Superfund Remedial Annual Accomplishments
Fiscal Year 2021 Report
EPA’s Superfund program tracks the following measures on an annual basis to keep the public and internal and external stakeholders informed of the program’s progress in cleaning up sites and supporting their return to beneficial use.
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On this page:
- Protecting communities' health and ecosystems
- Safeguarding communities from imminent threats
- Preparing for future cleanup efforts
- Funding Superfund work
- Conducting construction work
- Completing construction work
- Getting sites ready for redevelopment
- Ensuring long-term protection
- Superfund Sites Leaving the National Priorities List (NPL) after successful cleanups
- Optimizing Superfund work to increase efficiency
- EPA Funds State Superfund Work
Protecting communities' health and ecosystems
EPA completed actions at a net total of 13 additional sites to control potential or actual human exposure risk, bringing the cumulative total at the end of FY 2021 to 1556 sites.
At a net total of 16 additional sites, EPA controlled the migration of contaminated groundwater through engineered remedies or natural processes, bringing the cumulative total to 1,235 sites.
Safeguarding communities from imminent threats
In FY 2021, EPA completed or provided oversight for 186 removal actions to address contamination that poses imminent and substantial threats to human health and the environment.
Preparing for future cleanup efforts
EPA completed 576 remedial site assessments, for a cumulative total of 98,021. These efforts determine whether a release warrants additional actions by EPA or can be referred to some other authority.
EPA placed four sites on and proposed 13 sites to the National Priorities List (NPL). At the end of FY 2021, the NPL had 51 proposed, 1322 final and 447 deleted sites.
EPA selected 50 cleanup remedies and amended 53 cleanup plans.
There are currently 49 sites with Superfund alternative approach (SAA) agreements still in active remediation, and there are 18 sites that have SAA agreements that are construction complete.
Funding Superfund work
In FY 2021, EPA disbursed or obligated about $217 million, including reclassifications, for site-specific work across Superfund response programs – from special accounts established with funds received through potentially responsible party (PRP) settlements. Cumulatively, as of the end of FY 2021, approximately $5 billion has been disbursed or obligated for Superfund cleanups from these accounts.
In FY 2021, EPA obligated over $232 million to conduct and oversee pre-construction site work, such as site assessments and investigations, selection and design of cleanup plans, and support for state, tribal, community involvement and other activities—from congressional appropriations and special accounts.
In FY 2021, EPA obligated approximately $392 million for construction and post-construction projects from congressional appropriations, states, and special accounts.
Spotlight on Enforcement
EPA’s Superfund enforcement program helps save taxpayer dollars by finding the companies or people responsible for contamination at a site and negotiating with or ordering them to do the cleanup themselves, or to pay for the cleanup done by another party and reimbursing the Agency for its past cleanup work.
In FY 2021, through enforcement instruments, EPA obtained over $1.9 billion in private party commitments to clean up Superfund sites and approximately $106.1 million to reimburse the Agency for its past costs associated with cleanup work at Superfund sites. Additionally, EPA billed PRPs approximately $95.5 million for oversight costs associated with cleanup work performed by PRPs at Superfund sites.
Conducting construction work
EPA and other project leads started 56 new remedial construction projects, including 21 government-led projects, 20 PRP-led projects and 15 federal facility-led projects.
EPA and other project leads conducted construction or provided oversight at 441 remedial construction projects started in prior fiscal years.
EPA was unable to fund new construction work at 37 National Priorities List sites that would have otherwise been ready for construction in FY 2021. Construction projects awaiting funding result when a potentially responsible party is not found or cannot pay, and no other funding sources, including appropriated funds, are available. See:
Completing construction work
In FY 2021, EPA and other project leads completed 75 remedial construction projects.
“Construction completion” is a milestone that indicates all physical construction required for the cleanup of the entire site has been completed (even though final cleanup levels may not have been achieved). For example, a groundwater treatment system has been constructed though it may need to operate for a number of years in order for all contaminants to be removed from the groundwater.
In FY 2021, all physical construction required for the cleanup of the entire site was completed at eight NPL sites.
Getting sites ready for redevelopment
In FY 2021, Superfund identified 28 additional sites as having all long-term protections in place to meet Superfund’s Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use (SWRAU) measure. To meet SWRAU, a site must have: all aspects of the cleanup in place for any media that may affect future land uses; all land use restrictions or other cleanup controls in place; and be a final or deleted NPL site, or SAA site, that has reached the construction complete milestone. This brings the net total of SWRAU sites to 995 sites.
Redevelopment of Superfund sites, which can start prior to the SWRAU designation, has brought thousands of jobs to communities. Many sites that EPA has designated as ready for reuse in previous years now host parks, business districts, renewable energy facilities, commercial and industrial facilities, and wildlife habitat.
Returning Superfund Sites to Productive Use
Today, more than 1,000 federal and non-federal Superfund sites support new and ongoing uses. EPA has collected data on more than 10,200 businesses at 650 non-federal Superfund sites. In FY 2021, these businesses generated $65.8 billion in sales and employed more than 246,000 people who earned a combined income of more than $18.6 billion.
Over the last 11 years (2011-2021), these businesses’ ongoing operations have generated at least $478 billion (inflation adjusted) in sales.
Ensuring long-term protection
EPA conducted 260 five-year reviews, including 46 at federal facility sites, to ensure that remedies built at these sites continue to protect communities.
Superfund Sites Leaving the National Priorities List (NPL) After Successful Cleanups
Deletion from the NPL announces to communities and signals to potential developers and financial institutions that cleanup is complete. Deletion from the NPL helps the community move forward and is necessary for a site to be eligible for Brownfields grants that help revitalize communities and promote economic growth.
In FY 2021, EPA deleted nine full sites and parts of 16 more sites. In total, EPA has deleted 447 sites from the NPL and has made 134 partial deletions at 104 NPL sites (some sites have multiple partial deletions).
Optimizing Superfund work to increase efficiency
Through Superfund’s optimization program, teams of independent technical experts identify and support opportunities to improve the effectiveness and cost efficiency of Superfund remedies. In FY 2021, Superfund completed 26 optimization evaluation and support projects, with another 75 underway and continuing into 2022. Often, the optimization of remedies typically yields benefits in terms of cost savings, improved effectiveness, and improved timelines of completion that greatly exceed the costs of optimization itself.
EPA Funds State Superfund Work
In partnership with states and tribes and through cooperative agreements, EPA provides states and tribes with funding to conduct work under the Superfund program, including site assessment, investigations, remedial action, review of remedy decision documents and enforcement actions. In FY 2021, EPA provided approximately $63.3 million to states to conduct activities at NPL sites, and to support the Superfund program. States play a significant role in identifying and assessing sites to determine the most appropriate cleanup program to address the site. In FY 2021, states developed 369 (64%) of the 576 Superfund remedial site assessments across 41 states as well as tribal land.