35 Years of Superfund: Stringfellow Site Cleanup

35 Years of Superfund: Stringfellow Site Cleanup


[MUSIC] NARRATOR: EPA is celebrating the 35th anniversary
of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, otherwise
known as the Superfund law. The Stringfellow Superfund site is the first, and is one of
the largest Superfund sites in EPA’s Pacific Southwest Regional office. It’s located in
Riverside County, in the town of Jurupa Valley, in California. Daewon Rojas-Mickelson: It was added to the National Priority Listing in 1983. The site ID is 0901, which
indicates it is the very first site in Region 9. The site is a former hazardous waste landfill
that operated from 1956 until 1972. More than 32 million gallons of liquid industrial wastes
were disposed in unlined ponds, including acids, caustics, metals, solvents, and pesticide
byproducts. [Thunder and rain] NARRATOR: When the site would overflow, liquid
contamination would flow into the community, eventually exposing children in an elementary
school to a variety of toxic chemicals. Penny Newman: These were
very dangerous chemicals. My two boys, being little boys, were playing in the puddles and
splashing around. We had kids there making beards out of the foam, and the youngest one,
who was the one who played in the puddles and was into everything, would come home from school
talking about being dizzy and having blurred vision, and he started experiencing seizures. [Music] Viola Cooper: The community started organizing and having community meetings and this is where we saw
Penny move forward, and just be that community leader. Penny Newman: It changed
my life. We need to not just sit back and let people or let agencies do things. We have
a responsibility to make sure that things are done correctly. Viola Cooper: Out of Penny’s hard work, we modeled the Technical Assistance Grants Program — the TAG Program.
If it wasn’t for Penny rising up at that moment we wouldn’t be where we are today. Daewon Rojas-Mickelson: To prevent any chance of future spills into Pyrite Creek, the remaining liquid wastes
were pumped from the disposal ponds in the late 70s. Contaminated soil was excavated
and a groundwater extraction and treatment system was installed in the canyon to prevent
contaminated groundwater from reaching the community south of the site. While there is
more work to do, EPA is proud of the progress that has been made with our state partners
and that the current remedy is protective of human health and the environment. Penny Newman: The staff
that is there, I have great respect for them. Viola Cooper: I think that’s the most important part, is for us to listen and then get that feedback,
and that’s that feedback and that input process that Superfund is all about. Penny Newman: You know, our democracy really works, and it only works if people are involved. [Music] NARRATOR: Looking back on 35 years of Superfund
we’ve made a great deal of progress at Stringfellow and at other Superfund sites. And EPA is looking forward to continuing the great
work with our communities, to protect human health and the environment. [MUSIC]

Author: Kevin Mason

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