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Cleanup at Superfund Site Opens Up Possibily of Land Reuse

It's always nice to hear some good news! The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just removed a 12-acre site in New York from its Superfund list after a successful clean-up. 

Here's some background on this former-Superfund site:

"The Hiteman Leather Company operated as a tannery on the 12-acre site from 1820 to 1968. By 1964, approximately 180,000 gallons of treated industrial wastewater was being dumped each day from the tannery into three unlined lagoons. The lagoons discharged into the Unadilla River and a nearby wetland. The company was closed in 1968 because it could not meet requirements for the proper management of wastewater. The EPA added the Hiteman Leather site to the Superfund list in 1999 after finding high levels of chromium in the soil on the site and in sediments in the adjacent wetland and river. "

It's terrible to think about the incredibly negative impact this company had on its watershed and nearby wetland. However, I think it's important to celebrate when these sites are finally cleaned up. While they will never reach the environmental quality they had before human impact, the land can be used again, and hopefully, in more environmentally-positive ways.

One of the most popular examples of a former-Superfund site that has been able to accomplish impressive, sustainable feats is Greensgrow here in Philadelphia. Last week at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture's annual conference, Greensgrow was honored as a leader of sustainability. Surely, if you had looked upon that same plot of contaminated land a few decades ago, this sea change in land usage would have been unimaginable.

So while it is easy to focus on the negative past of this Hiteman Leather Company site and other sites like it, I want to take a moment to celebrate when these sites are changed for the better. Hopefully, more and more contaminated sites will be transformed into healthier spaces in the future.

(Source: EPA)

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