EPA Action: Acquisition of wetlands in Staten Island an eco-smart investment

Also in this report: Utility leaders commit to energy efficiency; Govt., Asarco agree on Wash. site cleanup; Rocky Mountain Arsenal off Superfund list; New EPA facility flashes 'green'; Oswego River a Great Lakes milestone; Boston airport gets water permit; Maine's Casco Bay first for 'no discharge'; R.I. coastline gets water quality funding; N.Y.'s Consolidated Iron & Metal cleanup proposed; Chicopee, Mass., addresses wastewater discharge; EPA, Halaco Engineering agree on Oxnard site cleanup...

In other news below:
-- Utility sector leaders make firm commitment to energy efficiency
-- Government, Asarco, Point Ruston agree on cleanup of contaminated Wash. site
-- Rocky Mountain Arsenal's Internal Parcel removed from Superfund list
-- New EPA facility flashes green, wins gold
-- Removal of Oswego River from polluted areas list a milestone for Great Lakes
-- Boston's Logan International Airport receives draft water permit
-- Maine's first 'no discharge' designation made for Casco Bay
-- Water quality funding provided for Rhode Island coastline
-- N.Y.'s Consolidated Iron and Metal site cleanup plan proposed
-- Chicopee, Mass., agrees to address wastewater discharges and pay $115,000 fine
-- EPA, Halaco Engineering agree to initial cleanup at site in Oxnard, Calif.
-- Maine oil facility faces fine for lack of oil spill preparedness
-- Enforcement actions brought against five New England marina, boatyard facilities
-- Cleanup proposed for chromium contaminated groundwater in N.Y.'s Puchack Well Field
-- Innovative technologies proposed to clean up N.J.'s Bridgeport Rental & Oil Services site
-- Fallon County, Mont., cited for unauthorized discharges, wetlands destruction at Baker Lake
-- Cleanup plan proposed for N.Y.'s Lawrence Aviation site
-- Kraft Foods resolves two environmental cases at Woburn, Mass., facility
-- Tannery Bay/St. Marys River receives $8 million for Mich. cleanup
-- Agency continues to sample the Murphy Oil site in New Orleans

Acquisition of wetlands in Staten Island an eco-smart investment; deal result of EPA settlement -- NEW YORK, NY, Aug. 1, 2006 -- An ecologically critical 16-acre tract of tidal wetlands in northwest Staten Island will be preserved as the result of a 2002 Consent Decree with the former Mobil Oil Corporation negotiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, the agency announced July 26. The tract, located on the west shore of Staten Island at the intersection of the Arthur Kill and Neck Creek near Meredith Avenue, is across the West Shore Expressway from Meredith Woods Park. New York City will take over responsibility for its protection. Ultimately, the land will be accessible to the public.

Wetlands serve as a natural filter to harmful chemicals in our waters. They provide storm protection and erosion control, as well as food and habitat to numerous fish and other wildlife. About 80% of the harbor's tidal wetlands and underwater lands have been lost to filling, dredging, and other human activities. The acquisition of this property is a key incremental step in the preservation of the remaining ecologically important sites. The action is consistent with the goal set in 2003 by the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program, a multi-stakeholder program authorized by the Clean Water Act, that aims to acquire or preserve 2,700 acres of habitat by 2009.

"Preservation of tidal wetlands is a top environmental goal of the Bush Administration," EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said. "Acquiring this particular marsh in the New York City Harbor area is a smart investment for the local ecology and the citizens of Staten Island."

"Today's acquisition provides significant environmental benefits for the community and demonstrates our steadfast commitment to preserve the delicate balance of our ecosystem," stated United States Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf.

"Staten Island's tidal wetlands are referred to as the "Everglades of New York City," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "They serve as feeding ground for 40 percent of the wading birds, such as herons and egrets in the region. This acquisition brings us closer to completely protecting the entire tidal wetland system in the area."

The $1 million used to purchase the tract of wetland is part of a 2002 Consent Decree between the federal government and the Mobil Oil Corporation(now Exxon/Mobil) involving an extremely significant hazardous waste case. In that case, the United States alleged that the Mobil Oil Corporation illegally stored and disposed of benzene-contaminated wastes at Port Mobil, a major petroleum product storage and distribution terminal in the Arthur Kill section of Staten Island. In addition to requiring that Exxon/Mobil acquire or restore environmentally sensitive lands associated with the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary, the Consent Decree required that Exxon/Mobil admit liability and pay a penalty of $8.2 million. Exxon/Mobil is obligated to spend an additional $2 million on the acquisition or restoration of land associated with the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary for purposes of preservation. For more on wetlands, go to: www.epa.gov/region02/water/wetlands

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a non-profit organization that negotiated and facilitated the real estate transaction, selected the wetland from a list of desirable sites compiled by federal, state, local government and environmental groups. TPL identified the site as a critical acquisition priority in its 2001 study, "An Islanded Nature", a joint publication with the NYC Audubon Society.

