Cleanup

Field Trip to Camden, NJ

By Carsen Mata

Tour visits the Puchack Well Field site.

Tour visits the Puchack Well Field site.

My walk to the office on Monday morning was quite different compared to most days. My stride longer, my pace faster, today I was going on a field trip! This wasn’t just any old field trip by the way, this was a two-hour trek from New York City down to Camden, New Jersey. The field trip crew that I accompanied consisted of a few seasoned EPA Region 2 staff members, our Regional Administrator Judith Enck, and Congressman Norcross of District One. The day’s itinerary had us hopping from one event to the next, guaranteeing an eventful day. First up – the Puchack Well Field site in Pennsauken, NJ. Upon arrival we were greeted by John Gorin, the remedial project manager for the site. John is the go-to guy for all things Puchack, especially when it comes to the ins and outs of the cleanup process.

The coolest part of the morning was seeing the site in full operation mode. This was surely the perfect time for a visit. Cranes and sifters were at work, soil from one area was being transported to another, and misters above the site gates were spraying the perimeter of the work zone. When everyone arrived John ran us through a brief overview of the work being done and the potential action items to come. After a short announcement and photo-op for the press we headed over to the next event at the Ray and Joan Kroc Salvation Army Center in Camden.

EPA’s John Gorin explains the cleanup plans.

EPA’s John Gorin explains the cleanup plans.

It was here that we met the Director of Economic Development for Camden, Jim Harveson, who excitedly joined Judith and Congressman Norcross in announcing that the Camden Brownfields program was receiving nearly $1 million in EPA grants. This package of grants will go towards the cleanup efforts at sites in Camden like the Harrison Avenue landfill and the former warehouse, experimental lab, and toy assembly plant at East State Street.

The press event was held outdoors with the recently constructed ball fields and playground of the Salvation Army Center serving as a beautiful backdrop. All of the event’s speakers were wonderful but Congressman Norcross, a Camden native, stepped up to the podium to address the media with a sentimental message. He reminisced about what this space once looked like and what the development of sites like these meant to the people that live there. It is clear that these grants represent much more than funding for various development projects. They symbolize the perseverance of a community that has been burdened by decades of industrial pollution. After many trying years, this area and its residents are on their way to environmental and economic success, something every community deserves.

Jim Harveson concluded the event by inviting everyone that attended back in two years. By then, he hopes the site will feature a waterfront park as well as a field of solar panels to power the center. For now, they’re taking it one site at a time, making every grant dollar count.

To finish off our day we visited a portion of the Welsbach & General Gas Mantle Superfund site in Gloucester City, just fifteen minutes south of Camden. Although a great deal of the cleanup work has already been completed, this particular area has soil and building surfaces that are still contaminated by radioactive waste. It is also situated on one of the busiest port facilities in the region, making it uniquely complex for all parties involved in the cleanup. We were joined by Rick Robinson, the remedial project manager of the site and Leo Holt – president of Holt Logistics, the owner and operator of the port, for a short bus tour around the property.

Judith Enck addresses the crowd.

Judith Enck addresses the crowd.

As soon as we witnessed cleanup and port activity occurring simultaneously, we understood the complexities of the site on a deeper level. Humongous containers filled with fruits and vegetables from all over the world were being transported by even bigger pieces of construction machinery. On the other side of the property EPA cleanup activities were being completed. I suddenly wondered, “all this activity AND an EPA cleanup? At the same time?” I’ve never felt so small in my life! Seeing the port in action and learning about the cleanup from such experienced staff solidified the fact that the EPA will stop at nothing to protect human health and the environment!

I think it’s safe to say this might be one of the best field trips I’ve ever been on.

About the Author: Carsen Mata is an intern for the EPA Region 2 Public Affairs Division.  She currently resides in Jersey City, NJ and is a graduate of Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT.  She is entering her last semester of graduate school at Fairfield University and will be receiving her Master of Public Administration in December 2015.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Preparing Communities for Climate Change

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy barreled into our city of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Damage was significant, and many of our neediest residents lost everything they had. Immediately after that devastating event, our community began the long process of cleanup and recovery.  With assistance from federal and state agencies and through the concerted efforts of local businesses, civic groups, and our citizens, Bridgeport has not just recovered from that event; Bridgeport has taken steps to create a brighter, more resilient future.

