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Superfund stigma often a hindrance for development

Superfund sites often face problems with redevelopment.
By David Wolfgang and Leighann C. Manwarren, Staff Writers Published: October 10, 2010

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A "For Sale" sign sits by the fence along side "Ristricted Area" signs at the Superfund site on NW 10th street in Oklahoma City, Okla on Tuesday June 20, 2010. Photo by Mitchell Alcala, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

/> Possibilities slim

Except for the state Environmental Quality Department's periodic checkups, the former landfill and junkyard on NE 10 has been left untouched for years.

Amy Brittain, an agency environmental programs manager, said building on the site is possible but environmental and financial barriers would make it difficult.

“I don't see a lot of possibility for redevelopment soon,” Varga said. “When it is an economically depressed area already, having a Superfund site in the middle of it doesn't help things.”

Success elsewhere

Two Superfund sites in Tulsa County have overcome the stigma.

A site just west of Tulsa was a former limestone quarry before it became a Tulsa city landfill.

Even though it wasn't allowed under land use permit conditions, industrial waste such as jet fuel, acids, bleaches and benzene were dumped there, according to an Environmental Protection Agency report.

Compass Industries owned the site and was among the first entities in the state to complete a Superfund cleanup, said Hal Cantwell, who oversees the site for the state Department of Environmental Quality. The site borders Chandler Park with 192 acres of wooded area.

“Many people don't really know that it was a Superfund site,” Cantwell said. “Now that the remedy is put in place, it's really kind of quiet out there. It is a nice place to go and watch nature.”

The site of the Old Sinclair Refinery on the banks of the Arkansas River also has finished the Superfund process and several industrial businesses operate there.