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This is a Superfund


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A Citizens Guide to the Superfund Process

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This is a Superfund

  1. 1. United States Office of EPA 540-K-99-006 Environmental Protection Emergency and OSWER 9200.5-12A Agency Remedial Response January 2000 THIS IS SUPERFUND A Citizen’s Guide to EPA’s Superfund Program
  2. 2. EPA 540-K-99-006 OSWER 9200.5-12A January 2000 THIS IS SUPERFUND A Citizen’s Guide to EPA’s Superfund Program United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Emergency and Remedial Response Washington, D.C. 20460
  3. 3. PREFACE IF THERE IS A SUPERFUND SITE in your neighborhood, you are probably wondering, “what will happen?” and, “what can I do?” This brochure will give you a better understanding of the Superfund process and how you can become involved . . .
  4. 4. Hazardous waste WHAT IS SUPERFUND? sites pose threats to human health and YEARS AGO, people did not hazardous waste sites, natural resources. understand how certain Congress established the wastes might affect people’s Superfund Program in 1980 to health and the environment. clean up these sites. The Many wastes were dumped on Superfund Program is the ground, in rivers or left out administered by the U.S. in the open. As a result, Environmental Protection thousands of uncontrolled or Agency (EPA) in cooperation abandoned hazardous waste with individual states and Superfund cleans up sites were created. Some tribal governments. Superfund these sites to protect common hazardous waste locates, investigates, and people and the sites include abandoned cleans up hazardous waste environment, and warehouses, manufacturing sites throughout the United return the land to facilities, processing plants, States. productive use. and landfills. The Superfund Trust Fund In response to growing was set up to pay for the concern over health and cleanup of these sites. The environmental risks posed by money comes mainly from 1
  5. 5. taxes on the chemical and contamination at Superfund petroleum industries. The sites cannot be found, or Trust Fund is used primarily cannot perform or pay for the when those companies or cleanup work. people responsible for HOW ARE SUPERFUND SITES DISCOVERED? NATIONAL RESPONSE CENTER HOTLINE HAZARDOUS WASTE SITES are your state and local If you know of an discovered by local and state authorities. To report a uncontrolled hazardous agencies, businesses, the U.S. hazardous waste site, waste site or problem, contact EPA, the U.S. Coast Guard, problem, or emergency, you the National Response Center Hotline at 1-800-424-8802. and by people like you. You should call the hotline at The hotline is operated can report potential hazardous 1-800-424-8802. This hotline is 24-hours-a-day to receive waste sites to the National operated 24-hours-a-day, emergency calls. Response Center Hotline or to seven-days-a-week. 2
  6. 6. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THERE IS A CHEMICAL EMERGENCY? A NUMBER OF THE SITES reported emergencies may include train to the National Response derailments, truck accidents, Center are emergencies and and incidents at chemical require immediate action. plants where there is a Emergency actions eliminate chemical release or threat of a Superfund quickly immediate risks to ensure release to the environment. responds to chemical your safety. Superfund’s Superfund may respond, or emergencies to number one priority is to may help state and local ensure your safety. protect the people in authorities to deal with these communities near sites and emergencies quickly. The their environment. hazardous materials are hauled away from the site for Superfund personnel are on treatment or proper disposal, call to respond at a moment’s or they are treated at the site notice to chemical to make them safe. The risk to emergencies, accidents, or the community is removed. releases. Typical chemical 3
  7. 7. In an emergency situation, you EPA then evaluates the site EARLY ACTION and your community will be and determines whether Early Actions are taken when kept informed of the situation additional cleanup is EPA determines that a site and what steps are being necessary. may become a threat to you taken to ensure your safety. or your environment in the near future. For example, there may be a site where WHAT HAPPENS TO SITES THAT leaking drums of hazardous ARE NOT EMERGENCIES? substances could ignite or cause harm to you if touched or inhaled. In an instance WHEN A POTENTIAL hazardous Many of the sites that are such as this, EPA takes steps waste site is reported, EPA screened do not meet the to make sure the situation is screens the site to determine criteria for federal Superfund quickly addressed and the site what type of action is cleanup action. Some sites do is safe. Typically Early necessary. EPA reviews not require any action, while Actions are taken to: existing data, inspects the site, others are referred to the • prevent direct human and may interview nearby states, other programs, other contact with the contaminants from the residents to find out the agencies or individuals for site; history and the effects of the cleanup, or other action. • remove hazardous site on the population and the materials from the site; environment. 4