As one might expect, that experience has taught us important lessons.  One of those is the need to look ahead to try and anticipate and prepare for whatever the future may bring.  And that includes a changing climate.  Today, Bridgeport is taking action that can help us continue to thrive even as the climate changes.  For example, our BGreen2020 Initiative outlines policies and actions to improve the quality of life, social equity, and economic competitiveness of the city, while reducing carbon emissions and increasing the community’s resilience to the effects of climate change.

New EPA training opportunities can help other communities prepare for a changing climate.   The Climate Adaptation Training Module for Local Governments shows how climate change will likely affect a variety of local environmental and public health protection programs.  The training module also communicates what some cities and towns across America are already doing to prepare.

This new training doesn’t promise all the answers we may need to address the impacts of climate change. But it does provide a host of valuable information that can help start a process – and conversation – that could be invaluable to the future welfare of your community. I would encourage all local officials and their staff to check it out. I think you will find that it was a wise investment of your time, one that can help you meet your responsibilities and protect many more investments that lie in and around your community.

About the author:  Hon. Bill Finch was first elected as Mayor of the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut in 2007.  He serves on the EPA Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) and chairs the LGAC’s Climate Change Resiliency and Sustainability Workgroup. Also active with the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), Mayor Finch Co-Chairs the USCM Task Force on Energy Independence and Climate Protection.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Radium Girls: Unlikely Industrial Pioneers

By Trish Taylor

I grew up in a small town and the thought of someday working for the federal government never crossed my mind as a kid. And Superfund? What’s that? Superfund cleanups were something that happened other places. Not Bloomsburg, Pa. Not my hometown. But, I’ve now been with EPA’s Philadelphia office for over 10 years and I’ve learned that that’s exactly where Superfund cleanups happen. There’s even one in my hometown, about 1 ½ miles from my mother’s house, called the Safety Light Corp. Superfund Site.

It turns out, an innocent looking brick building that seems to have been part of the landscape for as long as I can remember, has quite an interesting history linked to it. Ask any nearby neighbor and they’ll tell you that the old U.S. Radium plant has been around for decades. Some of the older neighbors may have even worked there, or have relatives who worked there. It was one of many facilities owned by U.S. Radium Corporation. In Bloomsburg, U.S. Radium turned into Metreal, Inc., which eventually turned into the Safety Light Corporation. But, long-timer locals still just call it the radium plant.

Some of that interesting history was discovered during the Superfund process. Boxes and boxes of old files have been removed from the building as part of the cleanup. Files are dated from the 1940’s, with black and white photos, work products like deck markers, and other gadgets.

It turns out that U.S. Radium workers are famous, or should I say infamous. In the 1920’s, workers who painted the dials were mostly women between the ages of 18 – 30. A handful of these women from the Orange, New Jersey plant became known as the Radium Girls. These five young women changed working safety standards in America for the better. Unfortunately, the change came as a result of their ill health.

RadiumGirls1

It was customary for workers who applied the glow-in-the-dark paint (paint that glowed because it was in fact radioactive!) to use their lips to sharpen the tips of the paintbrushes to get a finer point for more precise application. The radium-activated paint was used on marine deck markers and other dials and gadgets that needed to be read in dark, unlit conditions. That’s where the radioactive component comes in. Exposure to (and in some cases, consumption of) the radium-activated paint resulted in radiation poisoning in many of the workers. Five of the women challenged their employer and filed a lawsuit. Four of the five Radium Girls died of radioactive-related illnesses before their 40th birthdays. The fifth passed away at the age of 51. The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court, but the industry was changed forever. It set precedent for workers to sue for damages caused by labor abuse and industrial safety standards were improved through federal law.

