By Cyndy Mackey
December 2015 marked the 35th Anniversary of the Superfund program, the federal government’s most successful program designed to clean up the nation’s contaminated land and water and respond to environmental emergencies. I oversee EPA’s Superfund enforcement program, which focuses on cleaning up neighborhoods, ensuring that the polluter pays, and protecting human health and the environment.
The past 35 years have brought significant changes to Superfund through congressional amendments, changes to perspective through reauthorization discussions, and interpretations from the judicial system. Not only has the law changed, but technology has, too.
I am proud to have dedicated my career to cleaning up contaminated sites, and my goal in my current role is to support EPA’s work to find responsible parties and make sure that polluters pay for the cost of cleanups instead the American taxpayers.
For every dollar spent by the Superfund enforcement program, private parties commit to spending eight dollars toward cleanup work leading to restoration of land and water, facilitating reuse and revitalization, and protecting communities. Since the program inception, EPA has secured over $35.1 billion in private party commitments and over $6.9 billion to recover past cleanup costs. EPA has been instrumental in helping to get the responsible parties to pay for cleanup of sites across the country. For example:
- A 2006 enforcement agreement with General Electric resulted in a $2.7 billion cleanup of contaminated sediment and 300,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) being removed from the Hudson River riverbed. The dredging of the Hudson River PCB Superfund Site was completed in October 2015.
- A 2014 settlement to resolve fraudulent conveyance charges against Anadarko and Kerr-McGee associated with the Tronox bankruptcy means $1.9 billion will go toward cleanup of contaminated Superfund sites across the country.
- A 2009 agreement required $975 million for the cleanup of contamination at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee. This agreement facilitates the cleanup of 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash waste impacting the Emory River and adjacent land.
- In 2007, EPA collected more than $124 million from Hercules Incorporated to recover costs for the Agency’s cleanup work at the Vertac Chemical and Jackson Landfill Superfund Sites in Jacksonville, Arkansas.
EPA’s Superfund enforcement program is strong and is committed to finding new solutions as we address new sites, industrial processes, and hazardous substances to ensure human health and the environment are protected in communities across the country.
About the author: Cyndy Mackey oversee EPA’s Superfund enforcement program, which focuses on cleaning up neighborhoods, ensuring that the polluter pays, and protecting human health and the environment.