EPA touts Superfund cleanups actually finished years ago

EPA touts Superfund cleanups actually finished years ago
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) boasted this week about removing from its contaminated Superfund list sites whose cleanups were actually completed years ago.

An Associated Press analysis found that all seven of the sites that were partially or fully removed in 2017 were cleaned up before EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies EPA rule proposes to expand limitations on scientific studies Overnight Energy: Fight between EPA watchdog, agency lawyers heats up | Top EPA official under investigation over document destruction | DOJ issues subpoenas to automakers in California emissions pact MORE took over the agency last year. But Pruitt sought to link the deletions to his work to expedite Superfund cleanups and prioritize the program.

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“We have made it a priority to get these sites cleaned up faster and in the right way,” he said in a statement at the time, adding, “The Superfund program is carrying out the agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment more every day.”

Superfund cleanups can take decades, and some of the sites taken off of the list had their work started in the 1980s.

There is often a delay in removing sites from the Superfund list due to administrative actions and pollution monitoring that must take place after work is complete, AP said.

Furthermore, the AP found that the pace of deletions by the Trump administration is, on average, slower than predecessors thus far.

The EPA took an average of more than 10 sites off the list during the Obama administration, including 11 in its first year. The Bush administration average was almost 18 and 30 in the first year, the AP found.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox defended Pruitt’s work.

“In 2016, President Obama’s EPA cleaned up two Superfund sites, but rather than cherry-pick individual years, it would only be fair to judge us upon the completion of our tenure,” he told AP. “Under Administrator Pruitt’s leadership, we’ve completed the cleanup of seven toxic land sites and this is just the beginning.”

The AP said the EPA did not respond to questions regarding steps the agency took under Pruitt to remove Superfund sites faster.