The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its Superfund Task Force Recommendations 2018 Update (the Update). The Superfund Task Force was established by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to “provide recommendations on an expedited timeframe on how the agency can restructure the cleanup process, realign incentives of all involved parties to promote expeditious remediation, reduce the burden on cooperating parties, incentivize parties to remediate sites, encourage private investment in cleanups of sites and promote the revitalization of properties across the country.” Over the years, thousands of sites have been listed on EPA’s National Priority List (NPL) of Superfund sites, but the process by which listed sites are cleaned up and finally removed from the NPL has been agonizingly slow. The process is governed by the National Contingency Plan rules. The Update states that, as of July 3, 2018, there are 1,346 sites listed on the NPL, and overall, 399 sites have been removed from the NPL.
Has the work of the Task Force resulted in more sites being deleted than before? Can it simply be a coincidence that, during a month-long period (July 2—August 12, 2018), twenty separate EPA Federal Register notices were published relating to Superfund settlements and specific Superfund site deletions. NPL deletions are being proposed, in whole or in part, for such sites as the Ector Drum site (Texas), the Whitehouse Oil Pits site (Florida), the Davis Timber Company site (Mississippi), the Old Esco Manufacturing site (Texas), the Eureka Mills site (Utah), the Union Chemical site (Maine), and the Reasor Chemical Company site (North Carolina). Obviously, EPA is moving ahead where it can.