EPA frees $ 1 billion to clean up toxic waste sites in 24 states – NBC Connecticut

Nearly 50 toxic waste sites in the United States will be cleaned up, and work underway at dozens more will receive additional funding, as federal environmental officials announced a $ 1 billion injection on Friday. in the Superfund program.

The money comes from the $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill President Joe Biden enacted last month and will help officials tackle a backlog of highly polluted Superfund sites in 24 states that have languished for decades. years because of a lack of funding, said the Environmental Protection Agency. .

About 60% of the sites to be cleaned up are in low-income and minority communities that have suffered disproportionately from contamination left behind by closed manufacturing plants, landfills and other abandoned industrial operations.

“No community should have to live in the shadow of contaminated waste sites,” EPA administrator Michael Regan said at a press conference at the Lower Darby Creek Superfund site in Philadelphia on Friday. , where an old landfill leached chemicals into the largely minority soil and groundwater. Eastwick Quarter.

“With this funding, communities living near many of these most serious uncontrolled or abandoned contamination releases will finally get the protection they deserve,” said Regan, who has made environmental justice a top priority.

The funding is the first installment of a $ 3.5 billion loan to the Biparty Infrastructure Act’s Superfund program. The announcement comes a day after Regan disclosed plans to release $ 2.9 billion in infrastructure law funds for lead pipe removal nationwide and to impose tougher rules for limit exposure to lead, a significant health risk.

Sites to be cleaned up under the Superfund program include one in Roswell, New Mexico, where dry cleaners who went out of business nearly 60 years ago mixed the aquifer with toxic solvents; dozens of residential backyards in Lockport, New York, where a former felt maker contaminated the floor with lead; and a residential and commercial district in Pensacola, Florida, where the now defunct American Creosote Works once used toxic preservatives to treat wooden poles and fouled the neighborhood’s soil and groundwater.

In Philadelphia, weary residents approached the EPA in 2015 to request the cleanup of the contaminated Clearview landfill. Work began two years later. Over 25,000 tonnes of contaminated soil has already been removed from nearly 200 residential properties, parks have been cleaned up and stream banks have been stabilized.

The $ 30 million injection of the infrastructure law will accelerate these efforts, with work due to be completed in 2023, a year ahead of schedule.

“The value of our properties has never been higher,” said Eastwick resident Ted Pickett, who is part of a community group that has advised the EPA. “We are no longer concerned that our health will be negatively affected by concerns about the contamination of the landfill. Our social fabric is stronger. “

New Jersey has seven sites on the Superfund arrears list, while Florida has five and Michigan and North Carolina have four each. Pennsylvania has two – and 90 on the Superfund list as a whole.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said many of these toxic sites are in low-income, minority neighborhoods like Eastwick which have “borne a disproportionate share of the adverse effects of environmental damage.” for cleaning.

“We have to work tirelessly to clean up the polluted places that are hurting and holding back the communities they are in,” Wolf said, adding that the new Superfund money “will help deliver on the promise for communities across Pennsylvania.” .

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