EPA Recently Released the Newest NPL List – Are You on It?

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EPA Recently Released the Newest NPL List – Are You on It?

Did you receive a general notice letter (GNL) this week?  If not, you still could.  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the new National Priorities List (NPL) sites in December 2013 (http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm) and 17 sites were added to the list.

EPA is responsible for proposing and designating sites on the NPL in accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The NPL is primarily used as an information tool to notify the government and the public about sites or releases in need of remedial actions.

Once a site is designated on the NPL, EPA negotiates consent orders with potentially responsible parties (PRPs) as a means to finance and remediate the site with EPA oversight and approvals.

If you receive a GNL, Special Notice letter, or a CERCLA Section 104(e) Information Request from the EPA, you have likely been indicated in EPA’s initial search as a PRP at a site.

What does it mean for you?

There is a process and consequences for not addressing these notifications in a timely manner may severely limit your ability to work with the Agencies and other parties to negotiate a settlement agreement, thereby being forced to address the site under a unilateral order.

This client alert provides an update on NPL sites proposed and designated as of December 13, 2013.  The following information provides:

  • Background about how NPL sites are identified, listed, and removed;
  • A current list of proposed and designated NPL sites;
  • An overview of the notification process; and
  • Options for assistance in managing a PRP Group associated with an NPL listing.

 

EPA released latest Proposed and Final NPL Sites

CERCLA, more often referred to as Superfund, was enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980. Superfund issues are slow, complex, and can represent significant financial liabilities to companies. One of the fundamental aspects of this process is the NPL.

As required by CERCLA, EPA updated the NPL on December 12, 2013. This round of revisions includes 17 sites with eight proposed sites and nine final sites on the NPL (refer to Key Terms).

Background

CERCLA mandates that the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) includes a list of national priorities among the “known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants” within the US. The NPL is included as Appendix B of the NCP (40 CFR Part 300). The NPL is intended to be utilized by the EPA to guide its determination of which sites necessitate further investigation. The EPA promulgated an original NPL of 406 sites on September 8, 1983 (48 FR 40658) and generally has updated it at least annually. Including both General and Federal sites, there are presently 53 proposed NPL sits, 1319 final NPL sites, and 375 deleted sites.

As noted within the Federal Register, the NPL designation does not assign liability to any party or to the owner of any specific property; further, placing a site on the NPL does not mean that any remedial or removal action necessarily need to be taken.

A site may undergo remedial action financed by the Trust Fund established under CERCLA (commonly referred to as the ‘‘Superfund’’) only after it is placed on the NPL, as provided in the NCP at 40 CFR 300.425(b)(1).

Mechanisms for Listing a Site on the NPL

Sites may be added to the NPL under three mechanisms defined as follows:

  1. If a site scores significantly high on the Hazard Ranking System (HRS), as promulgated in Appendix A of the NCP (40 CFR Part 300).
  2. States or Territories are allowed to designate one top-priority site regardless of HRS score. (40 CFR 300.425[c][2]).
  3. Certain sites can be listed without any HRS score, if the following conditions are met:
    • The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the U.S. Public Health Service has issued a health advisory that recommends dissociation of individuals from the release.
    • The EPA determines that the release poses a significant threat to public health.
    • The EPA anticipates that it will be more cost-effective to use its remedial authority than to use its removal authority to respond to the release.

 

Proposed Additions to the NPL

In the recently released proposed rule (December 12, 2013), the EPA is proposing to add eight sites to the NPL, all to the General Superfund section. All of the sites in this proposed rulemaking are being proposed based on HRS scores of 28.50 or above. The sites are presented in Table 1. Click on each name for additional details.

Table 1: Proposed NPL Sites (as of December 12, 2013) [table width=”100%” colwidth=”50%|50%” colalign=”center|center”] Proposed NPL Site Name,City/County/State Macmillan Ring Free Oil,Norphlet AR Keddy Mill,Windham ME PCE Southeast Contamination,York NE PCE/TCE Northeast Contamination,York NE Troy Chem Corp Inc.,Newark NJ Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation,Fairfield NJ Wolff-Alport Chemical Company,Ridgewood NY Walker Machine Products Inc.,Collierville TN Smurfit-Stone Mill (previously listed),Missoula MT [/table] Source: Information obtained from EPA, (http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/newprop.htm).

Final Additions to the NPL

In the recently released final rule (December 12, 2013), EPA added nine sites to the NPL, all to the General Superfund section. All of the sites in this proposed rulemaking are being proposed based on HRS scores of 28.50 or above.  The sites are presented in Table 2. Click on each name for additional details.

