U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced on Monday in Chattanooga, the completion of the Superfund Task Force and issued the Task Force’s final report outlining significant accomplishments over the past two years at Superfund sites across the country. The announcement, made from the Southside Chattanooga Superfund Site, included plans for integrating the work of the Task Force into EPA’s ongoing cleanup work moving forward.
“Thanks to the hard work of EPA career officials, the Superfund Task Force has strengthened the program in numerous ways, from accelerating cleanups to promoting redevelopment to improving community engagement,” said Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The recommendations generated by the Task Force and applied by the Superfund program have directly improved the health and economic opportunity of thousands of people living near Superfund sites. We are taking concrete steps to ensure that the work of the Task Force continues to enhance the Superfund program moving forward.”
“The Southside Chattanooga Superfund site is a leading example of the success of the Superfund Task Force,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Cleanup efforts here reflect our commitment to addressing Superfund sites as quickly and safely as possible, improving both environmental and economic prospects for our citizens.”
“We applaud EPA for its continued efforts to help clean up and restore historically contaminated sites through the Superfund program,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner David Salyers. “The Southside Chattanooga Superfund site is a place where federal, state and local partners came together in response to circumstances that required thoughtful community action and cleanup. It is a fitting backdrop for today’s announcement.”
“The Southside Superfund site is the perfect location to welcome Administrator Wheeler and highlight the positive impact of the Superfund Task Force,” said Congressman Chuck Fleischmann. “The EPA’s ongoing success in Chattanooga is a testament to their ability to deploy Superfund resources to remediate contaminated sites, protect the health and well-being of our communities, and revitalize previously underutilized hubs of economic potential. I am thankful that Southside was added to the National Priorities List and that EPA officials continue to prioritize the safety of area residents. As East Tennessee expands and attracts further economic investments, I thank Administrator Wheeler and the expertise of EPA officials for the work they have done to advance the prosperity of our region.”
The majority of the Southside Chattanooga Superfund Site is designated as a federal Opportunity Zone – a powerful tool that can provide tax incentives for long-term private sector investment in economically distressed communities. Created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones present a significant opportunity to leverage public and private sector investments in ways that drive economic growth and support community revitalization. As part of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, EPA is working with federal partners to identify ways to better target, streamline and coordinate federal programs at the local level. Together, federal agencies have already identified more than 160 federal programs that can increase targeting of resources to Opportunity Zones.
Commissioned in May 2017 to provide recommendations on how EPA could streamline and improve the Superfund Program, the Task Force issued its initial report in July 2017 with 42 recommendations in five goal areas. Based on the collective experience of EPA’s career staff and others, the recommendations offered important suggestions for improving the program and expediting site cleanups through remediation and back to productive use. By implementing the recommendations over the past two years, the Task Force has helped to provide certainty to communities, states, tribes and developers that the nation’s most hazardous sites will be cleaned up as quickly and safely as possible.
The work of the Task Force will continue under the Superfund Program and at all sites on the National Priorities List (NPL). The agency will continue to prioritize expediting cleanups to protect people’s health and the environment. Moving forward, the agency plans to:
- Conduct a strategic and comprehensive portfolio review of every site remaining on the NPL to enable EPA to better utilize the Task Force’s tools and lessons learned in advancing cleanups across the country.
- Continue to identify and implement new opportunities and approaches to improve the program’s performance and effectiveness.
More information on EPA’s Superfund Task Force and the final Superfund Task Force Report can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-recommendations-and-accomplishments