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  1. 1. United States Office of Solid Waste and EPA 540-K-96/004 Environmental Emergency Response June 1996 Protection Agency (5204G) EPA Superfund Today Superfund Today Focus On Cleanup Costs The Buck Stops Here Did You Polluters are Paying for Most Know...? Hazardous Waste Cleanups Cleaning up hazardous waste situations where the public is ♦ In 1995 alone, over $670 is Superfund’s highest priority. at immediate risk from the million was spent cleaning And the public’s demand that contamination, EPA will use the up hazardous waste. polluters pay for cleanup also Trust Fund to pay for initial ♦ In 1995, polluters performed makes it critical that EPA find cleanups and look for and 75% of new Superfund those who are responsible. At negotiate with the polluters later. cleanups. more and more Superfund sites, Whenever the Trust Fund is ♦ 78% of the Superfund Trust polluters are “stepping up to the used, EPA attempts to recover Fund has come from chemi- plate” to clean contaminated air, the cost of cleanup by taking cal, petroleum, and corpo- soil, groundwater, and surface legal actions, if necessary, rate taxes. water. This cooperation, coupl- against those responsible. ed with EPA’s enforcement Regardless of who is res- ♦ 62% of the Trust Fund has activity, is increasing the number been spent on site cleanup ponsible for contaminating the response. of polluters involved in cleanup environment and who pays for activities. In fact, in 1995, the cleanup in the long run, ♦ 700,000 tons of hazardous those responsible for contam- reducing the threat to the public waste are produced in ination performed 75% of new and the environment is EPA’s America every day. Superfund cleanups and, since first and foremost concern. 1980, have committed to pay more than $11 billion toward these cleanups (see graph). When those responsible for Those Responsible for Contamination hazardous waste contamination Have Committed to Pay Over $11 Billion cannot be found or are unable to From 1980 to 1995 pay, EPA uses money from the Trust Fund, known as the Superfund, to clean up the worst of these sites. The Trust Fund is financed mostly through a special tax on the petroleum and chemical industries, and from environmental taxes collected from industries whose production has an impact on the environment. In emergency •June 1996• 1
  2. 2. A Nation Dealing With Hazardous Waste What is the Problem... per year—enough to fill the manufacturing, such as gov- Superdome in New Orleans ernments, the military, hospi- Even though we know more about reducing and 1,500 times. tals, and universities. Munici- controlling hazardous waste today than we did in the The waste comes from pal landfills, a combination of past, America still produces 700,000 tons of hazard- many sources. Most of it is relatively harmless household ous waste every day. That adds up to 250 million tons produced by manufacturers waste and some industrial including makers of chemi- waste, also are a part of the cals, petroleum, metal, tex- hazardous waste problem. Municipal Manufacturing tiles, and electric equipment, Certain hazardous wastes are Landfills as well as businesses that treat more harmful than others. 16% wood, produce food and pa- Some of these wastes have not per, and undertake construc- been safely handled and have tion. Other sources are non- polluted the environment. 56% 28% Non- manufacturing ...Who is Responsible... Today we have the technol- parties did not break existing Types of PRPs at Superfund Sites ogy and the laws to control laws when they disposed of hazardous waste production and their hazardous wastes. How- disposal. But yesterday’s waste ever, under today’s tougher ...and How Do We sites still exist. Figuring out environmental laws, they are who is responsible for cleanup is considered responsible if they Pay for Cleanup? a big job. caused the waste or even car- Superfund requires those The public has demanded ried waste to a site. The PRPs responsible for hazardous that those who produced and for a Superfund site can in- waste sites to pay for or per- handled the waste clean it up. clude large or small compa- form the cleanup. After a site At Superfund sites, EPA tries nies, past or present owners, is discovered and any imme- to identify those likely to be individuals, and even Federal diate dangers are taken care responsible for causing or con- agencies. Often a site, such as of, EPA begins to search for tributing to the hazardous waste a landfill, will have hundreds the PRPs. Some of the search contamination. They are called of PRPs because many differ- techniques EPA uses are re- “potentially responsible par- ent individuals and groups viewing site files, looking for ties,” or PRPs. Many of these have stored or sent waste there. names on drums or other materials on site, and inter- viewing former employees or and money in the long run. If the PRPs do not cooperate, EPA can neighbors of the site. Once either get a court order requiring them to perform the cleanup or PRPs are located, EPA sends conduct the cleanup itself using the Trust Fund. If EPA conducts them notice letters. A notice the cleanup, the Agency can then recover in court up to three times letter summarizes informa- the amount of the cost of cleanup plus penalties. The Trust Fund tion EPA has used to identify also pays for cleanup if PRPs cannot be found or if they are unable the PRPs and encourages or unwilling to pay. them to work with EPA to Sharing in Federal cleanup costs are the states where sites are agree on cleanup responsi- located. States must contribute at least 10% of these cleanup costs bility for the site. and are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the sites. PRPs may be responsible When EPA does negotiate a cleanup plan with the PRPs, site for the entire cost of the work begins under EPA supervision. This agreement with PRPs cleanup; therefore, negotiat- enables the parties involved to develop a fair cleanup plan and ing a fair cleanup plan with quickly and efficiently make sites safe again for people and the EPA early will save them time environment. t •June 1996• 2
