The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday marked a 13-year record for removing toxic waste sites from the agency's national priority list.
“This remarkable accomplishment is proof that cleaning up contaminated lands and returning them to safe and productive use is a top priority of the Trump EPA,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
The Trump administration has made it a priority to remove these waste sites from its Superfund program's national clean-up list, rather than adding new sites.
“Under President Trump, EPA is deleting Superfund sites from the National Priorities List at the fastest pace in more than a decade,” said Wheeler.
The total number of clean-up sites taken off the list rose to 22 for fiscal year 2018, EPA said, including Wednesday's announcement of the Whitehouse Oil Pits site in Jacksonville, Fla.
"The Whitehouse Oil Pits site is among the largest number of site deletions in one year since FY 2005, and a significant increase over the past few years," the agency said in a statement.
The oil pits comprise an old waste dump once owned by Allied Petroleum in the 1950s and 1960s. EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s priorities list back in 1983 because of contaminated groundwater, soil, surface water, and sediment.
EPA made the announcement as Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida panhandle, which is about 170 miles from Jacksonville.
The agency said in a separate statement that it "stands ready to assist" as it prepares its response to the hurricane's landfall, including monitoring all Superfund sites for damage and flooding that could leak hazardous pollution into the environment.
EPA's Region 4 office has performed a preliminary assessment of all clean up sites in the hurricane's path, the agency said. The list of impacted sites "will continue to evolve" as the storm progresses, EPA said.
EPA Region 4 will coordinate with all affected states and conduct follow-up assessments of the waste sites after the impact of the storm has been determined, the agency said.