Nearly $1 billion in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds will go toward starting construction on 22 new Superfund cleanup sites from the National Priorities List, as well as continuing work on the over 100 currently in progress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Feb. 10. This is the second infusion, after $1 billion in 2021, out of the $3.5 billion in Superfund cleanup funding provided by the law.
The 22 new cleanup projects cover sites in 15 states, including three each in Kansas, Massachusetts and New Jersey, in addition to projects in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Virginia and Vermont.
In line with with the Biden administration’s earlier pledges to promote environmental justice, 60% of the sites are in “historically underserved communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan on a press call. “With more than one in four Black and Hispanic Americans living within three miles of a Superfund site, this funding will help improve people's lives, especially those who have long been on the front lines of pollution,” he added. The administrator also highlighted post-cleanup development opportunities for Superfund sites, referencing public parks, recreational and residential development on restored land.
“These resources also give us breathing room at the agency to use other sources of funding that are available as well,” for actions such as enforcement—finding responsible parties, said Regan.
One of the newly cleanup projects is the Westside Lead site in Atlanta, Ga., a residential area containing lead-contaminated soil with an estimated $49-million price tag for cleanup that includes excavating and disposing contaminated soil and backfilling the site with clean soil. “This is a process that typically takes years to advance” said Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) on the press call. But the extra funding will allow an “accelerated timeline,” he added.
The $1 billion in IIJA funding for 2023 effectively doubles EPA's often underfunded Superfund cleanup budget, with just under $1 billion allocated for cleanup in EPA's FY2023 budget.
In Dec. 2021, the administration announced an initial $1 billion that funded cleanup in 2022 of 44 Superfund sites from EPA’s National Priorities List backlog, part of 81 new cleanups started that year, as well as additional funds for ongoing projects, according to Regan. The additional funding enabled EPA to clear its backlog of unfunded projects.