What's Ahead for Superfund Redevelopment
July 2009 marked the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative’s (SRI) tenth anniversary, providing a perfect opportunity to look back at ten years of lessons learned and consider what the future might hold. SRI’s mission has been to ensure that communities have the tools and resources they need to return sites to productive and protective use. Since 1999, SRI has tracked over 500 Superfund sites supporting some form of actual, continued, or planned use. These are exciting numbers, and with over 1,600 sites on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) alone, SRI wants to see even more sites returned to productive use.
Over the past ten years, SRI has evolved significantly. SRI began its support of reuse by awarding approximately 70 communities pilot grants to determine the reasonably anticipated future land use of the site in their community. By understanding how a site might be used in the future, EPA could help plan, design, and implement remedies that would accommodate those future uses. Other significant efforts over the last decade that are expected to continue include:
- Forming partnerships with organizations interested in the reuse of sites, such as the U.S. Soccer Foundation and the Academy of Model Aeronautics;
- Starting and continuing to support the Return to Use Initiative, an effort to partner with local communities to identify and remove barriers to reuse at cleaned up sites;
- Creating and providing tools, such as Ready for Reuse determinations and site reuse fact sheets, to answer particular questions about sites and help remove stigma associated with their reuse;
- Collecting and writing reuse stories and anecdotes to share information about how sites have been returned to reuse and sharing approaches and lessons learned with other communities;
- Providing local communities with reuse planning seed resources to continue on-site efforts to consider reasonably anticipated future land uses; and
- Creating, implementing and tracking new reuse performance measures, such as the Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use Government Performance and Results Act measure, that measure the Agency’s progress in making sites ready for their anticipated future use.
Moving forward, SRI hopes to work with communities to think about future use at sites both early in the cleanup process and at sites where there are already remedies in place. SRI also hopes to support efforts to consider innovative uses that will help ensure that remedies are not only protective but play a role in ensuring the health of our planet. Such innovative uses may include alternative or sustainable energy production, agricultural uses, and sites reused in a manner consistent with Smart Growth principles. Notably, reusing sites is in and of itself a step towards Smart Growth because the reuse of a previously used property saves greenfields. SRI expects that the new Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities between US EPA, the US Department of Transportation, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development will play a key role in thinking about Superfund reuse.
SRI has learned that the reuse of sites plays a very important role in ensuring sites have long-term stewards and that the remedy will continue to be protective of human health and the environment; any form of reuse will help the Agency with its mission to protect human health and the environment. Each community is unique and each site presents a new opportunity to regain what was lost. Ten years from now, SRI hopes to see 500 more sites in some form of actual, continued, or planned reuse.