The Radium Girls have a tragic but significant legacy. Their story isn’t just a cautionary tale. It a nationwide-change-to-industry-as-we-knew-it tale. Big time. Not to mention the increased level of public awareness of the dangers associated with radium.

It’s interesting to see that big things can come from seemingly small places. That local plant is a piece of a much bigger story, and every day we’re working at the EPA to ensure that communities like Bloomsburg are protected and stay healthy.

About the author: Trish Taylor is a Community Involvement Coordinator, Hazardous Site Cleanup Division, in EPA’s Philadelphia office.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Largest Superfund Settlement in History Means Cleanups from New Jersey to California

If you pollute the environment, you should be responsible for cleaning it up. This basic principle guides EPA’s Superfund cleanup enforcement program.

We just settled our largest environmental contamination case ever, for nearly $4.4 billion that will help to clean up the communities that were affected.

Here’s some background: Last April, along with the Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, EPA announced a historic cleanup settlement with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. Many years ago, one of Anadarko’s subsidiaries, Kerr-McGee, conducted uranium mining and other activities that involved highly toxic chemicals at sites across the nation. These operations left contamination behind, including radioactive uranium waste across the Navajo Nation; radioactive thorium in Chicago and West Chicago, Illinois; creosote (or tar) waste in the Northeast, the Midwest, and the South; and perchlorate contamination in Nevada. All of these substances can be dangerous to people’s health.

Anadarko tried to skirt its responsibility by transferring the business assets responsible for this contamination into a now-defunct and bankrupt company called Tronox. EPA and DOJ vigorously pursued them – and the result was this new settlement. The nearly $4.4 billion that the company will pay will help to clean up toxic pollution and to turn the contaminated areas back into usable land.

This settlement took effect last week. Here are some ways that its impact will be felt:

  • In Manville, N.J., a coal tar wood treatment facility buried creosote in recreational areas. Funds will be used EPA and the state will get funds to clean up the waste left behind.
  • Not far away in Camden and Gloucester City, N.J., there’s a residential area where two former gas mantle manufacturing sites used to be. They’ve received cleanup assistance already, and this settlement means that more is on the way.
  • Funds are starting to flow to Navajo Nation territory to help clean up drinking water contaminated by radioactive waste from abandoned uranium mines.
  • Low income, minority communities in Jacksonville, Florida; West Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Mississippi; and Navassa, North Carolina are benefiting from the settlement funds to clean up contamination from uranium and thorium, volatile organic compounds, pesticides and PCBs.

Companies that operate in American communities have an obligation to protect nearby residents from harm. That’s why we do enforcement — to protect communities and their health. We make sure that responsible parties are held accountable and pay to clean up the pollution they caused.

Learn more about our enforcement cleanup efforts at Superfund sites across the country, some of which include an enforcement component, in the December 2014 National Geographic Magazine.

Picture resources:
Federal Creosote site pictures: http://epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/federalcreosote/images.html
Welsbach & Gas Mantle site pictures: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/welsbach/images.html
Map of Navajo Nation Abandoned Uranium Mines Superfund Cleanup Sites (larger poster PDF): http://www.epa.gov/region9/superfund/navajo-nation/pdf/CleanupSitesPoster.pdf
smaller image found at http://www.epa.gov/region9/superfund/navajo-nation/abandoned-uranium.html

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Missoula Sawmill Site: Ready for Reuse

By Ted Lanzano

SUNSET#

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On February 19th, after nearly 15 years of environmental work, the Missoula Sawmill property became fully “ready for reuse”.  This long-awaited news from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) brings relief and excitement to the community as redevelopment plans begin to accelerate.  I’ve worked with the city on a number of other Brownfield projects, but it’s a special pleasure to see this one through to completion.

Lying along the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula, Montana, the sawmill operated until the early 1990s.  By the late 1990s, the city and EPA began partnering under a then-new initiative called Brownfields to evaluate the environmental conditions at the site.  Through multiple rounds of sampling the soil and groundwater, we found elevated levels of volatile organic compounds, metals, hydrocarbons, and methane coming from buried wood debris. This landed the former sawmill on Montana’s Comprehensive Environmental Cleanup and Responsibility Act list of sites that pose a risk to human health and the environment.

