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PR EPA ADMIN. CITES 400TH SUPERFUND CLEANUP NEAR ERIE, PA.

Release Date: 10/15/96
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PR EPA ADMIN. CITES 400TH SUPERFUND CLEANUP NEAR ERIE, PA.

FOR RELEASE: TUESDAY, OCT. 15, 1996

EPA ADMINISTRATOR CITES 400th SUPERFUND CLEANUP NEAR ERIE, PA., AS SIGN OF PROGRESS IN SPEEDING CLEANUPS

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol M. Browner today visited the Lord-Shope Landfill in Girard Township, outside Erie, Pa., to mark the 400th completion of a Superfund toxic waste site cleanup. Browner cited this benchmark as "evidence that this Administration is achieving our goal to speed cleanup of the nation's worst toxic waste sites."
In the 1992 fiscal year, EPA set a goal of 395 toxic waste cleanup or construction completions by the end of the 1996 fiscal year. EPA has exceeded that goal, announcing the 400th cleanup today and accomplishing a total of 410 cleanups through the end of FY96, which ended on Sept. 30.

"This community is an example of the many communities across the country that have been waiting too many years to have their toxic waste sites cleaned up," Browner said. "Because of our efforts over the past three-and-a-half years to make the Superfund program faster, fairer and more efficient, American families in more communities like Girard Township are seeing toxic waste removed from their neighborhoods faster."

The 400th cleanup under Superfund -- the national effort to clean up toxic waste sites -- means that more than 25 percent of the worst toxic waste sites in the United States have been cleaned up to protect public health and the environment in communities across the nation. EPA estimates that 70 million Americans -- including more than 10 million children -- live within four miles of a toxic waste site.

Browner noted that, under this Administration's reforms of Superfund, EPA has:

    Set a record pace for cleaning up toxic waste dumps, cleaning up more toxic waste sites in the past three-and-a-half years than were completed in the previous 12 years of the Superfund program;
    Provided up to $200,000 each to 76 communities to return lightly contaminated sites to productive community use under the Administration's Brownfields Action Agenda and removed more than 27,000 sites from the Superfund list, clearing the way for redevelopment and economic revitalization in cities and towns across the nation;
    Shielded 20,000 parties, including many small businesses and individuals, who were unfairly caught up in the Superfund liability net; and
    Reduced lawsuits to further speed cleanups, by reducing by more than $55 million the amount that responsible companies pay for cleanup that is attributable to insolvent or defunct parties -- the "orphan share." This reform is speeding cleanups by encouraging parties to clean up the sites rather than litigate over who should bear the cost of cleanup.
    Ensured more effective community involvement in cleanup decisions by putting in place special ombudsmen for the public in each of EPA's 10 regional offices to ensure that cleanups meet the concerns of stakeholders and citizens in the communities where toxic waste sites are located.
The Lord-Shope Landfill toxic waste site operated as an industrial landfill between 1959 and 1979. Wastes deposited in the landfill included debris as well as rubber scrap, organic and inorganic chemicals, solvents, and cooling acids and caustic agents that resulted in groundwater contamination. Through a consent decree, the Lord Chemical Corp. -- which was responsible for the contamination -- took responsibility for the cleanup, which used innovative technology to remove soil and groundwater contamination. Lord Chemical Corp has paid an estimated $5.76 million to date to clean up the site.

"This 400th cleanup shows that we have delivered on our pledge to dramatically accelerate the pace of toxic waste cleanups," Browner said. "The President has committed to continuing that record of progress, by doubling the pace of cleanups so that two-thirds of the worst sites will be done by the year 2000."

Browner said, "While we have achieved important progress in improving the Superfund program through these administrative reforms, we need a new Superfund law to continue that progress. We urge Congress to work with the Administration in a bipartisan way to fix the Superfund law, to further speed the pace of cleanup, give communities a greater voice in the cleanup process and continue to hold polluters accountable for the damage they have done."

R-144 ###