  8. 8. • prevent contaminants For the remaining sites, EPA At this point, EPA works with from spreading off the tests the soil, water, and air to local leaders and citizens to site; determine what hazardous prepare a Community • provide water to residents substances were left at the site Involvement Plan (CIP). The whose drinking water has and how serious the risks may CIP ensures local residents been contaminated by the be to human health and the have an opportunity to site; or environment. Parties participate in the decision- • temporarily or permanently evacuate/ responsible for the making process. In addition, relocate nearby residents. contamination at the site may EPA sets up a local conduct these assessments information file in the Early Actions may take under close EPA supervision. community so that citizens can anywhere from a few days to Their involvement in the have access to information five years to complete study and cleanup process is about the site. The information depending on the type and extent of contamination. critical in order to make best file or “repository” is usually EPA also determines if Long- use of Superfund resources. located at a library or public term Action will be EPA uses the information school and contains the official necessary. collected to decide what type record of the site, reports, and of action, if any, is required. activities (called the Administrative Record), as well as additional site-related information. 5
  9. 9. WHO IS INVOLVED IN SUPERFUND CLEANUPS? TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE GRANT (TAG) PROGRAM SUPERFUND CLEANUPS are very live in from the effects of complex and require the hazardous substances. EPA values your input and wants to help you efforts of many experts in understand the technical science, engineering, public Your involvement is very information relating to the health, management, law, important. You have the cleanup of Superfund sites in community involvement, and opportunity and the right to your community so that you numerous other fields. The be involved in and to can make informed decisions. goal of the process is to protect comment on the work being Under the Superfund law, you and the environment you done. EPA can award Technical Assistance Grants (TAGs) of up to $50,000 per site. TAGs allow communities to hire an WHAT IS THE NATIONAL PRIORITIES LIST? independent expert to help them interpret technical data, THE NATIONAL PRIORITIES LIST extensive, long-term cleanup understand site hazards, and (NPL) is a published list of action under the Superfund become more knowledgeable hazardous waste sites in the program. about the different country that are eligible for technologies that are being used to clean up sites. 6
  10. 10. Your community group may HOW DO THE SITES GET ON THE NATIONAL be eligible for a TAG if you PRIORITIES LIST? are affected by a Superfund site that is listed on the TO EVALUATE THE DANGERS posed also be proposed for the NPL National Priorities List by hazardous waste sites, EPA if the Agency for Toxic (NPL) or proposed for listing has developed a scoring Substances and Disease on the NPL where a response action is underway. system called the Hazard Registry issues a health Ranking System (HRS). EPA advisory for the site or if the More information about uses the information collected site is chosen as the state’s top TAGs is available from your Regional EPA Community during the assessment phase priority site. The proposal is Involvement Coordinator. of the process to score sites published in the Federal An address and number according to the danger they Register and the public has an where your coordinator can may pose to public health and opportunity to comment in be reached is listed in the the environment. Sites that writing on whether the site back of this brochure. score high enough on the HRS should be included on the are eligible for the NPL. Once NPL. To obtain more a site is scored and meets the information on a proposed criteria, EPA proposes that it site, contact your Community be put on the NPL. A site may Involvement Coordinator. 7
  12. 12. WHAT HAPPENS DURING A LONG-TERM CLEANUP? The Superfund process begins when a site is discovered. After EPA screens and assesses the site, the Regional Decision LONG-TERM CLEANUPS are nearby, and options for Team determines if the site requires Early extensive. Built into this cleaning up the site. Action, Long-term Action, or both. Early process are several phases that Actions are taken at sites that may pose lead to the ultimate goal of EPA uses this information to threats to people or the environment in cleaning up the site and develop and present a the near future. Long-term Actions are providing a safe environment Proposed Plan for Long-term taken at sites that require extensive for the citizens living near the Cleanup to citizens and to cleanup. EPA encourages community site. Throughout the process, local and state officials for involvement throughout the Superfund comment. The Proposed Plan there is opportunity for citizen process. describes the various cleanup involvement. options under consideration First, a detailed study of the and identifies the option EPA site is done to identify the prefers. The community has at cause and extent of least 30 days to comment on contamination at the site, the the Proposed Plan. EPA possible threats to the invites community members environment and the people to a public meeting to express 9
