Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its commitment to clean up six new sites- including the Hockessin Groundwater Site in Delaware - by adding them to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). EPA also is proposing to add another three sites to the NPL.
“Cleaning up toxic sites and returning them to safe and productive reuse under the Superfund program is a cornerstone of the EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “By adding these sites to the proposed and final National Priorities List, we are moving forward in creating a healthier environment for the affected communities.”
The NPL is the list of hazardous waste sites in the United States eligible for remedial action financed under the federal Superfund program.
“Superfund cleanup continues to be a priority for EPA,” said EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “Today’s action ensures that resources are available to take the necessary cleanup actions to address the contamination and any potential impacts on the Hockessin community.”
EPA originally proposed the Hockessin site to the NPL on January 18. The designation is now finalized following a 60-day public comment period. EPA’s next step will be to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study to determine the extent of contamination and assess potential threats to human health and the environment. This also includes evaluation of various cleanup options.
The Hockessin site consists of approximately 32 acres along Delaware State Route 41 through Hockessin, and encompasses numerous commercial, business, and residential properties. An EPA assessment has identified considerable movement of PCE contamination in the groundwater in the village of Hockessin.
“The Greater Hockessin Area Development Association (GHADA) and the entire community are pleased to have the Hockessin groundwater site considered for inclusion on the National Priorities List for remediation and environmental recovery efforts,” said GHADA President Mark Blake. “Having the expertise and resources that the Environmental Protection Agency can bring to bear on this critical issue, is the best possible outcome for everyone involved.”
There are two dry cleaners in the area where historical operations may continue to contribute to the groundwater contamination. There may be other sources within the area as well. The Artesian Water Company uses groundwater wells as the primary source of drinking water in this area. The water company treats the contaminated groundwater, and the final processed drinking water meets all regulatory standards.
Academic research has shown that Superfund cleanups reduce birth defects within approximately one mile of a site as much as 25 percent. Cleanups also increase tax revenue and create jobs during and after cleanup. According to EPA data, 487 of the 888 Superfund sites cleaned up for reuse supported approximately 6,600 businesses in 2017. And the ongoing operations at these businesses generate annual sales of $43.6B and employ more than 156,000 people who earned a combined income of $11.2B.
Superfund, which Congress established in 1980, investigates and cleans up hazardous waste sites. The Superfund law directs EPA to update the NPL annually. Only sites added to the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term cleanup. Administrator Pruitt has set the expectation that there will be a renewed focus on accelerating work and progress at all Superfund sites across the country.
EPA adds sites to the NPL when contamination threatens human health and the environment. EPA deletes sites from the NPL once all response actions are complete and all cleanup goals have been achieved. EPA typically initiates Superfund involvement because states, tribes or citizens ask for the Agency’s help. The Agency may also find contamination during its own investigations.
All of the six sites being added to the NPL were included in the most recent proposed rule in January 2018, evidence of the EPA’s commitment to expediting the Superfund process.
The NPL is one focus area of the Superfund Task Force Recommendations that were announced in July 2017 to improve and revitalize the Superfund program.
The Superfund Task Force Recommendations can be viewed at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-recommendations
For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for the final and proposed sites:http://www.epa.gov/superfund/current-npl-updates-new-proposed-npl-sites-and-new-npl-sites
For information about Superfund and the NPL http://www.epa.gov/superfund