Testimony of Wilma Subra
September 4, 1997

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the issue of Superfund reauthorization. l have been involved in Superfund issues since the inception of Superfund, working with citizens groups living around sites, serving as a technical advisor on the National Commission on Superfund, and provide technical assistance to citizens groups at 8 Superfund Sites through the TAG process.

State Delegation

The transfer of authority to states in order to perform the Superfund program may be appropriate for a few states, but the wholesale transfer of the Superfund program to a large number of states will have a negative impact on the program.

An example of a state that should not be granted Superfund authority is the state of Louisiana. The state lacks the financial resources, personnel and political will to even implement their own state program. The majority of the National Priority List sites in Louisiana were submitted to EPA by citizens groups. The state did not want the stigma of hazardous waste sites being on a federal list.

In 1995, the state legislature removed almost all of the funding and personnel from the state prngram. The current state program only has sufficient financial resources to perform small emergency removal actions when midnight dumpers drop off barrels of waste along roadsides and to provide federal required oversight at the 14 Superfund Sites in the state. There is little or no resources to evaluate the more than 500 potential sites or to perform remedial activities at confirmed sites. During the past two fiscal years 57 confirmed hazardous waste sites sit waiting for cleanup when and if resources become available. When sites pose an eminent and substantial threat, the EPA has to step in to finance and perform emergency removal actions for the state. The most recent examples of the need for federal resources and manpower was the Broussard Chemical Co. sites in Vermilion Parish. The EPA spent more than $2.5 million performing an investigation, removal and disposal action at 6 separate locations operated by Broussard Chemical. A number of additional sites operated by the same person are currently being investigated by EPA.

If it were not for the EPA and the financial resources of the Potentially Responsible Parties, little progress would be made in the state of Louisiana in addressing the hazardous waste sites.

The EPA is currently funding site inspections at 1 5 potential hazardous waste sites in the the state of Louisiana. More than 40 pipeline companies are performing site evaluation at sites along their pipelines throughout the state of Louisiana. Site cleanups were completed at 7 PRP funded sites. The EPA is funding a program to assist the state in identifying up to 25 additional sites per year. But the state will still lack the financial resources to address the newly identified sites.

At PRP funded sites the state is still responsible for oversight. The lack of personnel resources has a major impact on the process. In Louisiana, the lack of sufficient technical resources has resulted in the state missing critical technical issues on the Shell - Bayou Trepagnier site. One of the issues missed involved the diluting of the contaminant levels by the PRP including the control samples in both the site samples and the control samples. Thus lower contaminant concentrations were evaluated for the site.

The state of Louisiana and many other states which lack financial and personnel resources should not be even given the opportunity to request state delegation or feel pushed by Congress into having to accept the delegation of the Superfund Program.

Failure to Act

The delegation of the Superfund Program to individual states contains a clause enttled Failure to Act. This clause is contained in three separate portions of the delegation requirements (pg. 37, 45 and 46). Under the Failure to Act clause, if a determination is not made by the administration within a specified number of days after the required information is received from a state, the transfer of responsibility shall be deemed to have been granted.

This clause is inappropriate. A state should not be automatically granted delegation of the Superfund Program. The EPA must be given the opportunity to completely evaluate information provided by the state.

Treatment of Hot Spots

The preference for permanence in Superfund remedies has been modified to only treatment of hot spots. Attempts are made to justify the appropriateness of only treating the hot spots by including containment for the other hazardous substances. Reliance on containment is not a permanent remedy and merely puts off addressing the hazardous contamination until a future date. During that period when the containment fails, public health and the environment will be impacted. The community members in the area of the site will once again be exposed to the hazardous substances and bear the burden of health impacts. The preference for permanence should be expanded to include a larger portion of the hazardous contaminants than just the hot spots.