  13. 13. their views and discuss the are conducted by EPA, the LONG-TERM ACTIONS Plan with EPA (and sometimes state or the parties responsible Early Actions can correct many state) officials. for the contamination at the hazardous waste problems and site. EPA closely oversees this eliminate most threats to human Once the public’s concerns are health and the environment. Some design phase and the sites, however, require Long-term addressed, EPA publishes a development of the cleanup at Action. Long-term Actions include Record of Decision, which the site. When the design is restoring groundwater and taking describes how the agency completed, EPA prepares and measures to protect wetlands, plans to clean up the site. A estuaries, and other ecological distributes a fact sheet to the resources. notice is also placed in the community describing the local newspaper to inform the These sites were caused by years of design and the actions that pollution and may take several years, community of the cleanup will take place at the site. even decades, to clean up. decision. EPA can put in place the Next, the cleanup method is equipment and resources designed to address the necessary to clean up a site, unique conditions at the site but it may take a long time to where it will be used. This is return a site to the way it was called the Remedial Design. before it was contaminated. The design and actual cleanup Some sites, due to the extent of 10
  14. 14. contamination, will never regularly monitors every NPL return to the way they were site to make sure it remains prior to the pollution; safe. If there is any indication however, EPA will make sure that a problem has arisen, that the site will be safe for the immediate action will be taken people living around the site to make the site safe again. now and in the future. EPA WHO PAYS FOR SUPERFUND CLEANUPS? SUPERFUND CLEANUP is either at the site. EPA negotiates with paid for by the parties the responsible parties to get responsible for contamination them to pay for the plans and Superfund involves or by the Superfund Trust the work that has to be done to local communities to Fund. Under the Superfund clean up the site. If an ensure that their law, EPA is able to make those agreement cannot be reached, concerns regarding companies and individuals EPA issues orders to hazardous waste sites responsible for contamination responsible parties to make are addressed. at a Superfund site perform, them clean up the site under and pay for, the cleanup work EPA supervision. EPA may 11
  15. 15. also use Superfund Trust Fund money back through legal money to pay for cleanup action. costs, then attempt to get the CONCLUSION EPA’S SUPERFUND PROGRAM is expensive ways to clean up the most aggressive hazardous sites. And, where possible, old Superfund ensures that the parties waste cleanup program in the hazardous waste sites are responsible for the world. Everyday, Superfund being restored to productive pollution pay their managers are involved in use. Millions of people have fair share. critical decisions that affect been protected by Superfund’s public health and the cleanup actions. environment. They use the best available science to The Superfund Program has determine risks at sites. New one ultimate goal: to protect and innovative technologies YOUR health and YOUR are being developed to help environment. achieve faster and less 12
  16. 16. EPA SUPERFUND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT OFFICES Protecting communities and the EPA wants to remain accessible and responsive to your concerns. environment is what Our Community Involvement staff is available to answer any Superfund is all about. questions you may have regarding a Superfund site or an area you think may be a site. Here is a complete list of EPA’s Regional Offices (800 and 888 numbers only work within the Region, except for Region 4). U.S. EPA REGION 1 (RAA) U.S. EPA REGION 3 (3HS43) (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT) (DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, WV) One Congress Street, 1650 Arch Street Suite 1100 Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029 Boston, MA 02114-2023 (215) 814-5131 or (617) 918-1064 or (800) 553-2509 (888) 372-7341 U.S. EPA REGION 4 U.S. EPA REGION 2 (26-OEP) (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN) (NJ, NY, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands) Waste Management Division 290 Broadway, 26th floor Atlanta Federal Center New York, NY 10007-1866 61 Forsyth Street, S.W. (212) 637-3675 or Atlanta, GA 30303 (800) 346-5009 (800) 435-9234 or (800) 435-9233 13
  17. 17. U.S. EPA REGION 5 (PS19-J) U.S. EPA REGION 8 (8-OC) If you wish to obtain additional (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI) (CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY) copies of this document, contact the Metcalfe Federal Building, 999 18th Street, Suite 500 Superfund Document Center at: 19th floor Denver, CO 80202-2466 (703) 603-9232 77 W. Jackson Boulevard (303) 312-6312 or Chicago, IL 60604-3507 (800) 227-8917 (312) 353-2072 or (800) 621-8431 U.S. EPA REGION 9 (SFD-3) (AZ, CA, HI, NV, U.S. TERRITORIES) U.S. EPA REGION 6 (6SF-P) 75 Hawthorne Street (AR, LA, NM, OK, TX) San Francisco, CA 94105 Wells Fargo Bank (415) 744-2175 or Tower at Fountain Place (800) 231-3075 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200 Dallas, TX 75202-2733 U.S. EPA REGION 10 (ECO-081) (214) 665-8157 or (AK, ID, OR, WA) (800) 533-3508 1200 6th Avenue Seattle, WA 98101 U.S. EPA REGION 7 (206) 553-1352 or (IA, KS, MO, NE) (800) 424-4372 901 North 5th Street Kansas City, KS 66101 (913) 551-7003 or (800) 223-0425 14
  18. 18. National Response Center Hotline: 1-800-424-8802 RCRA/Superfund Information Hotline: 1-800-535-0202 15
  19. 19. Printed on Recycled Paper