A pump-and-treat system at the Refuse Hideaway Superfund site in Dane County.
- Contact information
- For information about Superfund sites in Wisconsin, contact:
- Gary Edelstein
Remediation & Redevelopment Program
In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as the Superfund law. The Superfund law created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries. The tax went into a trust fund to help pay for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled waste sites.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers the Superfund trust fund and works closely with state and local governments and tribal groups to remediate sites that may endanger public health or the environment. The contamination at many of these sites was created years ago when environmental regulations were virtually nonexistent and companies dumped or emitted hazardous materials freely into the environment. Years later the threat to humans and the ecosystems remains so great that the sites need to be cleaned up.
Unfortunately, since much of this contamination was caused so many years ago, it can be hard to find the parties responsible, or the parties responsible may be unwilling or unable to pay for the cleanup. In these cases, the Superfund trust fund can be used to pay for most of the cleanup process. States must pay for a portion of such cleanups.
Also, in certain situations where contamination poses an imminent threat to the public and/or the environment, EPA will utilize Superfund dollars to address those threats via emergency removals – e.g. a transportation accident – and non-emergency, “time critical” removals (e.g. asbestos contamination). The agency coordinates these removals with Wisconsin DNR – via the Remediation and Redevelopment Program – and local officials. For more information, please see the following fact sheet: Federal Removals Assistance For Local Governments (RR-746).
The CERCLA law also provides EPA with enforcement tools to compel those responsible for causing the contamination to pay for the cleanup, including the issuance of administrative orders. If the trust fund is used, then EPA and the state may go to court to recover their expenditures from those who are responsible.
Superfund National Priority List (NPL) sites in Wisconsin
As of September 2012, 38 sites in Wisconsin were on the NPL. Below are two examples of these sites.
Located in Ashland, Wisconsin, along the Lake Superior shoreline, the Ashland/NSP Lakefront site was placed on the NPL in 2002, with the DNR initially serving as the lead agency. However, U.S. EPA has assumed the lead role in the investigation and remediation of coal tar wastes at the site. A significant amount of investigation has already been completed. For more information, please see our Ashland/NSP page.
Better Brite Chrome and Zinc
Located in DePere in northeastern Wisconsin, the Better Brite Chrome and Zinc Superfund site consisted of two properties where chrome and zinc plating operations occurred for many years. After removal of contaminated soils and the demolition and removal of buildings and other contaminated materials, groundwater treatment began and will continue for many years. Total cost of remediation at the site is estimated at $1.4 million, funded jointly by EPA (90 percent) and DNR (10 percent).
Former NPL sites
The following are former Superfund sites in Wisconsin that have been deleted, i.e. removed from the NPL:
- Fadrowski Drum – Franklin, Milwaukee County
- Northern Engraving - Sparta, Monroe County
- Omega Hills - Menomonee Falls, Waukesha County
- Tomah Fairgrounds - Tomah, Monroe County
- Waste Research and Reclamation – Eau Claire, Eau Claire County
- Wheeler Pit - Janesville, Rock County
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) links
- EPA Superfund page
- Superfund Sites
- Superfund Community Involvement
- EPA Region 5 Superfund Contacts
- Emergency Response and Cleanup Activities
- Superfund Exemptions For Small Waste Generators - There are specific, federal Superfund exemptions for small waste generators and perspective purchasers; information on those exemptions can be found on the EPA web site.