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. Of the eight Oklahoma sites on the National Priorities List, three have reached the construction complete phase:
Hardage/Criner in Criner
Mosley Road in Oklahoma City
Cleanup progress has declined since the early 2000s, according to the EPA. During the last decade, the average time from placement on the National Priorities List to construction completion has grown from 12.5 years to 15.5 years, according to the statement.
The Imperial site was on the National Priorities List for eight years before reaching construction completion.
At least once a year, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality inspects the 72-acre abandoned refinery site covered with trees and grass that is bisected U.S. Highway 142 to ensure cleanup is working.