Manufacturing facility, yard cleanup and drummed waste in abandoned electroplating facility

 

Site Assessment Unit

When a potential hazardous waste site is discovered, the Site Assessment Unit (SAU) studies and investigates the new site. New sites are discovered in many ways. Often, a neighbor or a neighboring business will call and report a suspected abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste situation. Citizens are welcome to report situations of which they are aware. The SAU will add the site to their working list and begin the investigation. The project manager assigned to the site obtains more information, visits the site and decides if the site warrants further investigation. If the conditions at the site have the potential to pose a serious threat to human health or the environment, the project manager proceeds with collecting waste and environmental samples for laboratory analysis, determines the risk to the surrounding area and recommends a course of action. Superfund sites in Missouri under investigation can be found in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA's) Superfund Enterprise Management System, or SEMS.

Some sites contain hazards that need to be removed immediately in order to protect nearby residents and workers or the environment. Other sites contain hazards that require less immediate action, but might require a long time to clean up. Serious sites that score high on a federal ranking system, can be recommended for the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is EPA’s list of the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites. Sites needing removals and cleanups are referred to the Remedial Project Management Unit in Superfund or to EPA.

Remedial Project Management Unit

After a site has been evaluated and ranked or recommended for the NPL, EPA and the department work together to begin negotiations for cleaning up the site. In Superfund, the parties responsible for contaminating the site are required to pay for the study and cleanup, with EPA and the department’s supervision. If there are no potentially responsible parties (PRPs) for a site, federal Superfund dollars finance the work, which the department matches by 10 percent. For some sites requiring urgent response due to high risks, a removal action is performed, which is paid for entirely with federal funds or by PRPs. Since the sites may have been abandoned, are uncontrolled or the contamination occurred a long time ago, it is often difficult to locate the PRPs. The PRP search is one of the first steps toward cleanup.

Further investigation, sampling and study must be done to characterize the site and to plan for the cleanup. Seriously contaminated sites and sites with groundwater contamination are generally placed on the NPL. Superfund sites are usually large areas or are very seriously contaminated. Consequently, it is time consuming and costly to clean up a Superfund site. Studies are performed to locate all soil and groundwater contamination and to determine which method of cleanup will be most effective for ensuring protection of human health and the environment. EPA and the department work toward agreement on selecting the best cleanup method for each site.

After sites are cleaned up, groundwater samples are taken periodically and site conditions are monitored to ensure that the cleanup was effective in controlling problems at the site. The Remedial Project Management Unit (RPMU) also provides advice and oversees cleanups conducted by state agencies that own contaminated property. In most cases, contaminated state-owned properties are brought back into a productive use after cleanup.

Go to this EPA website for current information on many of the Superfund sites Missouri Superfund Section works on.