||Reusing Superfund Sites
Superfund Sites Have Been Safely and Productively Reused
Communities Have Benefited From Reusing Superfund Sites
Communities Can Find Out More About Reuse
Silicon Valley, Netscape Communications opened a new office campus,
allowing the software company to expand its World Headquarters, and
the local community to enjoy the benefits of 1,600 software development
jobs. Across the country in Virginia, two parks are added to the York
County recreational system providing thousands of residents with a
new place to play softball and soccer.
Farther to the south, a critical maintenance and repair center
is built for the Dade County, Florida, rail system ensuring fast
and reliable train service for over 50,000 daily commuters in the
Miami metropolitan area. Up in the Mountain Northwest, outdoor enthusiasts
come from miles around to enjoy a 2,500-acre wetlands area in Montana's
Warm Springs Ponds which also provides an important habitat for
migrating Canada geese and a breeding ground for dozens of songbird
And in West Dallas, Texas, an abandoned strip mall is renovated
and the first major supermarket ever built in the area opens for
business. In addition to fulfilling a critical need for the residents
of this inner-city neighborhood, the new supermarket serves as a
catalyst to bring even more development to this low income community,
including the building of public service facilities and hundreds
of new homes.
Upper Left: Trout fishing at the Silver
Bow Creek/Warm Springs Pond site (Butte, Montana).
Upper Right: Children's soccer at the Chisman Creek site (York
Lower Left: Netscape World Headquarters at the Fairchild Semiconductor
site (Mountain View, California).
Lower Center: New supermarket at the RSR Corp. site (West Dallas,
Lower Right: Commuter trains maintained at the Miami Drum Services
site (Dade County, Florida).
Five very different
success stories from five different areas of the country. But they
have one surprising thing in common. All were built on cleaned up
Many people still think of Superfund sites as permanent toxic wastelands
in the middle of their communities. There are vivid memories of
more than 500 families having to leave their homes when the entire
town of Times Beach, Missouri, had to be closed because of the discovery
of dioxin. And in Love Canal, New York, more than 900 families had
to be relocated when hazardous wastes leached from an industrial
landfill contaminating nearby homes. Superfund evokes images of
workers in "moon suits" and areas fenced off with large
"Danger–Keep Out" signs.
That was the 1980s. Two decades later, much has changed. In Times
Beach, 265,000 tons of dioxin-contaminated soil was dug up and incinerated.
Thanks to new habitat management practices, Times Beach is now an
extensive bird sanctuary and migratory bird waterway. At Love Canal,
cleanup activities included demolition of the contaminated houses
and construction of a specially designed system that permanently
entombs the toxic materials. As a result, all contamination is safely
contained. Families are now moving back into the area and more than
200 new homes have been sold.
Bird sanctuaries. Revitalized neighborhoods. These are the new
images of Superfund. Other images include Jack Nicklaus teeing off
at a golf course that he designed at a closed copper smelter in
Montana. Or a Home Depot opening at a site that was once a radium
processing plant – bringing new jobs and income to a disadvantaged
community near downtown Denver.
Areas that were once dangerous are now being cleaned up and turned
into office parks, playing fields, industrial centers, shopping
centers, residential areas, tourist centers, and wetlands. Sites
that were once abandoned or underused have now become valuable community
resources. Areas that once helped to pull the local economy down
are now generating new tax revenue and serving as catalysts for
Over 240 sites have been reused and many
more are expected to be in use soon.
||There have been more
than 240 success stories at Superfund sites in all areas of the
country – over 130 of them involving totally new uses for
a site. But this is just the beginning. These successes will be
repeated at hundreds of other Superfund sites in the next few years.
One could be at a site in your community.
||How Superfund Sites Have Been Safely and Productively
||The stories of successful
reuse differ because communities differ. Reuse of each Superfund site
begins and ends with the needs of the particular community in which
the site is located.
Golf and Smelter Slag? Nicklaus Shows How It "Works"
It wasn't Jack Nicklaus who first decided to build the
Old Works Golf Course at a shut-down copper smelting facility in
Anaconda, Montana. It was the people of Anaconda working together
with their local government, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), and the owner of the site, the Atlantic Richfield Company
The Anaconda Smelter was the backbone of the local economy for
a century. When it shut down in 1980, hundreds of people were out
of work. The smelter also left behind an environmental legacy of
more than 1.5 million cubic yards of soil, slag, and flue dust contaminated
with heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc.
People were worried that Anaconda would turn into an economic ghost
Rather than suffer this fate, the Anaconda community, ARCO, and
EPA formed a partnership – not only to clean up the site –
but to preserve its historic significance and allow for redevelopment.
They considered a number of options, but one day, Gene Vuckovich,
the Anaconda city and county manager, asked: "Why don't
you make a golf course out of it?" His proposal was first
met with "a few chuckles" and some skepticism, but in
time, the partnership agreed.