A containment remedy is being proposed for the Agriculture Street Landfill Superfund Site in New Orleans. The landfill was operated by the City of New Orleans from 1909 to 1965. The city then developed 47 acres of the 95 acre site on top of the landfill an private and public housing, recreation facilities and an elementary school. The residential population consists of 67 privately owned homes, 179 rent-to-own townhouses, and 128 senior citIzen apartments. The proposed containment will be a permeable two feet of soil in the residential area and one foot of soil in the undeveloped area. The hazardous waste will still be located one to two feet under the residential area with only a permeable layer separating the people from the waste. 4 Even representatives of waste disposal companies have stated that no one should be made to live on top of an old landfill. In this case the people should be relocated and an appropriate containment remedy implemented.

Community Advisory Group Composition

The composition of the Community Advisory Group is defined under SCAA Section 303 (h) (5) (ii) The first type of group defined is "Person who resides or owns residential property near the facility." In the case of some Superfund sites, people live and own land on the Superfund site. These people should be represented on the Community Advisory Group.

An example of such a site is the Agriculture Street Landfill Superfund Site in New Orleans. Appmximately 1 ,000 people live on top of the landfill and 67 families own their own homes on top of the landfill.

Delisting

Under Section 135(a)(i), the bill proposes a delisting process that will be initiated no later than 180 days after the completion of physical construction to implement the remedy. The initiation of the delisting process after construction completion rather than after remedy implementation completion is totally inappropriate.

Under the most ideal circumstances, implementation of the remedy after construction has been completed encounters snags that were unknown during the planning process. In some cases these problems have required a change in part of the remedy process and required additional construction activities.

Just a few months ago, the soiidification and stabilization portion of the remedy at the Gulf Coast Vacuum Superfund site had to be reevaluated. The waste at the site is biotreated in land treatment units and was to be solidified and stabilized with portland cement. Bench scale tests provided appropriate results. However, when the first field test was executed, the stabilized mixture failed to meet the appropriate standards due to chromium contaminants contained in the portland cement. A search for noncontaminated cement was unsuccessful. The remedy is now being reevaluated utilizing different stabilizing chemicals.

if the delisting process proposed in the bill was in place, this site would have already been delisted. Therefore l would request that the delisting process only occur after the remedy has been implemented and completed.

In the case of delisting a site, the Technical Assistance Grants could be lost due to site delisting. If delisting occurs after construction completion but before the remedy has been implemented and completed the community will be cut out of participation in the critical implementation phase of the process. There is a misconception that once the remedy is selected and construction completed, there is no need for public participation. At all of the Superfund Sites that l have been involved in, there are always situations that arise during remedy implementation that require involvement of the public in resolving the issues to everyone's satisfaction. Please do not initiate a process that prevents public involvement and participation in the remedy implementation phase of the Superfund Process.

State Concurrence

The addition of sites to the National Priorities List can only be accomplished "with the concurrence of the Governor of the State" in which the site is located (SCAA Section 802 (i) (3). In the state of Louisiana the governor has only concurred on one site That site was the Southern Shipbuilding Site in SlideIl. The Southern Shipbuilding site waste was to be treated in the existing Bayou Bonfouca Superfund on-site incinerator and the same contractors were to perform the work. Thus the governor concurrence allowed the local contractors to perform the second Superfund job.

At the other sites investigated and proposed for inclusion on the NPL, the governor did not concur. The failure to concur stopped the Superfund process and put on additional financial burdens on the already over burdened state agency. Even though the majority of the non- concurrence sites would have been PRP funded, the state agency is still responsible for providing financial and technical resources to perform oversight activities. The non-concurrent sites have had little or no progress since the non-concurrence.

The ability of the governor to have the veto over a site being listed on the NPL in inappropriate. It not only puts an additional burden on the state agency if anything is to be accomplished at the site, it also prolongs the exposure of the citizens living and working on or near the site, or consuming seafood and animals contaminated by the site, as is the case of Bayou D'Inde in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.

Limitation on New Sites

The proposed bill establishes a limit on the number of new sites that can be added to the NPL (SCAA Section 802 (i) (1)). The number of sites decreases from 30 in 1997 down to 10 in the year 2000 and each year thereafter.

For states without sufficient funding to address sites that should be fund led, this limit on the number of new sites will be an additional burden. In reality the additional burden will be borne by the citizens living on and adjacent to these sites. The establishment of a limit on the number of new sites should be removed from the bill.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input into this process.