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PR 20 NEW REFORMS CAP TWO YEAR EFFORT TO REFORM SUPERFUND

Release Date: 10/02/95
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PR 20 NEW REFORMS CAP TWO YEAR EFFORT TO REFORM SUPERFUND

MONDAY, OCTOBER 2, 1995

20 NEW REFORMS CAP TWO-YEAR EFFORT TO REFORM SUPERFUND; EPA ADMINISTRATOR CALLS FOR LEGISLATIVE CHANGES

Twenty new "common sense" administrative reforms to the Superfun= d toxic=20
waste cleanup program were announced today by U.S. Environmental Pr= otection=20
Agency Administrator Carol M. Browner, culminating the Clinton Admini= stration's=20
two-year effort to fundamentally redirect Superfund to make it faster= , fairer=20
and more efficient. Browner called on Congress to complete the refor= m of =20
Superfund through legislative changes, noting that these administrati= ve=20
improvements represent the final changes that can be made without new= =20
reauthorizing legislation.
Today's reforms -- the third round of Clinton Administration ref= orms --=20
intend to assist state and local governments, communities, and indust= ries=20
involved in Superfund cleanups to more easily: 1) make cost-effective= cleanup=20
choices that protect public health and the environment; 2) reduce lit= igation so=20
more time can be spent on cleanup and less on lawyers; and 3) help co= mmunities=20
become more informed and involved so that cleanup decisions make the = most sense=20
at the community level.=20

"The Clinton Administration believes that Superfund is broken an= d needs to=20
be fixed -- that's why we've worked for two years on administrative r= eforms to=20
make Superfund faster, fairer and more efficient," Browner said. "Bu= t=20
administrative reforms can only do so much. Ultimately, Congress mus= t change=20
the law if we are to protect public health and the environment for th= e one in=20
four Americans who live near a toxic waste dump."

Browner added, "We believe Congressional reforms must include th= ree=20
principles: First, polluters, not taxpayers, must pay for cleanup. S= econd, we=20
must speed cleanups and lower costs to return more property to commun= ities for=20
their productive use. And third, communities should have a role in s= electing=20
cleanup plans that protect public health and make economic and enviro= nmental=20
sense."

Some of the new reforms will aim to control costs while protecti= ng public=20
health by assuring more consistency, streamline processes to save tim= e and=20
money, create new choices for cost-effective cleanup options, and enc= ourage=20
economic redevelopment. Among these reforms will be the establishmen= t of cost-
effectiveness "rules of thumb" and an EPA National Remedy Review Boar= d that will=20
ensure costs are appropriate to cleanup needs; setting criteria for r= eopening=20
remedy decisions at select sites where new and better science will ac= hieve the=20
same level of protection with potential cost savings; directives to e= nsure=20
rigorous attention to costs in the development of cleanup options and= remedy=20
selection; and national risk-based priority setting to select sites f= or funding=20
based on the principle of cleanup of "worst sites first."

The cost-effectiveness reforms also include specific efforts to = ensure=20
appropriate health protection in the decisionmaking process, through = involving=20
=0C=00
stakeholders in designing accurate, site-specific risk assessments. T=

    make=20
    Superfund sites more attractive for economic redevelopment, the refo= rms include=20
    an effort to pilot the deletion of "clean" parcels of Superfund sites= and=20
    establishing guidance to ensure that all cleanup actions are consider= ed when=20
    listing sites on the Superfund National Priorities List -- which is e= xpected to=20
    keep some sites off the list, a factor that will help make them more = attractive=20
    for redevelopment.
Reforms that aim to reduce litigation and reduce both costs and = conflict=20
delays include efforts to increase fairness in the enforcement proces= s by=20
compensating settling parties for a portion of the "orphan shares," o= r cleanup=20
costs that are attributable to insolvent parties; and efforts to redu= ce=20
transaction costs by doubling the number of "small party" entities --= typically=20
small businesses and individuals whose contribution to pollution at S= uperfund=20
sites is small -- who are protected from lawsuits. To provide a posi= tive=20
incentive to reduce litigation, EPA also will reward cooperative part= ies at=20
sites that consistently perform high quality work by significantly re= ducing EPA=20
oversight.

A third set of reforms aims to provide more and better informati= on and=20
opportunities for involvement to citizens, state and local government= s, and=20
industry in cleanup decisions, to encourage responsible cleanup choic= es that=20
reflect local needs and preferences. Among these reforms will be eff= orts to=20
establish greater roles for states and tribes in remedy selection; pr= oviding=20
clearer information on remedy selection decisions through simple summ= ary sheets;=20
promoting pilot efforts to create consensus on cleanup options in com= munities;=20
and providing forums for stakeholder concerns by establishing an ombu= dsman in=20
each Region to help resolve stakeholder concerns and increasing use o= f tools=20
such as electronic bulletin boards to improve communications among st= akeholders.

As a followup to previously announced reforms, EPA also has issu= ed a new=20
policy that adopts as guidance the provisions of the lender liability= rule; and=20
issued model de minimis settlement agreements designed to further str= eamline the=20
de minimis settlement process.