Anaconda Then: Shut-down copper smelter
Anaconda Now: Jack Nicklaus in "sland"
A key component of the success in reusing the site as a golf course
was the participation of Jack Nicklaus. As Anaconda city and county
manager Vuckovich put it: "I think we interviewed seven of
the ten top golf course designers in the country and we chose Jack
Nicklaus. We didn't want just any old course, we wanted a world
As designer, Nicklaus took advantage of the areas's spectacular
mountain vistas and preserved many of the unique historic characteristics
of the former smelting site. He used one of those characteristics
to create the most distinctive aspect of the course. Nicklaus decided
not to fill the bunkers with ordinary white sand, but instead with
black "sland" – an inert and harmless sand-like
slag left behind by the smelter's furnaces. Besides providing
players with the unique challenge of hitting their wayward balls
out of "sland" traps, these black bunkers add to the
striking visual appeal of the golf course.
In the end, the partnership between the people of Anaconda, ARCO,
EPA, and Nicklaus created a course that Golf Journal praised as
"world class . . . with 18 fascinating holes."
Cleanup of the Anaconda Smelter site paved the way for construction
of a world class golf course
Internet Communicators Replace Ground Contaminators
One thousand miles to the southwest in Mountain View, California,
there was a different community with a different need. So that
community came up with a different reuse for a former Superfund
Mountain View is not a depressed community in need of economic
revitalization. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Mountain
View is at the center of America's high-tech economic boom.
Real estate in Mountain View is among the most valuable in the country.
All the more reason not to allow 56 acres of that precious real
estate to lie idle. The Fairchild Semi-conductor Superfund site
was once the home of more than a dozen computer firms that used
solvents daily in their manufacturing process. Hundreds of gallons
of these solvents were spilled into the soil and groundwater over
a 20-year period. In 1981, the State of California discovered contamination
in the underlying aquifer that provided drinking water for 270,000
Fairchild Semiconductor- Then: Excavating
Fairchild Semiconductor- Now: New campus
of Netscape's World Headquarters
To clean up and redevelop the Fairchild site, a partnership was
formed between the Mountain View community, EPA, the State of California,
the City of Mountain View, and Keenan-Lovewell Ventures, a local
real estate developer. To ensure public safety, it was necessary
to excavate and treat more than 1,700 cubic yards of contaminated
soil. The cleanup also involved removing several underground storage
tanks, and constructing groundwater treatment plants on the property.
As the cleanup proceeded, Keenan-Lovewell began plans to build
office developments at the former Fairchild site. The first occupant
was high-tech giant, Netscape Communications. Netscape used this
property to add a new facility to its World Headquarters –
an office complex that resembles a park or a college campus more
than the workplace of 1,600 top executives, programmers, marketers,
and testers. Complete with cascading fountains and acres of lush
greenery, this once-contaminated industrial site now adds beauty
to the Mountain View community while also adding substantial income
to the local economy.
These are the stories of Anaconda and Mountain View. And their
stories are being repeated at communities all over the country.
Properties that once lay idle – drains on the local economies
– are now being put back into productive use. Areas that were
once dangerous and off-limits are now places where people can safely
work and play. These are only some of the benefits for a community
that decides to redevelop and reuse a Superfund site.
||How Communities Have Benefited From Reusing Superfund
Development in Mountain View
The benefits to Mountain View in redeveloping the Fairchild site
were immediate. The office campus at the former Superfund site is
an expansion of Netscape's World Headquarters. The high-tech executives
and employees who work at the Netscape campus collectively earn more
than $153 million annually infusing over $122 million of personal
spending into the economy and providing more than $11 million in
local and state taxes.
However, the benefits to Mountain View in redeveloping the Fairchild
site do not stop with Netscape. Other firms are either leasing
space or building their own office developments on the former Superfund
site. The firms read like a Who's Who of the "old" and "new" economies:
America Online, Veritas Software, Hewlett-Packard, Open TV, Nokia,
Micro Focus, Synopsys, and KPMG Peat Marwick. By 1999, all the
available office space had been leased and most of the remaining
property was at some stage of development.
||A New Sense
of Pride in Anaconda
In Anaconda, the benefits of reuse are harder to measure, but just
as important. Anaconda was historically a one-factory town and that
factory closed down. Unemployment was high and many in the community
worried that their town would not survive.
The Old Works Golf Course not only provides a new place for the
residents of Anaconda to exercise and have fun – but has also
created a new sense of pride in the community. What's more,
the golf course is becoming a tourist magnet. People come from miles
around because they have heard about the unique and beautiful Jack
Nicklaus- designed course. They come to play golf – and find
out that the area also offers excellent skiing, fishing, hiking,
and hunting. So they come back.
More than just golf – Hikers on a trail
that highlights Anaconda's smelting heritage.
As the recreational opportunities have increased, new jobs have
been generated. The new opportunities have also led to a rise in
property values around the Old Works Golf Course and an increase
in business investments. What's more, this attention to the
recreational opportunities of the area has created a renewed respect
for its ecology. The once-barren landscape is slowly being restored
to its former beauty. Trout once again fill Warm Springs Creek,
and the plant and animal life are flourishing.
New jobs. New recreational opportunities. Higher property values.
