...but I attribute a good amount of that—if not the majority of that—to the stimulus funding,” says Harvey Coppage, Black & Veatch’s director of environmental services.

While some industry firms call for more funding, critics contend that providing more money is not a panacea. They say the EPA’s process for identifying, studying and cleaning up sites has become too rigid and cumbersome. Winston Porter, a former EPA U.S. assistant administrator who oversaw the Superfund program in the mid- to late 1980s, says, “I’m concerned that if we just throw more money at the problem, it’s just going to get lost in the bureaucracy.”

Erhardt Werth, executive vice president and director for guaranteed business solutions for ARCADIS, whose cleanup work is almost exclusively for PRPs and corporate clients, says not a lot has changed in the Superfund program in 30 years. And that is EPA’s “biggest challenge,” he says.

“A lot of money spent under Superfund is spent dealing with and recording process,” he says. When Superfund was enacted in 1980, little expertise about site remediation existed, Werth explains. So the program’s first regulators set up a framework that would enable those with limited expertise to clean up the sites. But now, 30 years later, “We haven’t streamlined the process,” Werth says.

ARCADIS advocates an approach called “guaranteed remediation process,” or GRiP, which it uses with its corporate and municipal clients. “Our concept is to provide cost certainty and schedule acceleration for closure for less than what clients are expecting to pay under the traditional paradigm of doing contract work,” Werth says.

ARCADIS is implementing GRiP at a site for the city of Orlando. The $12.9-million contract covers the costs of implementing an EPA-approved groundwater cleanup program that will guarantee no further active remediation of the groundwater plume will be needed once the project is complete in 2014 or 2015. The work began in 2008.

Mike Walsh, group president of Parsons Corp., Pasadena, Calif., which also works primarily with private-sector clients, also recommends a non-traditional plan. “Perhaps a risk-based approach to remediating a lot of these sites would add a lot of value for the private sector and would help the EPA get a lot more of these sites cleaned up more quickly.”

Recognizing some of the program’s challenges, EPA rolled out its Integrated Cleanup Initiative this year. The strategy is designed to identify potential improvements in efficiency and accountability that can be made across all stages of remediation—from assessment through cleanup completion—for all land cleanup programs, says EPA.


“We seek to integrate and leverage the agency’s land-cleanup authorities to accelerate cleanups, address a greater number of contaminated sites and put these sites” back into productive use, the agency adds. EPA also convenes prioritization panels to decide how to spend its limited resources, says Black & Veatch’s Coppage. From his perspective, the Superfund program overall is “maturing,” he says.

Thirty years ago, “we were literally tripping over drums at very obvious, visible hazardous-waste hazards. Now things are less visible—more residual contaminants in groundwater and subsurfaces, primarily,” he says. Still, he acknowledges, “There is a backlog of sites that need to get cleaned up.”

State Name of Site Fiscal year site was listed on NPL Estimated year human exposure will be controlled
Calif. Lava Cap Mine 1999 2010
McCormick & Baxler Creosoting Co. 1993 After 2015
Modesto Groundwater Contamination 1989 2010
Montrose Chemical Corp. 1990 After 2015
Omega Chemical Corp. 1999 2010
Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine 1990 After 2015
United Heckathorn Co. 1990 After 2015
N.J. Caldwell Trucking Co. 1983 2013
Martin Aaron, Inc. 1999 2011
NL Industries 1983 2010
Roebling Steel Co. 1983 2015
Universal Oil Products (Chemical Division) 1983 After 2015
Ventron/Velsicol 1984 After 2015
Vineland Chemical Co. 1984 After 2015
Welsbach & General Gas Mantle (Camden Radiation) 1996 After 2015
Pa. Bally Groundwater Contamination 1987 2010
Crossley Farm 1993 2011
Havertown PCP 1983 2010
Price Battery 2005 2013
Salford Quarry 2009 2015
Source: GAO