Table 2: Final NPL Sites (as of December 12, 2013)

[table width=”100%” colwidth=”50%|50%” colalign=”center|center”] Final NPL Site Name,City/County/State Rockets; Fireworks and Flares (RFF) (formerly known as B.F. Goodrich),Rialto CA Beck’s Lake,South Bend IN Garden City Ground Water Plume,Garden City IN Keystone Corridor Groundwater Contamination,Indianapolis IN Cristex Drum,Oxford NC Hemphill Road TCE,Gastonia NC Collins & Aikman Plant (Former),Farmington NH Jackpile-Paguate Uranium Mine,Laguna Pueblo NM Wilcox Oil Company,Creek County OK Makah Reservation Warmhouse Beach Dump,Neah Bay WA

[/table]

Source: Information obtained from EPA (http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/newfin.htm)

Removal of a Site from the NPL – Hit the Road, Jack!

The EPA will delete sites from the NPL in cases where no further response is warranted under Superfund (refer 40 CFR 300.425[e]). EPA will work with states on the proposed deletions as well consider the satisfactory completion of the following criteria:

  • Responsible parties (or others, as appropriate) have implemented all appropriate response actions required;
  • All appropriate Superfund-financed response has been implemented and no further response action is required; or
  • The remedial investigation has shown the release poses no significant threat to public health or the environment, and no additional remedial measures are appropriate.

 

superfund
Source: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/ community/process.htm

Since 1982, over 350 sites have been deleted from the NPL.  During 2012, nine sites were deleted; during 2013, ten sites were deleted. In fact even in 2014, two sites were deleted! Were you involved with any of these sites?

While listing a site on the NPL is a critical step to the Superfund Process, there are many additional steps along the way. We will dive into those a little deeper in future alerts. Stay tuned, and know that…

We Are Here To Help!

EHS Support is known in the industry as a project catalyst by using effective communication, focusing on strategy, and reducing site costs for potentially responsible party (PRP) groups. We understand PRP group dynamics and facilitate a consensus between all stakeholders involved. PRP groups experience similar hurdles in maintaining group cohesion while meeting schedules in a cost effective manner, and EHS Support provides coordination and management services to streamline these challenges.

If you have a site on the NPL, or are concerned with questions related to the Superfund process, consider contacting EHS Support. We can assist in any of the following areas:

  • CERCLA response coordination
  • Corporate portfolio risk analysis
  • Financial risk management
  • Company specific Superfund site management program development
  • De-minimus site management and tracking
  • PRP Group project coordination role
  • Prime consultant role
  • Financial management and administration
  • Strategic and tactical planning to achieve PRP group objectives
  • Technical oversight and critical reviews
  • Representation on behalf of your company in committee and subgroup participation
  • Corporate financial reserve estimates
  • PRP allocation determinations

 

Contact Kenny Ogilvie, Joe Biss, or Beth Hesse to learn more about how EHS Support can help you or your site PRP group in maintaining group cohesion while streamlining costs and decision making skills. Building trust among stakeholders makes projects less stressful and more effective.

Be on the lookout for additional client alerts over the coming months focusing on topics geared towards PRP Groups and common issues.

 

Key Terms

Hazard Ranking System: The HRS serves as a screening tool to evaluate the relative potential of uncontrolled hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants to pose a threat to human health or the environment. Agency policy states that sites with a score of 28.5 or greater are eligible for the NPL. The HRS evaluates four pathways: ground water, surface water, soil exposure and air.

Proposed NPL site: a site that has been proposed for listing on the National Priorities List through the issuance of a proposed rule in the Federal Register. EPA then accepts public comments on the site, responds to the comments, and places on the NPL those sites that continue to meet the requirements for listing.

Final NPL site: a site, usually with a HRS score of 28.5 or more, that has been added to the National Priorities List through the issuance of a final rule in the Federal Register. EPA can use Trust Fund monies to pay for long-term remedial actions only at final NPL sites.

 

References:

Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 239 / Thursday, December 12, 2013 / Proposed Rules Federal Register /Vol. 78, No. 239 /Thursday, December 12, 2013 /Rules and Regulations Resources for the Future: http://www.rff.org/Pages/default.aspx, accessed 1/16/14 EPA, Current NPL Updates: New Proposed and New Final NPL Sites, http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm, accessed 1/16/14

 

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