Legal Innovation Leads to Site Cleanup and Redevelopment
The redevelopment of the Many Diversified Interests, Inc. (MDI), Superfund site (PDF) (12 pp, 3MB, About PDF) located in the Fifth Ward community just east of Houston, TX, illustrates how stakeholders with different interests can work together to achieve a common objective.
In 1999 EPA awarded a $100,000 Superfund Redevelopment Initiative (SRI) grant to the City of Houston. The grant funded development of a reuse plan for the MDI property, which was completed in 2002 with community input. However, financial issues, including lack of viable Responsible Parties, halted cleanup activities. Redevelopment, in turn, was also stopped.
In 2004, a new approach was identified: cleanup by a non-liable party. EPA, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Department of Justice worked together to draft an Agreed Order on Consent and Covenant Not to Sue (Order). This first of its kind Order enabled a non-liable party, Clinton-Gregg Investments (CGI), to work with EPA, removed site liens, provided protection to the party by including a covenant not to sue the purchaser, and supported the cleanup of the site consistent with EPA policy.;
CGI completed construction of remedial structures in early 2008. The current redevelopment plan includes 600-700 homes, a lake, and linked park areas. The planned community, Seventh at 5th, will serve to not only reuse the land, but also to revitalize the Fifth Ward.