Given the prime location, and the great opportunities for redevelopment, the city and other local stakeholders were undeterred and moved forward with the environmental cleanup.  The city applied for and received its first EPA Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund grant in 2004, which has now been used to issue a total of $1.8 million in remediation loans. The site also benefitted from an $833,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded Brownfields sub-grant that expedited the cleanup.

While the sawmill cleanup has taken longer than originally anticipated, the city of Missoula, and the multiple stakeholders, agree their perseverance has been worth it.  It’s exciting to see redevelopment at the site already proceeding. In 2013, Missoula completed new street and utility access to the site.  The city acquired the 15-acre riverside portion of the property, and has completed construction of significant portions of a new public park, including bike paths, greenspace, a pavilion, river access, and the use of historic sawmill objects as public art.   On the remaining privately-owned 31 acres, Millsite Revitalization Project, LLP, plans to move forward with mixed retail and housing developments.  I’m looking forward to visiting when I’m in Missoula this summer, and can’t wait to see how the area evolves in the years to come.

About the Author: Ted Lanzano is an EPA Brownfields Project Manager in Denver, Colorado, and has been with the Agency for 10 years. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Changing the Health of a Community – Beyond Land Cleanup

By Mathy Stanislaus

When I went to Omaha, NE last week, I was excited for Superfund’s big announcement: the delisting of over 1,000 residential parcels from the Omaha Lead Superfund site. This was an important milestone in EPA’s overall site cleanup activities, particularly for the residents whose properties were contaminated with toxic lead from the ASARCO smelter cleaned up.

It was also important to the children of the community – our efforts resulted in measurable health improvements: the percentage of children in eastern Omaha with elevated blood lead levels have been reduced from nearly 33 percent before 1998 to less than two percent today.

By reducing blood lead levels, you change people’s lives. You protect a child for his/her entire life and you change the health of a community. As part of one of the largest cleanup projects – particularly in an urban setting – in the Superfund program with over 40,000 largely lower-income residencies, I was very proud to acknowledge the public health impacts from eliminating lead exposure (significant reduction of blood lead levels in children) and the economic benefits of the cleanup.

I spoke with several people when I made the announcement and two really stood out in my mind. One individual explained that what began as basic outreach on public health resulted in a permanent institution in the community to look at children’s health at a multiple of ways that go beyond the lead cleanup.

I also spoke with the person that fields the calls from residents to deal with their issues on a day-to-day basis. They explained how challenging the work can be but understood how EPA can deal with community concerns regarding cleanups and explain how cleanups are done in a way that is protective but also accommodates their lives.

This isn’t easy work. Nor was the cleanup. It was easy to see how challenging these resident-by-resident cleanups were and I’m proud of the work EPA and contractors have done. This cleanup created hundreds of high-paying seasonal jobs and contributed to the development of a skilled labor force with job training funded through an EPA cooperative agreement with the Omaha Metropolitan Community College. Not only are we contributing to improving children’s health, but we’re transforming the community economically.

About the author: Mathy Stanislaus is assistant administrator for EPA’s Office Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Working Together for a Successful Cleanup Leads to Revitalization and Economic Opportunity for a Utah Community

By Craig Boehr

The Midvale Slag Superfund Site, located in Midvale City, Utah, is adjacent to the city’s downtown area and is about twelve miles south of Salt Lake City. Smelters operated on the site from 1871 through 1958, which resulted in the contamination of soil and groundwater with heavy metals. EPA representatives, the Midvale City government, and the site’s owner all worked together to successfully clean up the site and transform the once contaminated property into a thriving multi-use redevelopment project that has revitalized the local economy.

As is often the case, reuse projects that involve liability concerns require creative uses of enforcement tools in order to secure the successful clean up of sites. At Midvale Slag, EPA’s attorneys and project managers negotiated a consent decree with Midvale City and the site’s current owner, which was signed in 2004. The consent decree included innovative provisions that allowed the owner to pay for cleanup and be incrementally reimbursed with money from a special account set up for the site. The account was funded through settlements with responsible parties (those who had contributed to the contamination at the site), and the money could only be used for cleanup purposes. This enforcement approach enabled the site’s owner to clean the site up at a lower cost and laid the groundwork for Midvale City’s vision for future development.

