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NJ Pioneers Another Toxic Superfund Reform

EPA Proposes To Consider “Vapor Intrusion” In Superfund Listing Decisions

Once again, NJ is in the national spotlight on Superfund

Everyone knows that NJ has the most Superfund sites of any state in the country and that NJ Congressman Jim Florio was the prime sponsor of the federal Superfund law.

But not many NJ residents who are at risk in their own homes know much of anything about “vapor intrusion” coming from hundreds of NJ toxic sites.

So, once again, NJ is in the national spotlight and at the forefront of the Superfund toxic site cleanup program.

Today, after years of study, the US EPA proposed a new regulation to consider the risks to human health from toxic “vapor intrusion” in listing sites for the Superfund “National Priorities List” (NPL):

SUMMARY: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to add a subsurface intrusion (SsI) component to the Hazard Ranking System (HRS) which is the principal mechanism that EPA uses to evaluate sites for placement on the National Priorities List (NPL). The subsurface intrusion component (this addition) would expand the number of available options for EPA and state and tribal organizations performing work on behalf of EPA to evaluate potential threats to public health from releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants. This addition will allow an HRS evaluation to directly consider human exposure to hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants that enter regularly occupied structures through subsurface intrusion in assessing a site’s relative risk, and thus, enable subsurface intrusion contamination to be evaluated for placement of sites on the NPL. The agency is not considering changes to the remainder of the HRS except for minor updates reflecting changes in terminology.

For the entire notice, see

NJ’s fingerprints are all over the EPA proposal.

The EPA proposal was originally advanced by former NJ DEP Commissioner and former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson five years ago, way back in 2011 (See January 31, 2011 Federal Register for that EPA proposal. I wrote about that at the time, see:

NJ activists from Pompton Lakes, were instrumental in its development.

Hundreds of residents were poisoned by vapor intrusion into their homes from the Dupont site – they played a significant role in EPA’s consideration of the vapor intrusion issue.

Pompton Lakes activists from the Citizens for a Clean Pompton Lakes (CCPL) suffered and worked on the vapor intrusion issue for several years.

They testified at EPA hearings and provided a strong case for why these health risks must be considered and why they are currently poorly regulated by EPA under the Resource Conservation and Revcovery Act (RCRA) “Corrective Action” regulatory program.

The Dupont Pompton Lakes toxic site is one of the worst “vapor intrusion” sites in the country, where over 450 homes were poisoned and the NJ Department of Health found statistically significant health risks associated with chemicals from the Dupont site.

While EPA appears to be moving more aggressively in addressing vapor intrusion risks, in sharp contrast, the Christie DEP has rolled back protections and weakened vapor intrusion standards. See:

We congratulate the activists at CCPL and urge EPA to adopt this proposal as quickly as possible.

But even if adopted, it’s benefits are washed out by EPA policy to defer to a State Governor and seek their concurrence before listing any site on the Supefund NPL.

Christie would never take on the Dupont’s of the world.

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