Opinion

IN RESPONSE: Denver council members way off base in claims about EPA

Author: Colorado Politics - January 9, 2018 - Updated: January 9, 2018

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A recent article posted on the Colorado Politics website entitled, “Denver Superfund sites, environmental protections, threatened under EPA budget cuts, city councilwomen say,” attributes to two Denver City Council members the assertion that, “ … proposed budget trimming would threaten cleanup and maintenance of several hazardous waste Superfund sites in Denver.”  This claim is inaccurate and not based on any facts or data.

To the contrary, since Administrator Pruitt has taken office, the cleanup at the most serious hazardous waste sites in America has been expedited because of the focus he demanded EPA place on actual cleanup.

More specifically, as to the sites listed by the councilwomen, none are in danger of being defunded. Cleanup at these sites comes through dedicated funding from special accounts. The source of the money in these accounts are the parties responsible for the contamination. EPA ensures that the money in these accounts is spent to protect human health and the environment. It’s irresponsible to suggest to the communities around the Lowry Landfill, the Denver Radium site, the Broderick Wood Products site and the other listed sites that their communities are at risk.

They are not.

In fact, the councilwomen, and their constituents should know that in the past year EPA has:

  • Initiated additional work at the Chemical Sales site to ensure human health and the environment were protected, something we could do because we had the necessary funding.
  • Completed a 5-year review of the Lowry Landfill in Aurora, a site at which Denver, because it is a responsible party, has a financial obligation. That review identified potential additional work to enhance the protectiveness of the remedy. I look forward to working with the councilwomen to ensure that EPA has the resources necessary for “cleanup and maintenance” at this site.

Additionally, in the immediate future we will be performing other intensive studies to ensure that the remedies at each of the sites they mention are in fact working, such as:

  • Undertaking a 5-year review of the protectiveness of the remedy at the Denver Radium site.
  • Conducting a 5-year review of the Vasquez Boulevard/I-70 cleanup.

Public participation and transparency are guiding philosophies for Administrator Pruitt, and we welcome any dialogue with our state and local governments on the progress EPA is making in doing its job. In that spirit, we would like to extend an invitation to the Denver City Council to visit the EPA Region 8 office to discuss these sites and the other work we’re doing to protect the citizens of Colorado.

Douglas H. Benevento
Regional administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Denver

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics, formerly The Colorado Statesman, is the state's premier political news publication, renowned for its award-winning journalism. The publication is also the oldest political news outlet in the state, in continuous publication since 1898. Colorado Politics covers the stories behind the stories in Colorado's state Capitol and across the Centennial State, focusing on politics, public policy and elections with in-depth reporting on the people behind the campaigns — from grassroots supporters to campaign managers and the candidates and issues themselves.