2005 National Notable Achievement Awards
Remedial Project Manager of the Year
Jim Christiansen is RPM for the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site in Libby, Montana. The contamination that occurs throughout the town and industrial facilities has led to the disease and death of hundreds of residents. The nature of Libby asbestos raises technical problems never encountered previously. The scale of contamination, combined with technical complexities of the unusual and virulent type of asbestos found in Libby, make managing this project exceptionally difficult. EPA commits nearly $20 million to the site annually and approximately 150 people are dedicated to the project. Jim manages and coordinates many groups performing discrete parts of the cleanup activities. In 2004, 170 properties were cleaned up which brings the total over 2 ½ years to 350. Over 50 properties were cleaned up in October alone.
The site has required many innovations. Libby asbestos shows toxic effects at unexpectedly low levels that are often undetectable with Agency-approved methods. Jim designed a performance evaluation study to evaluate methods and developed an entirely new method (PLM visual estimation method) which in terms of sensitivity, ease, and cost far outpaces all others. Using the new method he dramatically reduced sampling and analysis costs.
Given the degree of contamination, Jim needed a program to optimize the best balance between cost, implementability, and effectiveness. Hence he developed multi-tiered strategies and a decision tree for determining the extent of the problem and deciding how to approach it based on results from soil, air, dust, and bulk samples. This approach has allowed him to focus on highest risk with the timely cleanup of properties that the community has prioritized for business and industrial reuse. Jim also created an innovative contracting solution to the problem of high cleanup costs. By requesting fixed price bids from three contractors on each property, he was able to reduce per property cost from an average $42,000 each to about $26,000.
Jim’s negotiation skills have reversed EPA’s adversarial relationship with the site’s PRP so that there is now close cooperation. He also developed a supportive and united community as he moved forward with decisions that affect all of South Lincoln County. In addition to collaborative cleanup efforts, he has pushed for promoting a wide variety of economy boosting activities for Libby. An example is a workshop that was planned around the community’s own economic development activities that had been stalled because of a local lack of expertise, resources, or motivation. Jim and the planners identified experts from all around Montana who could provide the missing pieces and show how to overcome obstacles.
Community Involvement Coordinator of the Year
Trish Taylor was hired straight from college as a Community Involvement Coordinator in Region 3. In her first year, she earned the region’s Federal Executive Board’s “Rookie of the Year Award.” She was singled out not only for her emergency response work, but also for her professional aptitude. In less than a year, she proved herself to be an exceptional Community Involvement Coordinator in the Superfund Program with a unique talent for crisis communications. With her quiet confidence and grace under pressure, Trish successfully managed crises that would challenge even the most seasoned of Community Involvement Coordinators.
When EPA’s emergency response program in Philadelphia was notified of a mercury spill at Ballou H.S. in Washington, DC, Trish was one of the first to arrive to the scene along with her On-Scene Coordinator. Students, handling mercury taken from a science laboratory, had contaminated their clothing and homes, areas of the school, and city buses. While decontamination procedures were carried out, the school was closed and residents with mercury in their homes were relocated. Trish helped arrange temporary relocation for the residents, coordinated information, and answered residents’ questions. She also developed fact sheets about mercury and prepared talking points for her management in Philadelphia and in Washington, D.C.
Following the mercury incident, ricin was found on Capitol Hill. Trish was sent to work in the Headquarter’s Emergency Operations Center and coordinate information from the response back to the regional office. In one of the worst hurricane seasons in U.S. history, FEMA requested community involvement support from EPA. Trish spent two weeks going door-to-door to contact residents and businesses affected by the hurricanes, and was able to help hundreds of people get the information they needed.
Trish is the CIC for one of Region 3’s most complex Superfund sites, Standard Chlorine (a.k.a. Metachem) in New Castle County, Delaware. This site includes a chlorinated benzene chemical manufacturing facility that closed in 2002. One of the solutions for the chemical product still left on the site was to sell it overseas, a legal and environmentally sound decision, but very unpopular with local activists. Trish set up monthly conference calls with her state counterparts and they quickly agreed to a schedule for producing monthly fact sheets. She came up with a plan to have the community submit all their questions in writing to her and she would coordinate the answers and send them back out. She now has the direct attention of the community and has taken the pressure off of the OSC.
