The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Tuesday morning that seven sites were partially or completely removed from the agency's list of Superfund sites in 2017.
Three Superfund sites across Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Alabama were removed from the list entirely after the EPA and the states agreed that the clean-up was complete, while only portions of Superfund sites in Wyoming, Missouri, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania were removed.
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has made Superfund clean-ups a priority since taking over the agency while also rolling back its regulatory authority over other areas such as climate change and air and water pollution. Seven Superfund site removals is on par with previous years: While only two sites were removed in 2016, seven were removed in 2015, 15 in 2014, and 12 in 2013.
"By creating a streamlined task force and making major remedy decisions that hold potentially responsible parties accountable for clean up, the Superfund program is carrying out the Agency's mission of protecting human health and the environment more every day," Pruitt said in a statement. The same task force, which Pruitt created over the summer to streamline the agency's clean-up efforts across the nation's more than 1,300 Superfund sites, came under fire last month for its lack of transparency.
In June, the task force issued a report with 42 recommendations, which Pruitt adopted immediately. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an advocacy group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents the task force used to create the plan. In December, an EPA lawyer told the group that the task force generated no records or documents during its meetings other than the final report.