R-178 =09 # # # =20

NEW COMMON-SENSE REFORMS MAKE SUPERFUND PROGRAM=20 FASTER, FAIRER AND MORE EFFICIENT

Continuing its commitment to make the Superfund program faster, faire= r and more efficient for the one in four Americans who live=20 near a toxic waste site, the Clinton Administration is announcing a p= ackage of 20 new, common-sense administrative reforms. These=20 reforms culminate the Clinton Administration's EPA's two-year effort = to fundamentally redirect the Superfund program under the=20 current law. These new reforms will help governments, communities an= d industry in three important ways:
    1. Make common-sense, cost-effective cleanup choices that protect pub= lic health and the environment. Lowering the costs of cleanup=20 makes both economic and environmental sense for communities, state an= d local governments, and businesses involved in cleanup=20 settlements. The new reforms will assure consistency; streamline proc= esses to save time and money; create new opportunities for=20 choosing cost-effective cleanup options; and do more to protect publi= c health and encourage economic redevelopment, including plans=20 to: =B7 Control Remedy Costs and Promote Cost-Effectiveness by establi= shing cost-effectiveness "rules of thumb" and establishing an=20 EPA National Remedy Review Board to ensure that costs are approp= riate to the cleanup needs; revisiting remedy decisions at=20 select sites where new and better science will achieve the same = level of protection, with potential cost savings; issuing=20 directives to ensure rigorous attention to costs in developing c= leanup options and selecting remedies; and promoting=20 consistent use of the most up-to-date policies and guidance to a= ssure cost effectiveness.

    =0C=00
    =B7 Ensure Risk Assessments are Grounded in Reality by soliciting = stakeholder input in designing accurate, consistent sitespecific assessments, including reasonable exposure pathways, an= d reaffirming EPA's commitment to allow parties at a site=20 to perform risk assessments under the proper circumstances.

    =B7 Conduct National Risk-Based Priority Setting by establishing f= ormal priority-setting systems for funding federal facility=20 and Superfund cleanups based on the principle of "worst sites fi= rst," and involving States and other stakeholders in=20 setting those priorities; and issuing guidance to promote risk-b= ased priority setting in determining federal facility=20 cleanup milestones.

    =B7 Reform Listing and Deletion Policies by piloting the deletion= of "clean" parcels of certain Superfund sites; and=20 establishing guidance to ensure that all cleanup actions that ha= ve been taken up to the time of a listing decision are=20 considered when listing sites on the Superfund National Prioriti= es List -- with the result that some sites will not warrant=20 listing, helping to make them more attractive for redevelopment.

    2) Reduce litigation through reforms so that more time is spent on cl= eanups and less on lawyers. In thousands of communities,=20 toxic waste cleanups have prompted litigation as some of those respon= sible for pollution at a site have sued or threatened to sue=20 many small businesses and individual citizens over even the smallest = possibility of involvement. In other cases, responsible=20 parties argue over "orphan shares" of responsibility -- cleanup oblig= ations of companies responsible for past pollution who are=20 insolvent. The new reforms will expedite cleanups by providing solut= ions to these and other common conflicts, including=20 commitments to:

    =B7 Increase Fairness in the Enforcement Process by compensating s= ettling parties for a portion of "orphan shares," the costs=20 that are attributable to insolvent parties; ensuring that settle= ment funds are dedicated to specific sites by placing them=20 in site-specific accounts; and, where settlement can't be reache= d, working with regions to ensure that cleanup orders are=20 issued to all appropriate parties (but not to parties whose cont= ribution to the pollution at the site is small -- de=20 minimis and de micromis parties) where there is a sufficient bas= is to direct them to conduct a cleanup.

    =B7 Reduce Transaction Costs by adopting private party cost alloca= tions, including those identifying an orphan share, as the=20 basis for a settlement after EPA review and approval; increasing= by thousands the number of parties who contribute very=20 small volumes of waste that will be protected -- at a minimum, d= oubling the level previously identified for small party=20 protection; and rewarding cooperative parties at sites that cons= istently perform high quality work by significantly=20 reducing EPA oversight.

    3) Help governments, communities, and industry become more informed= and involved so that cleanup decisions make the most sense at=20 the community level. EPA is committed to making Superfund work bette= r for the communities that rely on it to cleanup the toxic=20 waste sites threatening their public health and economic well-being. = A lack of good information about site conditions and cleanup=20 options has often led to cynicism and distrust of the Superfund progr= am. These reforms will harness the power of information to=20 take full advantage of the willingness of all involved at a site to a= rrive at responsible cleanup decisions.

    =B7 Establish Greater State/Tribal Role in Remedy Selection by imp= lementing a process allowing States and Tribes (at Tribal=20 sites) to select remedies at certain Superfund sites, consistent= with applicable law and regulations governing cleanups.

    =B7 Provide Clear Information on Remedy Selection Decisions throug= h a simple summary sheet explaining the cleanup plan and the=20 relationship between risk, cost, and other tradeoffs that were b= alanced in selecting a remedy from among the available=20 options.

    =B7 Promote Consensus in Choosing Cleanup Options by developing an= d initiating pilot projects in which EPA empowers and assists=20 citizens, PRPs, and other stakeholders in devising a mutually ac= ceptable, protective cleanup plan.

    =B7 Provide a Meaningful Forum for Stakeholder Concerns by establi= shing an Ombudsman in each Region to facilitate resolution of=20 stakeholder concerns at the Regional level; and using tools such= as electronic bulletin boards and grants to private and=20 educational institutions to improve communication among all Supe= rfund stakeholders.