Site Assessment Manager of the Year
Carolyn Callihan, Region 4
Carolyn Callihan serves as EPA’s State Site Assessment Coordinator for the State of Georgia managing site assessments under the PA/SI Cooperative Agreement. She has been instrumental in developing closer coordination between Superfund and RCRA, drawing on her past RCRA experience, to develop effective site management strategies to handle complex sites that may be subject to both laws. In her role as Georgia Project Officer for Site Assessment, Carolyn works with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to select sites which will undergo further CERCLA evaluation. She works directly with the assigned EPD project managers, visiting the sites to consult on source identification and sampling locations.
This year, Carolyn launched a Superfund site discovery initiative with Georgia EPD to conduct a thorough examination of the legacy of two centuries of gold mining in North Georgia. This effort involves extensive historic detective work and coordination with other EPA/State programs and the U.S. Department of the Interior to identify any lingering impacts they may have on current water and sediment quality. In another initiative, Carolyn is examining historic industrial and agricultural development to identify now idle industrial and/or agricultural sectors and locations. The project goal is to identify former industry locations which might have been redeveloped into residential or recreational uses, allowing unacceptable human exposure to unidentified hazardous substances.
To promote quality and consistency region-wide in Pre-CERCLIS Screening Assessments (PSA), Carolyn has drafted regional guidance that is now undergoing Region 4 peer review. In promoting the One Cleanup Initiative, Carolyn worked with State and EPA personnel to issue a RCRA Section 3013 Assessment Order to Drexel Chemical. Because of Carolyn’s involvement, the Order fulfills both Superfund’s remaining site assessment needs and RCRA site characterization needs. Carolyn’s efforts have resulted in more efficient use of EPA’s combined resources to achieve Superfund’s goals at this site while avoiding cross-program conflicts and costly duplication of effort. Her foresight allowed EPA to project a unified face to the regulated community and save significant EPA resources.
Leader/Mentor of the Year
As senior advisor for Superfund, John Frisco’s twenty-plus years of experience with hazardous wastes and toxic waste sites have given him tremendous leadership knowledge and skills. He provides advice, support, assistance, and guidance to all levels of Superfund staff, even the regional administrator, as well as to EPA headquarters and other regions. He has taken an active interest in new hires for the division and often interviews prospective hires, recommends placement, and always conducts the new employee orientation. He encourages new employees to come to him with questions and problems.
John plays a major role in coordinating the Superfund remedy selection process. He is consulted on all site remedies and serves as Region 2’s representative on the National Remedy Review Board. John has led the way on using innovative technologies, techniques, and processes. As a result, the region has one of the highest percentages of innovative technology remedies. Ever looking for a better way, he led an effort to review past remedies which had not yet been implemented to determine whether some new technology or technique had been developed which would result in a more suitable remedy.
John is called upon to negotiate many problems and issues. To cite one example, the Corps of Engineers was faced with extensive claims by its construction contractor at the Helen Kramer Landfill site. The Corps, EPA, contractor, and U.S. Department of Justice were unsuccessful in resolving differences, but with John’s help, a settlement was reached. John also led the technical team that negotiated a settlement at the Bridgeport site covering reimbursement of past response costs and performance of future work worth more than $220 million, one of the largest PRP settlements in Superfund history. He also frequently accompanies staff to public meetings to explain the purpose of construction equipment and what is being done to reduce the inconveniences caused by construction in their neighborhoods.
In summary, John is like a free internal consultant for the Superfund division in the region. He unselfishly assists staff in accomplishing their goals while never seeking any personal credit or glory. He is a non-supervisor who truly helps make the division run smoother, often working behind the scenes to get the job done.
Jinky Callado is the Administrative Officer (AO) for the Superfund Division. Her excellent management of the Division’s resources and FTE demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Agency’s budget requirements, data systems, and legal constraints. Jinky’s span of responsibility includes balancing the resources of 180 FTEs under three different appropriations. She has ultimate responsibility for managing the approximately $86.3 million in 32 separate budgets that support the different activities of the office.
