Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results:
FY2008 Superfund Enforcement
FY2008 Annual Results Topics
EPA's Superfund enforcement program achieves prompt site cleanup and maximum liable party participation in performing and paying for cleanup in ways that promote environmental justice and fairness. The response and cost recovery commitments from private parties for fiscal year (FY) 2008 continue to exemplify a robust enforcement program. Fiscal year 2008 activities and results include:
- Banner Year for Response Commitments for Site Study and Cleanup
- Collection of Past and Future Cleanup Costs from Bankruptcy Cases
- Management Improvements to Superfund Special Accounts
- Enforcing Cleanup Requirements at Federal Facilities
Fiscal year 2008 was an exceptional year for the Superfund enforcement program. The response commitments for site study and cleanup work from private parties are the fifth highest since the inception of the program in 1980. In FY 2008 EPA obtained commitments from responsible parties to invest $1.575 billion for investigation and cleanup of Superfund sites. In FY 2008 EPA entered into 277 settlements with responsible parties, 124 settlements for site study and cleanup work and 153 settlements for cost recovery.
Several of the settlements reached with private parties in FY 2008 involve record setting amounts of money. In fact, three of these settlements are in the "top ten settlements" for the history of the Superfund enforcement program in terms of dollars committed by private parties for future site work. These three settlements are:
- The Fox River Superfund Site in Wisconsin where the parties will conduct future cleanup valued at $390 million.
- The bankruptcy settlement agreement with W.R. Grace valued at $250 million for work at the Libby Asbestos Site in Montana, and
- The $197 million settlement with Kennecott Copper Corporation for work at the company's site in Utah.
Other notable settlements in FY 2008 where EPA entered into agreements for future response work include:
- $99 million at the Milltown Reservoir Sediments Superfund site in Montana,
- $80 million at the Diamond Alkali Co. site in New Jersey, and
- $94 million at the Jacksonville Ash Browns Dump Site in Florida.
EPA's Superfund enforcement program continues an "enforcement first approach" (PDF) (3pp, 121K, about PDF), and also ensures a fair, more effective, and more efficient Superfund program by maximizing private party participation in performing and paying for site cleanup.More information on Superfund and other land case highlights is available at Land Highlights
EPA vigorously pursues past and future costs in bankruptcy as part of its commitment to ensure that responsible parties, and not taxpayers, pay for cleanup of hazardous waste and has achieved potential multi-million recoveries this year. EPA collects to the fullest extent it can on its claims in bankruptcy, given the goals of bankruptcy and environmental law and challenges inherent in bankruptcy. Under bankruptcy law and practice, creditors, including EPA, face the risk that a bankrupt estate will not have enough assets to cover the full value of their claims.
In FY 2008, the Agency achieved major settlements in several multi-regional, multi-site bankruptcy cases. EPA's allowed claims total almost $500 million from the Dana Holding Corporation and W.R. Grace bankruptcies and from a settlement with an insurer in the Fruit of the Loom bankruptcy. These funds will enable the Agency to achieve cleanup of contamination such as asbestos, radioactive materials, heavy metals, and pesticides at 40 sites throughout the country.
- Dana Corporation: Through this settlement, the United States achieved the potential recovery of significant funds toward the cleanup of six Superfund sites located throughout the country, as well as the recovery of civil penalties under the Superfund and Clean Water Act from one of the world's largest independent manufacturers of parts for light, commercial, and off-highway vehicles. EPA received an allowed claim of $122,550,222 in stock certificates for cleanup at the sites. [More Information]
- W.R. Grace: The United States settled two claims with W.R.Grace in the fiscal year. The first provides EPA with a $34 million allowed general unsecured claim in connection with Grace's environmental liability at 29 Superfund sites in 17 states for cleanup of hazardous substances, including vermiculate, asbestos and low levels of radioactive and heavy metals at the sites. The second settlement this past year provided a payment of $250 million for past and future costs of cleanup of asbestos contamination in Libby, Montana. This settlement is the largest sum of money paid as reimbursement for a Superfund cleanup to date.
