EPA to pursue follow-up studies of remediated sites

April 1, 2014

The remediation of a Superfund site is often hailed as a monumental achievement, and for good reason. When stakeholders band together to cleanup contaminated land, they allow for the possibility of future development that will lead to more viable neighborhoods and a stronger economy—without placing the environment at risk.

However, it should be noted that success against contamination often takes time. Sometimes, sites that appear to have been cleaned thoroughly still retain remnants of harmful pollution. That's why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) follows a policy of continuously evaluating previously cleaned Superfund sites.

According to a recent press release by the agency, ten sites located in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas will receive five-year reviews that will check to see if cleanup has worked as intended while also addressing any underlying issues that remain. Here are some of the sites being looked into:

  • South 8th Street Landfill, West Memphis, Arkansas: This parcel of land, which sits right next to the Mississippi River, has been off the Superfund National Priorities list since 2004. Once home to a highly corrosive "oily sludge pit," according to the EPA, the site has since been cleaned and the waste has been contained, to the point where it no longer poses a risk to the river or nearby residents. Still, since much of the waste does remain on site, the most recent five-year review will monitor redevelopment of the land to ensure that no harmful leaks occur.
  • Central Wood Superfund Site, East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana: Once the home of the Central Creosoting Company, Inc., this site spent years being contaminated by chemicals related to the wood preserving industry. For a time, this area was rural enough that its remediation was a low priority, though work was finally done to remove surface soil and the contents of tanks located on the site. However, as new residents move in, the purpose of the upcoming review is to determine whether a comprehensive remediation plan will be necessary to remove any instances of contamination that remain.
  • Mosley Road Sanitary Landfill Site, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma: This landfill reached its capacity in 1987 and received a clay cover in 1988. However, during the years that it was active it still received industrial hazardous wastes that were deposited into unlined, on-site pits, where it was only too easy for contaminates to leach into surrounding groundwater. Remediation was conducted in 2004 in response to Benzene and other chemicals that were found in groundwater. Subsequent studies determined that this appeared to be effective.

As history shows us, it is perfectly possible for initial remediation efforts to miss something important the first time around. As new residences pop up in former rural areas that contain sites that were once contaminated, it is even more crucial that stakeholders guarantee that they are safe. By working with environmental consultants, they can resolve these issues.