverfront Park now has river access, pavilions, a memorial, parking, and picnic tables.

Goal 5: Engaging Partners and Stakeholders - The Task Force initiated a number of ongoing outreach activities to engage communities near Superfund sites, for example:

  • Partnership and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy: EPA developed and released a “Partnership and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy”(https://semspub.epa.gov/work/HQ/100000860.pdf) to strengthen EPA partnerships and increase public participation and transparency at Superfund sites across the country.
  • Risk Communication Strategy: The agency developed a plan (https://semspub.epa.gov/work/HQ/199586.pdf) to improve risk communication and community involvement practices during the long-term stewardship phase of Superfund site remediation. Lessons learned from implementing this plan will be applied across the life-cycle of the Superfund process.

More information on EPA’s Superfund Task Force and the final Superfund Task Force Report can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-recommendations-and-accomplishments

A storyboard highlighting Superfund Task Force success stories from across the country can be found at: https://epa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=21708909e0164750b20b351e2d931092

More information on the MEW Site can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/mew-study-area