Utility sector leaders make firm commitment to energy efficiency -- Dow Chemical, Johnson Controls among signatories -- SAN FRANCISCO, CA, July 31, 2006 -- Over 80 energy, environmental and other organizations across 33 states announced commitments and public statements in support of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (NAPEE), released today, which provides energy consumers and providers information on policies and techniques to save money as well as protect the environment. By adopting the plan's recommendations on low-cost, under-used energy efficiency, Americans could save hundreds of billions of dollars on their gas and electric utility bills, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and lower the costs for energy and pollution controls. Participating in its development was the U.S. Department of Energy, EPA and a leadership group of over 50 organizations, which was co-chaired by Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy and president of the Edison Electric Institute, and Commissioner Diane Munns, member of the Iowa Public Utility Board and president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. The leadership group includes 23 electric and gas utilities, 16 state agencies, and 12 other organizations, with 15 organizations observing the work of the leadership group...

Government reaches agreement with Asarco, Point Ruston to clean up contaminated Wash. site -- WASHINGTON, DC, July 27, 2006 -- The federal government reached an agreement today which will help to protect the health and the environment of Tacoma and Ruston-area citizens by expediting the estimated $28 million cleanup of the Asarco Smelter Site in Tacoma and Ruston, Wash. The agreement will allow Asarco to sell the Asarco Smelter property which is part of the Commencement Bay Nearshore/Tideflats Superfund Site, to Lacey Washington-based developer Point Ruston LLC. This ensures that the cleanup work required on the approximately 97 acquired acres of contaminated land will be completed. Under this agreement, Point Ruston will assume all cleanup obligations on the property owned by Asarco and assume significant cleanup obligations on adjacent land which was also contaminated by Asarco's past operations...

Among other recent EPA headlines:
-- "EPA removes Rocky Mountain Arsenal's Internal Parcel from Superfund list" (7/31/2006)
-- "New EPA facility flashes green, wins gold" (7/26/2006)
-- "Oswego River removed from list of polluted areas; historic milestone for efforts to cleanup the Great Lakes" (7/25/2006)
-- "Boston's Logan International Airport receives draft water permit - EPA seeks community input" (7/25/2006)
-- "Maine's first 'no discharge' designation made for Casco Bay" (7/20/2006)
-- "In heat of beach season, EPA provides major funding to monitor, improve quality of Rhode Island coastline" (7/14/2006)

Among EPA enforcement actions:
-- "EPA proposes cleanup plan for N.Y.'s Consolidated Iron and Metal site" (7/31/2006)
-- "Chicopee, Mass., agrees to address wastewater discharges and pay $115,000 fine" (7/28/2006)
-- "EPA, Halaco Engineering agree to initial cleanup at site in Oxnard, Calif." (7/31/2006)
-- "Maine oil facility faces EPA fine for lack of oil spill preparedness" (7/28/06)
-- "EPA brings enforcement actions against five New England marina and boatyard facilities" (7/26/2006)
-- "EPA proposes plan to clean up chromium contaminated groundwater in N.Y.'s Puchack Well Field" (7/26/2006)
-- "EPA proposes innovative technologies to clean up N.J.'s Bridgeport Rental & Oil Services site" (7/21/2006)
-- "EPA cites Fallon County, Mont., for unauthorized discharges, wetlands destruction at Baker Lake" (7/20/2006)
-- "EPA proposes cleanup plan for N.Y.'s Lawrence Aviation site" (7/19/2006)
-- "Kraft Foods resolves two environmental cases by agreeing to pay penalties, perform environmental project at Woburn, Mass., facility" (7/13/2006)
-- "Tannery Bay/St. Marys River receives $8 million for Mich. cleanup" (7/13/2006)
-- "EPA continues to sample the Murphy Oil site in New Orleans" (7/13/2006)

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In earlier EPA Action reports: "EPA Action: Agency to infuse $1 billion into drinking water programs" -- Also in this report (July 12, 2006): Revised rule proposed for lead in drinking water; Grants totaling $3 million available for Gulf of Mexico projects; Connecticut's Coastal Beach Monitoring Program gets $223,370 EPA boost; Agency increases beach monitoring during New Jersey government shutdown; EPA Administrator visits McClelland Mine to advance watershed cleanup efforts; Ariz. tribe receives award for cleaning up environment; New funding helps ensure healthy beaches in Mass., N.H.; Proposed changes to Ohio drinking water rules will better protect public health; Idaho wastewater discharge permits to fish processors to feature 'pollutant trading' option; Agency releases latest beach monitoring figures; Mass. recycling facility facing fines for clean water violations; Guam Waterworks Authority fined $55,000 for lack of water system master plan; Nogales, Ariz., fined for drinking water violations; Clean Water Act violations settled with two Alaska seafood processors; Landowner fined $5,000 for wetlands violations in Douglas, Alaska; Hood River cherry farmer agrees to restore wetlands...

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