skip navigation
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
PUBLIC GOVERNMENT BUSINESS A to Z LIST

Overview

The mission of the Superfund program is to address contamination at sites where hazardous substances were abandoned, accidentally spilled, or illegally dumped and pose current or future threats to human health or the environment. In New Hampshire, the Superfund program is currently involved in the clean up of twenty sites where the New Hampshire Department of Environmantal Services (DES) provides technical guidance and regultory oversight. This Web site provides links to site-specific information developed by DES staff and links to USEPA webpages that include information about site descriptions, contaminants, cleanup approach, response actions, progress, status, and photos.

The mission of the Superfund program is to address contamination at sites where hazardous substances were abandoned, accidentally spilled, or illegally dumped and pose current or future threats to human health or the environment. In New Hampshire, the Superfund program is currently involved in the clean up of twenty sites where the New Hampshire Department of Environmantal Services (DES) provides technical guidance and regultory oversight. This Web site provides links to site-specific information developed by DES staff and links to USEPA webpages that include information about site descriptions, contaminants, cleanup approach, response actions, progress, status, and photos.

In 1980, the US Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as "Superfund." The term Superfund is derived from the trust fund that was established to pay for cleanup and enforcement activities at sites where the release or threatened release of a hazardous substance may endanger public health, welfare or the environment. CERCLA provided broad federal authority for the government to compel parties responsible for contamination at the nation’s worst abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites to either clean up the contamination or reimburse the government for the costs of doing so.
EPA’s authority and money may be transferred or shared with the states through cooperative agreements that allow state agencies to coordinate the cleanup activities. In New Hampshire, the state agency responsible for Superfund activities is the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES).

The National Oil and Hazardous Substance Contingency Plan (NCP) is the document that guides the application of the Superfund statute. The NCP prescribes a sequential process for conducting remedial response activities at sites where there is a potential threat to human health or the environment. The process outlined in the NCP is designed to identify site contaminants and characteristics, potential receptors that could be exposed to site contaminants, the risks associated with likely exposures, and the appropriate remedial response actions necessary to mitigate unacceptable risks.

For a site to undergo remedial actions under Superfund, it must be included on the National Priority List (NPL). The NPL is a published list of hazardous waste sites that are eligible for extensive, long-term cleanup actions under the Superfund Program. EPA has developed an assessment system called the Hazardous Ranking System (HRS) to evaluate thse dangers posed by hazardous waste sites. Sites are scored according to the danger they may pose to public health or the environment. Sites that score high enough on the HRS are eligible for the NPL. The NPL is also used as an information and program management tool in EPA’s policy to address the "worst first." The NPL currently lists over 1,200 hazardous waste sites across the country that present the greatest risk to public health and welfare or to the environment. To date, twenty sites in New Hampshire have been listed on the NPL and one site, the Mohawk Tannery site in Nashua, has been proposed to be added to the NPL.

Once a site is placed on the NPL, it becomes eligible for remedial studies and cleanup using money from the CERCLA Trust Fund. At this juncture, any potentially responsible parties (PRPs) are given the opportunity participate in the next stages of the process, i.e., the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS). PRPs include entities (individuals, companies, organizations, etc.) which generated, transported, or disposed of hazardous substances at a site and owners of sites where hazardous substances have been released. PRPs are financially responsible for the costs of studying and cleaning up a site, as well as the related administrative and enforcement costs incurred by federal and state agencies. Should the PRPs agree to conduct the RI/FS, they would do so under a legal agreement with EPA and DES and under federal and state oversight. If any PRPs cannot be found, or are unwilling or unable to clean up a site, response actions could be conducted by DES or EPA, and efforts to recover costs could be taken at a later date. At twenty Superfund sites in New Hampshire, regulatory responsibilities for managing cleanup activities, or overseeing cleanup activities conducted by the responsible parties, are shared between DES and EPA depending upon the needs of the site and the personnel available. The lead agency takes on the major role for oversight of all cleanup activities.

Remedial response activities typically begin with a remedial investigation (RI) to assess the extent, nature, and the existing or potential risks of contamination at a site. However, if an emergency situation exists at any point, EPA has the authority to conduct emergency removal actions. Removal actions are short-term, immediate actions intended to stabilize a hazardous incident or remove contaminants from a site that pose an imminent public health threat, such as sudden hazardous waste spills or leaking drums. Removal actions are limited by statute to $2 million in cost and one year in length, though these limits may be waived under extenuating circumstances. Emergency response actions can be requested by state and local officials.

In conjunction with the RI, a feasibility study (FS) is prepared to examine and evaluate various remedial alternatives that may be used to clean up and close a site. Following the RI/FS, EPA chooses one or more of the cleanup alternatives identified in the FS as its proposed plan and gives the public an opportunity to comment before making its final decision on remedial actions for a site. Community involvement is particularly important at this stage since the feedback received at public hearings is one of the factors that must be considered in selecting response actions. The other factors taken under consideration are: the overall protection of human health and the environment; compliance with state and federal standards; long-term effectiveness and permanence; reduction of toxicity, mobility or volume through treatment; short-term effectiveness; implementability; cost; state agency acceptance and community acceptance. Following the public comment period on the proposed plan, a record of decision (ROD) is written. The ROD is a public document that explains which cleanup alternatives will be used to clean up a Superfund site. Comments received on the proposed plan are addressed in the ROD. Following the ROD, the next step is the remedial design (RD), which provides details on how the remedy will be engineered and constructed. Once the RD is completed, the remedial action (RA), i.e., the actual implementation of the selected remedy, begins. When the RA is completed, the state or the PRPs start the post-remedy, long-term monitoring of the site. This can last for a number of years and ensures that the RA has been effective and complete. The national average cost for cleaning up a Superfund site is between $25 million and $30 million.

As part of EPA’s efforts to increase community participation in the Superfund process, technical assistance grants (TAGs) are available under SARA for up to $50,000 to any group of individuals who may be affected by a release or threatened release at any facility that is listed on the NPL. The grants may be used to obtain technical assistance in interpreting information about site risks to the public and the environment and about recommendations for investigation and cleanup throughout each stage of the Superfund process. The recipient is required to contribute at least 20 percent of the total cost of the expert advice. Both the $50,000 ceiling and 20 percent recipient contribution can be waived under certain circumstances. The grants for New Hampshire are administered through the EPA New England office in Boston, Mass. For more information, see Superfund Community Involvement in Grants/Loans.




NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

copyright 2014. State of New Hampshire