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Cleanup is slow process for Oklahoma sites

By Hailey Branson-Potts, Staff Writer Published: October 10, 2010
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ARDMORE — The backhoes and the white Environmental Protection Agency mobile home are gone.

The Imperial Refinery Company Superfund site in Ardmore is quiet. All cleanup actions and waste removal at the site are complete, according to an Environmental Protection Agency statement.

It's a major milestone, according to the statement.

But it is not an indication it will be quickly deleted from the National Priorities List, a listing of the nation's most contaminated areas.

The average time between construction completion and deletion from the list is 7.6 years for the five Oklahoma sites that have been deleted from the list, according to an analysis by The Oklahoman. Sites remained on the list between three and 12 years after construction completion.

“One of the challenges with the Superfund program is that even when a site is nearing completion, there are a number of years where monitoring needs to take place,” said Matt Dempsey, spokesman for Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa. Inhofe is a ranking member for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

“There are a lot of opportunities to improve the efficiency,” Dempsey said. “We want to make sure sites are cleaned up as quickly as possible so we can save taxpayer resources at the same time.”

Of the more than 1,600 sites that have been placed on the National Priorities List in the 30 years since it was established, about 1,100 — or two-thirds of the sites — have reached the construction complete phase.

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