Stabenow, Peters and Moolenaar Send Letter to the EPA on St. Louis Burn Pit Cleanup

March 4, 2015
Press Release

This week, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, and U.S. Representative John Moolenaar sent a joint letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy concerning the clean-up of the Velsicol Burn Pit Superfund site in St. Louis, Michigan. 

The letter notes that the EPA failed to detail plans for real-time monitoring of the site over the long-term and calls for the agency to develop a cleanup plan that gives strong consideration to the views of St. Louis residents.

In the letter, the three officials write:

"We share the community’s concerns and commitment to protect human health and the environment. We ask that any final remedy ensure the health and safety of St. Louis residents and allow for the restoration of the economic and recreational potential of the property."

The burn pit Superfund site is a five-acre parcel of land in St. Louis. It became eligible for federal cleanup funding in 2010.

A copy of the letter sent to Administrator McCarthy is below:

The Honorable Gina McCarthy
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

We write regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed plan for the cleanup of the Velsicol Burn Pit Superfund Site located in St. Louis, Michigan. As you know, for more than a decade this site was used by the Michigan Chemical Company, and later the Velsicol Chemical Company, as a place to burn and dispose of industrial waste, including the pesticide DDT. This industrial pollution contaminated the soil and surrounding groundwater. We encourage the agency to address the concerns of local officials and citizens before finalizing its proposed plan to remove industrial pollution from the site.

In recent public comments submitted to the EPA by the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force and the city of St. Louis, citizens expressed concerns that the EPA’s proposed cleanup plan for the site did not contain enough detail for the community to make an informed decision. The document fell short in its failure to plan for real-time monitoring during remediation; its lack of confirmation sampling after the EPA’s planned treatment is finalized; its reliance on a pumping system proposed for another site, but not yet installed; and its failure to plan for long-term monitoring of the site.  

We share the community’s concerns and commitment to protect human health and the environment. We ask that any final remedy ensure the health and safety of St. Louis residents and allow for the restoration of the economic and recreational potential of the property.

According to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the EPA must meet nine criteria when choosing a remedy for a Superfund site, one of which is community acceptance. As the EPA works to finalize a cleanup plan for the site, we ask the agency to give strong consideration to the voice of the community as well as maintain a transparent and inclusive process.  

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention and response to this matter.

Sincerely,

Debbie Stabenow
U.S. Senator

Gary Peters
U.S. Senator

John Moolenaar
U.S. Representative

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