- American International Specialty Lines Insurance Company (AISLIC): In this settlement, AISLIC agreed to pay $42.5 million to clean up contamination at four industrial facilities to resolve its liability under an insurance policy. The four sites, formerly owned by Fruit of the Loom, are located in Michigan, New Jersey, and Tennessee. [More Information]
Through its enforcement efforts, EPA has collected over $2 billion in Superfund special accounts to support the cleanup of hazardous waste sites. The Superfund law permits EPA to establish Superfund special accounts with proceeds from settlements with potentially responsible parties to fund future response actions at sites. These site-specific, interest bearing accounts reside within Superfund's Hazardous Waste Trust Fund. EPA has used over a billion dollars in account funds to clean up sites and is also able to offer account funds as an incentive to encourage potentially responsible parties to undertake cleanup work.
The growth and importance of these accounts has necessitated improved management efforts. Accordingly, EPA has developed several tools to better manage special accounts, including:
- Developing an interactive bibliography to give EPA staff quick access to needed sections of special account guidance,
- Allowing the Regions to plan for fund expenditure and access information about individual accounts by creating new data entry fields for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System (CERCLIS) database, and
- Improving coordination among the offices responsible for oversight and management of special accounts through development of an inter-office management strategy.
As result of the Agency's efforts, EPA staff is better equipped to manage and use this important resource to maximize cleanup of contaminated sites. Preliminary information from the new data in CERCLIS on EPA's plans for using special accounts indicates that over 90 percent of the funds are already designated for use in cleanup.
In FY 2008, under enforcement agreements with EPA, federal facilities committed to address more than 110 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and groundwater at their facilities. There are over 150 final federal facility sites on Superfund's National Priorities List (NPL) which requires EPA and the federal agency that owns or operates the NPL site to enter into an enforceable agreement governing the cleanup and laying out each party's responsibilities. EPA has agreements in place at most of these sites and continues to enter into agreements at the remaining sites.
Enforceable agreements entered in FY 2008 include:
- EPA, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico finalized an agreement for a former military site on the island of Vieques off Puerto Rico. [More Information]
- EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard completed an agreement governing the cleanup of the Coast Guard’s Curtis Bay facility in Baltimore, Maryland. [More Information]
Under enforceable agreements reached previously, federal facilities continue to investigate and clean up environmental contamination at their facilities.
- The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Site 300 in California is a high-explosives test facility. DOE will clean up contaminated ground water and soil at an estimated cost over $626 million. [More Information]
- Part of Fort Ord, a former Army base near Monterey Bay in California, will become a wildlife reserve after munitions in the soil are cleaned up. Robots will be used to find and remediate the munitions wastes. Another clean up at Fort Ord will address almost 45 million cubic yards of contaminated groundwater. These Fort Ord cleanups will cost over $150 million. [More Information]
EPA takes action when it finds that a facility is not complying with its cleanup commitments. In FY 2008, EPA took two enforcement actions against DOE for failure to perform agreed upon cleanup work at its Hanford site adjacent to the Columbia River in Washington State.
- In settling one action, DOE agreed to pay a $285,000 penalty, purchase two emergency response boats for the local sheriff's office (estimated cost over $200,000) to respond to any hazardous material spills, and to construct a greenhouse and nursery at a nearby campus of Washington State University to grow native vegetation to be used to rehabilitate habitat at the Hanford facility (estimated cost over $600,000). [More Information]
- DOE agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty for missing cleanup deadlines at its Hanford site. When the U.S. Navy failed to properly monitor wells at the Brunswick Naval Air Station in Maine, EPA assessed stipulated penalties pursuant to a 1990 agreement between the Navy and EPA. The Navy appealed to the EPA Administrator who affirmed the assessment of $153,000 in stipulated penalties. The Navy agreed to pay the penalty. [More Information]
Tyndall Air Force Base (FL) is an NPL site where EPA found that there may be an imminent and substantial endangerment at the site due to pesticides, heavy metals, volatile organics and residues from ordnance, jet fuel and oil have been found in groundwater, surface water, soil and sediments at the base. Groundwater is only two to three feet below the surface and is used for drinking. DDT has been found in the sediments in nearby Shoal Bayou which is used for recreational fishing and wading and which has sensitive ecological resources such as fish, shellfish and birds. Because of this endangerment, EPA issued a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) order requiring the Air Force to investigate contamination at the base and take action to clean it up. [More Information]