The consent decree also established long-term stewardship principles at the site by clarifying parties’ ongoing cleanup roles and responsibilities, and addressed the concerns of potential future owners by including a section on the bona fide prospective purchaser (BFPP) liability protection. Under Superfund, BFPPs are not liable as an owner/operator for cleanup costs, reducing a potential barrier to future redevelopment at a contaminated site.

Through these efforts, a once stagnant, contaminated property has been transformed into a valuable part of Midvale City. Currently, the site includes:

  • A 95,000-square-foot grocery store,
  • 175,000 square feet of Gold and Silver LEED-certified office space,
  • More than 1,000 completed residential units,
  • A Utah Transit Authority (UTA) light rail station,
  • An 18-acre park with local and regional trails, and
  • 20 acres of open space with a wetland mitigation area.

According to Midvale officials, it is estimated that the cleanup has already resulted in approximately 600 new jobs and about $1.5 million in annual property tax revenues. For more information on how the EPA helped to turn the Midvale Slag site into a community asset, please see our recently-published case study.

About the author: Craig Boehr is an attorney in the Office of Site Remediation Enforcement, which is the enforcement office for the Superfund program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Milwaukee River Valley Feeling Ripples of Summer Youth Restoration Crew

By Karen Mark

Entering my senior year of college, I had the amazing opportunity to intern in the beautifully forested and rolling hills in Brown County State Park in Nashville, Indiana. Turns out my summer internship did more than improve my resume. While I had studied environmental sciences, it was working out in the field that I truly understood the complexity and interconnectedness of ecosystems. I gained in-depth knowledge not found in textbooks as well as the importance of connecting people back to their natural surroundings.

I was enthused to learn about the River Revitalization Foundation’s (RRF) summer youth restoration crew for high school students. RRF is nonprofit land trust in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that establishes parkways for the public to use and enjoy along the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers. It also works to protect, preserve and improve the environmental health of the Milwaukee River Valley.

Similar to my internship, many of the summer youth crew members were urban youth and had not worked in the “great outdoors.” Over the eight weeks of the program, the students learned how to identify native and invasive species, removed invasive species such as burdock, planted native species, and built benches along the river for the public. Additionally, the summer youth crew educates visitors and youth about the history of the river and plant identification by leading hikes along the Beer Line Trail using the “Take-a-Hike” publication. Check out the summer crew’s video on RRF’s website called “A Day in the Life of the RFF Summer Crew” that they created to showcase the various projects and activities they completed.

Kimberly Gleffe, Executive Director of RRF, could not boast enough about the students to me, “This year’s summer crew was a fabulous group! They had a real sense of pride and cared about making a difference in the valley.” By educating the students with conservation knowledge and skills, I am certain that the Milwaukee River Valley will be cared for and maintained for future generations to enjoy.

If you live in the Milwaukee area, to get your hiking shoes on, get a copy of the “Take-a-Hike” publication for a guided tour around the Beer Line Trail and experience the Milwaukee River Valley. While enjoying the beautiful landscape and waterways, be sure to thank RRF and the summer youth crew for all their great work to preserve, protect and improve Milwaukee’s natural areas.

About the author: Karen Mark is a Student Temporary Employment Program intern in the Air and Radiation Division in Region 5. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Environmental Management and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Public Service Management.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Cleaning Up Newtown Creek, New York

Since 1986, I have had the privilege to be one of EPA’s sets of eyes underwater as a member of the EPA Dive Team in Region 10.  With a dry suit, dry gloves, and full face mask, diving safely into urban waters, such as the Lower Duwamish Waterway near Seattle, to coax their secrets for EPA’s programs.  After an intriguing diving “diet” of contaminated sediment to discharging groundwater laden with volatile compounds to thick layers of organic material best described as pudding, in support of EPA’s Superfund, RCRA, and Water Permitting and Compliance Programs, this spring was a propitious time to move my cross-program experience out of the water and along the banks of those waterways.

