EPA commemorates 20 years of Superfund redevelopment
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it is commemorating the 20th anniversary of its Superfund Redevelopment Initiative (SRI) this year. SRI was launched in 1999 with the goal of returning formerly contaminated lands to long-term sustainable and productive reuse for communities across the country. Returning Superfund sites back to productive use has resulted in dramatic changes in communities by improving the quality of life, raising property values and providing needed services to communities, EPA says.
“Over the past 20 years, the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative has proven that incorporating reuse early in the process removes barriers to redevelopment and ensures that cleanup plans promote future economic and recreational opportunities,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says. “Thanks to SRI, hundreds of formerly contaminated sites have been transformed into hubs of economic, recreational or residential activity. Promoting redevelopment and community revitalization is a top priority of this administration, and [it’s] one of the key goals of the agency’s Superfund Task Force.”
Before SRI, contaminated sites were targeted for cleanup but not necessarily put back into productive use. By considering reuse early in the site cleanup process, SRI works to ensure that desired future uses are compatible with site cleanup remedies and removes barriers that could keep areas vacant or underused.
Depending on site conditions and community preferences, sites can be reused for a multitude of purposes. SRI has helped communities turn former lumberyards into parks, landfills into solar farms and former smelters into health clinics. EPA provides communities with points of contact, as well as case studies and best practices.
Overall, approximately 1,000 Superfund sites are in reuse today—more than half the number of sites on Superfund’s National Priorities List.