Posts tagged #CERCLA

Vapor Intrusion Intruding on EPA’s Hazard Ranking System under CERCLA

Section 105(a)(8)(B) of CERCLA sets forth the outlines of the scoring system used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) Superfund program to assess and rank the potential and actual threat associated with sites across the country. The scoring system is known as the Hazard Ranking System (the “HRS”). The HRS was originally adopted in 1982, but was subsequently amended in 1990 in response to the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act.

The HRS groups information obtained by EPA from its Preliminary Assessment and Site Inspection into four predetermined categories or “pathways.” The pathways include: (1) groundwater migration; (2) soil exposure; (3) surface water migration; and (4) air migration. EPA then weighs the four pathways against three individual factors grouped into three categories: (1) the likelihood of a release; (2) waste characteristics; and (3) “targets” or nearby human population and sensitive environments. EPA next assigns numeric values to each pathways and plugs the numbers into a magic formula that spits out a score ranging from 0 to 100. Any site that receives a score of 28.50 or above must be placed on the list of sites that require the most urgent attention, known as the National Priorities List (the “NPL”). Since 1991, EPA has added, on average 30 sites to the NPL each year. That number, however, may begin to rise soon.

Posted on February 11, 2016 .

EPA Considers Portion of Hackensack River for National Priorities List

This article was written with the assistance of Nora Lawrence, Associate.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced plans to evaluate whether a 17-mile stretch of the Hackensack River in New Jersey should be added to Superfund’s National Priorities List (NPL). The assessment comes as a response to a citizen petition filed by the non-profit, Hackensack Riverkeepers, whose members are concerned by the high levels of mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, and other toxic chemicals contained in the river’s sediment. The EPA’s assessment will take place over the course of the next year. Should the river be added to the NPL, it would join over 1,300 existing Superfund sites, which mostly consist of industrial sites, waste disposal facilities, and polluted waterways. New Jersey is already home to 114 Superfund sites, more than any other state in the nation. Several of these sites are already located on or near the Hackensack River and its neighbor, the Passaic River. There are potentially hundreds of responsible entities, as the contamination is the result of a century’s worth of industrial activity along the banks of the river. The Newark Bay Complex Superfund Site which includes portions of the Passaic River is already the subject of a contentious process focused on addressing dioxins, pesticides and volatile organic compounds. It has been the subject of a protracted state litigation which was recently settled, leaving the potential for additional litigation in federal court.

Posted on February 27, 2015 .

Two Important Clean Energy Announcements for New England

Offshore Wind
January 29, 2015 – that’s the date the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has selected for the auctioning of four leases within the Massachusetts offshore Wind Energy Area (WEA).  The WEA is located 12 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and encompasses more than 742,000 acres.  A map of the proposed location can be found here (green shading).  Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell praised the Commonwealth and Governor Patrick stating, “This sale will triple the amount of federal offshore acreage available for commercial-scale wind energy projects, bringing Massachusetts to the forefront of our nation’s new energy frontier.”

Posted on December 4, 2014 .

EPA Updates Standards for All Appropriate Inquiries

On November 1, 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) adopted standards and procedures for performing All Appropriate Inquiries (“AAIs”) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). The standards adopted by EPA were developed by the American Society for Testing and Engineering (“ASTM”) and required parties purchasing a parcel of land to undertake a thorough investigation of the property’s history to identify potential sources of hazardous contamination.