EPA removes 22 cleaned-up sites from Superfund list

EPA removes 22 cleaned-up sites from Superfund list
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) removed more sites from its Superfund list in the last fiscal year than any year in more than a decade.

The agency on Wednesday announced that it deleted 18 complete sites and four parts of sites from the Superfund list in fiscal 2018, the most since 2005.

Deletion means that the EPA has formally declared that the contamination has been cleaned and monitoring has confirmed it.

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“Under President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE, EPA is deleting Superfund sites from the National Priorities List at the fastest pace in more than a decade,” acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

“This remarkable accomplishment is proof that cleaning up contaminated lands and returning them to safe and productive use is a top priority of the Trump EPA.”

While Wheeler boasted about the milestone to support the Trump administration’s agenda to put a new emphasis on Superfund cleanups, the cleanups started years or decades ago, and most were completed before President Trump took office.

The Superfund agenda, initially implemented as a top priority by former EPA chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittIs Big Oil feeling the heat? Overnight Energy: EPA delays board's review of 'secret science' rules | Keystone pipeline spill affecting more land than thought | Dems seek probe into Forest Service grants tied to Alaska logging EPA delays advisers' review of 'secret science' rules MORE last year, aimed in part to expedite cleanup actions and remove more sites from the list. More than 1,300 places nationwide are on the list, which gives the EPA authority to order companies to remediate sites or to use federal funding if necessary.

But cleanups take years or longer, and sites often cannot be deleted until extensive monitoring of soil and water shows that they are safe.

For example, the Davis Timber Co. site in Mississippi was recently deleted from the list. But it was first listed in 2000, and cleanup activities took place in 2011 and 2012, funded in part by a jobs initiative from former President Obama.

Another example, the Fulton Terminals site in New York, was cleaned up in stages ending in 1999 and was partially removed from the Superfund list in 2015, but it wasn’t fully removed until this year.

In January, the EPA also touted removing a number of sites from the list despite the cleanups being finished years ago.

An Associated Press analysis found that seven sites that were partially or fully removed in 2017 were cleaned up before then-EPA chief Pruitt had taken over the agency. But Pruitt sought to link the deletions to his work to expedite Superfund cleanups and prioritize the program.