EPA Releases Ninth Update to the Administrator’s Superfund Emphasis List, Continuing the Commitment





CONTACT: rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

EPA Releases Ninth Update to the Administrator’s Superfund Emphasis List, Continuing the Commitment to Help Accelerate Progress at Sites Across the Country

Newark, N.J. and Kent. N.Y. Sites Noted

NEW YORK (August 12, 2020) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the ninth update to the Administrator’s Emphasis List of Superfund Sites Targeted for Immediate, Intense Action (Administrator’s Emphasis List) in Green Bay, Wis. In this latest update, the Quendall Terminals site in Renton, Wash. was removed from the list as the final cleanup plan has been signed and the milestone of issuing the final Record of Decision is now complete. In addition, EPA continues to make significant progress towards achieving the milestones at the sites that remain on the Administrator’s Emphasis List.

“EPA is showing its commitment to getting Superfund site clean-ups across the country back on track,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Our most recent work completes a cleanup plan for the Quendall Terminals site – the last large undeveloped portion of Lake Washington shoreline – and will bring clarity to its future and for the community of Renton, Washington.”

Building on the Superfund Task Force recommendations, EPA added a specific project to the Administrator’s Emphasis List that involves reviewing sites that have been proposed but not yet added to the National Priorities List (NPL). By December 2020, EPA will review and evaluate the current status of such sites and determine if it is still necessary to continue the NPL listing process for those sites or if EPA can withdraw the proposal. This project aims to provide clarity, transparency and certainty regarding NPL site status.

Since the creation of the Administrator’s Emphasis List in 2017, 20 sites have been removed from the list after achieving critical milestones that furthered site cleanup or solved issues slowing the pace of cleanups. With this update, there are a total of 14 Superfund sites and one project on the list.

Today’s update includes removing the Quendall Terminals site in Renton, Wash. from the Administrator’s Emphasis List because the milestone to select a final cleanup action in the Record of Decision signed by the EPA Administrator was achieved on July 17, 2020.

Quendall Terminals spent a decade on the National Priorities List facing stalled cleanup because of its unique characteristics – significant creosote/coal tar in the subsurface along the last large undeveloped portion of Lake Washington shoreline and located adjacent to residential and commercial properties. EPA had challenges in developing and considering alternatives that provided permanence and facilitated future redevelopment opportunities. EPA used the Administrator’s Emphasis List to bring needed attention to the site, specifically support conducting and evaluating a pilot study for an innovative technology (smoldering combustion) to complement the use of other available more conventional cleanup approaches. This led to completing the Feasibility Study, issuing two Proposed Plans outlining the cleanup options, identifying EPA’s preferred alternatives for public comment, ultimately culminating in issuing the Record of Decision. For more information, please visit: https://semspub.epa.gov/work/10/100255278.pdf.

The focused attention also rapidly concluded a process that allows EPA to engage with the responsible parties and potential prospective purchasers on an agreement to implement the selected remedy. The cleanup that addresses contaminated soil, sediment, and ground water contamination includes in-situ treatment, soil capping, and removal of contaminated sediment, as well as institutional controls for long-term protectiveness.

Today’s Administrator’s Emphasis List updates continue to demonstrate EPA’s commitment to the American people to facilitate progress at Superfund sites by resolving long-standing issues at cleanup projects across the country. EPA monitors sites removed from the list to ensure that significant progress continues, and cleanups move towards completion. Three such sites are: The Arsenic Mine in Kent, N.Y., the Diamond Alkali/Passaic site in Newark, N.J., and the USS Lead site in East Chicago, Ind.

On June 3, 2019, EPA proposed the Arsenic Mine site in Kent, N.Y. to the NPL after the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry issued a public health advisory. The site was added to the Administrator’s Emphasis List in July 2019 to consider public comments received on the NPL listing proposal and make a final listing determination. It was officially listed the site on the NPL in November 2019. A Focused Feasibility Study and a Proposed Plan for the dissociation of residents were released for public comment on April 8, 2020. On June 29, 2020, EPA selected a cleanup plan for the Arsenic Mine site that includes offering to purchase certain contaminated properties and permanently relocate affected residents to prevent exposure to arsenic-contaminated soil.          

The Diamond Alkali/Passaic site in Newark, N.J. was placed on the Administrator’s Emphasis List with the goal of finalizing the Remedial Investigation for the 17-mile Lower Passaic River Study Area. EPA approved the Remedial Investigation on June 28, 2019, advancing the process towards a cleanup. Since then, the potentially responsible parties have been working on a Feasibility Study to evaluate potential early/interim cleanup actions for the upper nine miles of the 17-mile Lower Passaic River Study Area. As a result of this work, EPA expects to finalize the Feasibility Study and issue to the public a Proposed Plan for an early/interim action by the end of September 2020.

The USS Lead site in East Chicago, Ind. was placed on the Administrator’s Emphasis List to amend the cleanup for Zone 1 to reflect the change in Zone 1 conditions, including future land use and ensure completion of soil remediation in Zones 2 and 3. On March 24, 2020, the EPA Administrator amended the 2012 remedy for the former West Calumet Housing Complex in Zone 1. The amendment reflects EPA’s awareness of local efforts to redevelop Zone 1 for commercial use, although the current designation remains residential. Additionally, EPA has completed soil cleanup at a significant number of residential properties in Zone 2 and 3 and as a result, on July 8, 2020, EPA announced its proposal to remove 671 properties at the site from the NPL. EPA accepted public comments on its proposal through August 7, 2020.

Residential properties removed from the USS Lead site may be eligible for funding through the city of East Chicago’s Residential Repair Program. Also, deleting this section of the site from the NPL will enable the city to redevelop vacant lots.


EPA established the Administrator’s Emphasis List in December 2017 in response to recommendations from EPA’s Superfund Task Force. The list is comprised of sites identified by Administrator Wheeler and EPA regional offices that will benefit from the Administrator’s immediate attention or action to move site cleanups forward.

The list serves as a mechanism to address site-specific issues that may cause delays in a site’s cleanup progress. EPA considers removing a site from the list once the milestone is achieved and the cleanup activities are back on track. Sites move on and off the list as needed, and removal from the Administrator’s Emphasis List does not change the site’s status on the National Priorities List. 

The updated Administrator’s Emphasis List is available on the agency’s website at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/administrators-emphasis-list

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