More income to the community. A new sense of pride. These are just
some of the benefits of reusing Superfund sites.
New Uses for Sites Around the Country
This graph shows the distribution of the 240 Superfund use success
stories among the six types of reuse. Because more than one
type of productive use may be present at a site, the number of uses
adds up to more than 240.
Sites can be reused in many ways. Most are put into commercial
use after cleanup; others are reused for recreational, ecological,
residential, public service or agricultural purposes. Often a cleaned-up
site will be home to more than one type of reuse. For example, there
may be an area of retail stores with neighboring ball fields. These
multi-use sites can bring a great variety of economic and quality-of-life
benefits to communities.
- Commercial Use.
Netscape's transformation of the Fairchild site into a high-tech
office campus is a good illustration of commercial use, but it
is only one of many examples. Former Superfund sites (many in
economically-troubled areas) are now the location of retail stores,
small businesses, franchises, family-run restaurants, industrial
parks, shopping centers, and manufacturing plants. In fact, 164
sites are in some form of commercial use.
- Recreational Use.
The Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course at the former Anaconda
smelter may have received the most attention, but there are 33
other sites where communities have developed properties for recreational
use. Besides golf courses, communities have created playgrounds,
parks, boat launches, campgrounds, ski slopes, and playing fields
for soccer, baseball, and soft-ball.
- Ecological Use.
The once-notorious Times Beach is now a bird sanctuary thanks
to a decision by the State of Missouri and several local interest
groups to increase the amount of green space along the Meremac
River and develop the site as a park. At 34 other sites, there
has been a similar focus on ecological use. New wetlands, wildlife
sanctuaries, and wilderness areas have been created in places
that were once contaminated and barren. Rivers, lakes, bayous,
bays, and streams have been restored to their natural condition.
- Public Service Use.
In Florida, the Miami Drum Services site has been redeveloped
as the William Lehman Operations and Maintenance Center providing
a crucial repair facility used by the Dade County rail system
to effectively serve over 50,000 commuters a day. In nearby Georgia,
a portion of the Woolfolk Chemical Plant has been restored as
a public library. Similar public services are provided at an additional
24 sites. Other types of public service uses include visitors'
centers, schools, and many different types of public works facilities.
- Residential Use.
Following the successful cleanup at Love Canal, more than 200
new homes have been built on this formerly desolate landscape.
At 19 other sites, communities are developing once-contaminated
properties as single-family homes or using them for apartments,
condominiums, or assisted-care housing.
- Agricultural Use.
At ten sites, the land is being used for activities such as growing
crops and providing pasture for livestock. For example, when the
Silver Mountain Mine in Washington closed, it left behind 7,000
tons of cyanide-laced mine tailings and a basin filled with 20,000
gallons of cyanide-contaminated water. A partnership between EPA,
the State of Washington, the local community, and a local rancher
resulted in the cleanup and containment of the cyanide contamination
which made it possible to once again use portions of the site
as grazing land for cattle.
||One New Use
Leads to Another
In Anaconda, the golf course may be categorized as recreational use,
but simply calling it "recreational" tells only part of
the story. Golfers who come to the Old Works pay a variety of charges,
such as "greens" fees, rentals, and concessions. Also,
since many of those golfers come from out of town, they stay at local
motels and eat at local restaurants. All this generates income for
So this recreational use also provides new commercial opportunities.
And, in the case of Anaconda, these new recreational and commercial
opportunities caused the community to have a new respect for the
area's natural surroundings.
In Mountain View, the commercial redevelopment of the former Fairchild
site is just one part of a larger plan by the city to link a nearby
residential community with the high-tech job center that now occupies
the former Superfund site. Plans are underway to build light rail
stations, parks, biking trails, and open spaces so that there will
be connections (most of them walkable) between where the residents
of Mountain View live, work, and play.
Each community decides how far and how wide the benefits of reusing
a Superfund site will extend. The particular uses will depend on
the needs and desires of your community.
||Where Communities Can Find Out More About Reuse
||As Charlie Coleman,
the EPA Project Manager for the Anaconda site, put it: Superfund reuse
is "win-win-win." All the parties came out ahead in the
Anaconda agreement – and this same all-around success is possible
whenever a Superfund site is reused. Reuse helps to protect human
health and the environment. It makes land productive (and sometimes
beautiful) again. And reuse gives communities a new resource to enhance
the ways they live, work, and play.
There have been more than 240 Superfund site use success stories.
Hundreds more are expected in the next few years. To help your community
become one of these success stories, here is where you can find
out more information about the subjects discussed in this article:
General Sources of Information on Superfund Reuse
Superfund Redevelopment Initiative website
For questions about reuse, either call the Superfund Hotline at
1-800-424-9346 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources of Specific Information on Topics Discussed in This Article:
Superfund Sites Have Been Safely and Productively Reused
Technologies Screeing Matrix and Reference Guide
EPA Can Help Communities
||Adapted from Enviromental
Protection Ageny's Superfund
Redevelopment Program Web site, October 2003.