  3. 3. Superfund’s Trust Fund Aiming Dollars at Cleanups People sometimes imagine How has the Trust Fund used to research and develop expensive lawyers, endless money been spent? The illustra- new cleanup technologies, and courtroom battles, and lawsuits tion below shows that most of were distributed to other EPA when Superfund is discussed. Superfund’s 1995 budget was offices and Federal agencies. In fact, EPA spends 62% of the spent on site cleanup response. For example, every year the Trust Fund on actual site This includes testing and sam- Agency for Toxic Substances cleanup. Enforcement activi- pling, relocating affected people and Disease Registry receives ties, such as suing potentially or providing them with alternate Trust Fund money to perform responsible parties (PRPs) to water supplies, running com- critical health studies at recover cleanup costs and munity outreach programs, as Superfund sites. The remain- negotiating court orders, use well as managing and conduct- ing 9% of the Trust Fund was only 15%. Since 1987, ing site cleanups. Some of the used to manage Superfund pro- Superfund has collected $1.6 Trust Fund dollars also were gram activities. t billion through cost recovery efforts. In most cases, Trust Fund money is used to clean up sites where there is very little hope of either finding those respon- sible, or getting them to pay for or conduct the cleanup. For example, if a site or an area of contamination is discovered but the polluting company has gone bankrupt, the Trust Fund takes over. The Trust Fund is authorized by Congress as part of the Superfund law, and the money pays for everything re- lated to cleanup from bulldoz- ers to file folders. How Superfund $$ Were Spent (1995) What About the Little Guy? EPA considers the amount and be a neighborhood dry cleaner that protect small hazardous waste harmfulness of waste contributed sent a small amount of hazardous contributors from future legal or the level of involvement at a waste to a landfill. For parties actions brought by EPA or by site when negotiating a cleanup contributing an even smaller other PRPs. This is an important plan with potentially responsible amount of waste than de minimis benefit, because parties some- parties (PRPs). Some may have parties, EPA uses the term de times sue each other for money only contributed a small amount micromis. in an effort to lower their cleanup of hazardous waste. Others may EPA works closely with both costs. De minimis and de have contributed a large amount, de minimis and de micromis PRPs micromis settlements save time but it might not have been very when negotiating for the cleanup and money for all parties in- harmful. De minimis, a Latin of a site. This allows small haz- volved and provide settlors with term meaning “at the least,” de- ardous waste contributors to agree a high level of confidence that scribes these two types of PRPs to their fair share of cleanup costs they have met their responsibili- in the Superfund program. For and complete the negotiation pro- ties for a clean site. example, a de minimis party might cess. These settlements also t •June 1996• 3
  4. 4. Working Together at Bypass 601 EPA and Polluters Launch a Successful Joint Cleanup Effort CONCORD, NORTH CARO- local area (including private (defined as those who had sent LINA—At first glance, the residences and small businesses). less than a truckload of batteries Bypass 601 Groundwater Harmful contaminants such as or 40,000 lbs to the site). Many Contamination Superfund site lead and sulfuric acid leaked into polluters could not be found. in Concord, North Carolina the soil and groundwater. EPA Despite the variety and seemed like a cleanup nightmare studies revealed that site cleanup number of PRPs at Bypass 601, for EPA—4,000 possible would require solidification and EPA’s goal was to treat each one polluters being investigated for stabilization of lead-contam- as fairly as possible. Highlights serious lead contamination of inated soils, and pumping and of EPA’s cleanup settlement the site’s soil and groundwater. treating of the contaminated included cleanup agreements However, thanks to a groundwater—carrying an with 80 de minimis PRPs, cooperative effort between EPA estimated $40 million price tag. protection for all de micromis and the potentially responsible EPA identified the main and de minimis parties from parties (PRPs), a fair being sued by other settlement plan Working together, EPA and the PRPs, and allocation of emerged that will potentially responsible parties $10 million from the allow cleanup of the arrived at a cost-effective way to Trust Fund to cover site to move forward. polluters who were not The plan calls for move cleanup forward... found or could not pay cleanup to be funded for cleanup. EPA also by the polluters—based on the polluter at the site as the owner encouraged other larger polluters amount of hazardous waste they and operator of the MSR facility. to join a steering committee, contributed to the site—as well However, the list of PRPs which then negotiated a separate as by the Trust Fund, for the costs included many more polluters. cleanup agreement with the that cannot be covered by the Under Superfund law, people Agency. EPA will supervise the polluters. who had sent or transported cleanup activities. The For a number of years, batteries to the site were liable settlement also means EPA will batteries were disposed of at for cleanup. This raised the get back 100% of the money it the Martin Scrap Recycling number of PRPs to more than had already spent at the site. (MSR) facility located on 4,000. EPA classified 2,400 of Working together, EPA and Bypass 601. Once the lead them as de micromis parties (at the PRPs arrived at a cost- plates were removed for scrap, this site, defined as those parties effective way to move cleanup the leftover casings were buried who had sent fewer than 10 lead forward at the Bypass 601 in the ground at the facility, and batteries or less than 200 lbs) Groundwater Contamination at ten other source areas in the and another 115 as de minimis site. For More Information on the Superfund Program... EPA Superfund Hotline (800) 424-9346 or TDD: (800) 553-7672 Internet: www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hotline/ Information Resources Center OWPE (202) 260-5922, 401 M Street, SW, Washington, DC 20460; Printed on Internet: www.epa.gov/epapages/natlibra/hqirc/services.htm recycled paper •June 1996• 4