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In The News: Where Cleanups Resume, Everyone Wins

Hey, readers! It’s that time of the week again which means it’s time for your weekly blog blurb update on environmental news. This week’s blurb highlights three articles from last week – two involving the EPA directly – you may have otherwise overlooked due to media coverage of other headlines. We here at ecoSPEARS reiterate how important it is to highlight news where ecosystems and communities win, no matter how big or small, and each of the three articles we’re covering today are wins worth celebrating. Now…on with the news!

Our first article comes directly from the US EPA. With so many sites in the United States waiting to be added to or removed from the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL), the process of adding or removing one is a lengthy, costly, and exhaustive process. Last Tuesday, EPA announced it would be adding a site in San Antonio, TX to the NPL this year: the former River City Metal Finishing site. The site was operated from 1994-2002 as a metal plating shop and has been found to house contamination in surrounding soil and groundwater from, “cyanide, lead, cadmium, and copper.”

The former River City Metal Finishing site in San Antonio was added to the NPL Superfund list last week.

The site is in close proximity to the San Antonio Edwards Aquifer, and adding the site to the EPA’s NPL will allow for expedited solutions to remediate the site in order to prevent contamination of San Antonio drinking water due to heavy metals. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt commented on the site’s addition to the NPL, saying, “cleaning up toxic sites and returning them to safe and productive reuse under the Superfund program is a cornerstone of the EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment.”

Along with this site are five more being added to the NPL including: Hockessin Groundwater in Hockessin, DE; Burling Industries Cheraw in Cheraw, South Carolina; Franklin Street Groundwater Contamination in Spencer, IN; Spring Park Municipal Well Field in Spring Park, MN, and Lane Plating Works, Inc. in Dallas, TX.

Three more sites are currently under proposal to be added to the Superfund NPL including: PROTECO in Penuelas, Puerto Rico; Donnelsville Contaminated Aquifer in Donnelsville, OH, and Delfasco Forge in Grand Prairie, TX.

Regular readers will already be familiar with aspects of today’s second article. Last Monday, EPA announced attorney John Bickerman – chosen by an agreement between EPA and GE – will begin his process as mediator between EPA, GE, and challengers to EPA’s cleanup permit regarding GE’s next stages of cleanup at the Housatonic River in Massachusetts. If the parties involved are unable to reach a mutual agreement, it will become likely that the permit in question – which governs “dredging and disposal of soil and sediments contaminated by PCBs” – will be challenged in federal court. The latter possibility is one that EPA has said they wish to avoid to prevent further delay in cleanup of the Housatonic.

A warning sign at Rising Pond, part of the Housatonic River Watershed.

The next round of mediation comes after GE, who is liable for PCBs in the Housatonic from an old operating plant in Pittsfield, MA, said earlier this year they would be open to mediation if an agreement could not be reached to avoid the costs of off-site disposal between the corporation, EPA, and local officials. MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Richard Neal sent EPA a letter last February urging to agency to push for off-site disposal of GE’s PCBs in order to prevent the future and further spread of toxicity into communities and environments around the Housatonic. While these current measures may appear as minimal to residents of Pittsfield, the possibility of off-site disposal – despite the length of time the fight may take – is one few are willing to give up on.

Concluding with our final article of the week, cleanup preparation of the St. Lawrence River in Massena, NY is set to resume this month by Arconic, Inc. Arconic – formerly known as Alcoa – is set to once again operate on facility construction “to support dredging and capping operations as part of the $243 million project to remove [PCBs] from the river.” Oversight to the project is being provided by US EPA, NYDEC, as well as the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe which has ancestral ties to land in the area. Arconic is also reported to have expanded the capacity of its on-site landfill where dredged sediment and other contaminated media will be stored during the cleanup process.

Aerial view of a portion of the Grasse River in Massena, NY

Arconic is expected to dredge some 109,000 cubic yards of sediment along the river’s shores, as well as to place a cap over an estimated 284 total acres of river sediment – 59 of which will be with an armored cap. The next public information meeting on the project is expected to be held next month in Akwesasne with periodic monthly meetings during the construction process.

And that’s all we have for you this week, readers! Please be sure to check back again next week for another blurb of environmental news, as well as later this week for our next blog post on contamination in the Great Lakes, and how it affects agriculture and food all over the US and Canada. Until next time, remember that every great solution always begins with you!

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For more information on the organizations and agencies mentioned here, please click the following links:


Superfund NPL

Housatonic Riverkeeper


St. Regis Mohawk Tribe

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