Although I have spent many hours on and in the Lower Duwamish Waterway, I have been fortunate to be temporarily assigned to work on Urban Waters.  I was recently invited to a boat tour of the Newtown Creek (between Queens and Brooklyn) on the EPA research vessel CleanWater on April 19, 2010. The Creek has been highly modified by urbanization – the wetlands that existed vanished with the rip-rap, bulk heading, infilling, and channelization (much of which similarly occurred along the Lower Duwamish Waterway). Like other urban waters, Newtown Creek is nevertheless fished and kayaked.

riveruse

In the mid 1800s, the area adjacent to Newtown Creek was one of the busiest hubs of industrial activity in New York City. More than 50 industrial facilities were located along its banks, including oil refineries, petrochemical plants, fertilizer and glue factories, sawmills, and lumber and coal yards. The creek was crowded with commercial vessels, including large boats bringing in raw materials and fuel and taking out oil, chemicals and metals. The city later began dumping raw sewage directly into the water in 1856. During World War II, the creek had become one of the busiest ports in the nation. Some factories and facilities still operate along it, and various adjacent contaminated sites have contributed to its degradation.

Today Newtown Creek remains badly polluted. EPA is doing with our programs what we do best. We know now what the contamination is, where it is, and are developing the site-specific understanding and context, that, from my more programmatic view, allow us to move forward and clean up this urban water.

About the author: Dr. Bruce Duncan has been with EPA since 1984, trained as a marine biologist, and serves as senior ecologist in the Office of Environmental Assessment, Region 10, recently stepping down from the Regional dive team after 24 years. He assists with furthering the role of science in decision-making and is currently on a 4-month assignment to the Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization assisting with the Urban Waters.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Seeking Solutions from a New Perspective

photo of site with collection lagoon and large white tanks

About the author: Rob Lawrence joined EPA in 1990 and is Senior Policy Advisor on Energy Issues in the Dallas, TX regional office. As an economist, he works to insure that both supply and demand components are addressed as the Region develops its Clean Energy and Climate Change Strategy.

About 5 years ago, I had the opportunity to change jobs within our Dallas regional office. The Region recognized that we were facing new environmental challenges that did not fit entirely within one media division. Sure, aspects of an issue would be adequately addressed by a traditional media program, but no one had the larger view that included cross-program policies and requirements. In my case, the job was monitoring and coordinating energy issues in Region 6. Almost everyday, I get tasked to look at a situation that is not just about air emissions or water discharges or waste handling concerns. It is usually some of each and other factors like community views and economics thrown in as well.

Rob LawrenceAnd just what happens when no one takes a broader view? A fine example comes from my prior state service in Louisiana. A waste oil recycler had gone bankrupt and abandoned the operations, including a waste lagoon. After a heavy rain, the neighbors became concerned about the lagoon overflowing and the waste oil reaching their properties. The state water division sent inspectors to the site, determined that additional capacity in the lagoon was needed and issued a compliance order to draw down the water. Soon after some of the water was removed, the neighbors complained about odors coming from the lagoon. The state air division sent inspectors, determined that the exposed oily waste in the lagoon was the cause, and issued a compliance order to put water into the lagoon to serve as a cap on the odors. The next day the site manager called to say that he was in a Catch-22 situation: he could not meet the requirements of one compliance order without violating the terms of the other one. Clearly, addressing the particular needs of one program would not really address the broader environmental concerns presented by the site. Both media programs did the right thing from their perspective, but the situation was more complex than that.

More and more of today’s environmental challenges are calling for solutions with a multimedia or cross program perspective. How can we expect to address climate change and similar complex concerns without taking a broad view? We need to make sure that fixing one problem doesn’t lead to unintended consequences. One approach EPA is taking is with its environmental innovations program. Check out our website to learn more about how EPA is facing these issues from a different perspective.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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