Jinky has responsibility for the ongoing oversight of the Region’s site charging. Jinky maintains continuous assessment of which sites are being charged, how much, and by whom. She constantly reviews, corrects, and trains staff on the accurate methods of site charging. Jinky works with management on hiring or reallocating resources. The recent FAIR Act data collection project required the categorization of job functions for each Superfund staff person. Jinky took the lead to develop comprehensive descriptions of each job in the Division. Working closely with Superfund management, she played a pivotal role in capturing data for input to the FAIR Act data submission. This was a time-consuming, confidential, and important effort, and Jinky’s work did a lot to ease the reporting burden of the managers.
Jinky always has the details of the resources at hand, and is able to prepare ad hoc reports at a moment’s notice to answer any question that management has, frequently anticipating problems and urging management toward appropriate decisions. Jinky is the person who initiates new administrative and budget technologies in the division. She has taken the lead in the rollout of new technical requirements, including the implementation of e-forms, Travel Manager upgrades, and PeoplePlus. She is forward thinking, innovative, responsive, has a superior customer service ethic, and is a real asset to the division.
Superfund Team of the Year
New Bedford Harbor is one of the most highly PCB-contaminated Superfund sites in the country. Approximately 880,000 cubic yards of intertidal and subtidal sediments remain contaminated with PCBs in concentrations up to 10,000 ppm. Due to the health hazards from consuming bioaccumulated, PCB-contaminated local seafood, lobstering and fishing have been restricted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1979. Given the location of the site in an urban, environmental justice community with an active subsistence fishing population, the site team has given top priority to conducting significant outreach and community involvement. On the last Thursday of every month the team makes itself available at the site for any interested party to come in and discuss the cleanup or particular concerns.
This fall, the Region began the last phase of the cleanup–full-scale dredging of the Harbor. It is the cornerstone to the City of New Bedford’s long-term reuse plans for revitalization of the waterfront. The team completed construction of a 5-acre dewatering facility on city-owned property. Several complicated business relocations were required (totaling more than $5 million). The dewatering facility is designed for future use by the city as a multi-modal transportation facility once the cleanup is complete. With the start of the full-scale dredging, a national portfields pilot was implemented which worked in conjunction with a ROD enhancement requested by the state for navigational dredging. The state-enhanced remedy involves removing up to two million cubic yards of sediments in and around the navigational channels to make New Bedford a deep water harbor again. This dredging project also enhances the protectiveness of the Superfund remedy by removing lower level PCB-contaminated sediments from the Harbor.
This year the team also coordinated an emergency action and finalized an approach to address the Aerovox facility, the major source of the Harbor PCB contamination. By negotiating with the natural resource trustees, the effort established over $9.5 million in non-Superfund allocations for remediation of the abandoned facility. The team also worked with city officials to ensure that the 10-acre site is remediated in a way that preserves the reuse potential for a 100,000 sq. ft. commercial/industrial facility, as well as public access along a shoreline greenway.
Superfund Team of the Year
North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia have historically been among the top phosphate fertilizer producing states in the country. In the year 2000, a multi-disciplined team from Region 4’s Waste Management Division was formed to identify the “universe” of facilities located in the Region, prioritize each facility based on potential risks posed to human health and the environment, and implement protective response actions where warranted. Region 4’s Virginia Carolina Chemical (VCC) initiative is a collaborative effort among EPA, affected states, and ExxonMobil, successor in interest to VCC’s environmental liabilities. Since its formation, the team has identified, screened, and prioritized 40 former fertilizer facilities. Nine of these facilities were assigned high priority and engineering evaluations/cost analyses (EE/CAs) were completed on four of them in FY 2004. In addition, two time-critical removal actions were completed and three more are underway.
Based on the similarity of the plant designs and operations, the region developed a Model Administrative Order on Consent (AOCs) and Action Memoranda, a standardized dynamic site characterization strategy and streamlined human health and ecological risk assessment, and a presumptive remedy for their Time-Critical and Non-Time-Critical Removal Actions. In addition to the use of innovative on-site sampling and analysis techniques, the Team promotes the use of innovative technologies to address acidic groundwater contaminated with lead and arsenic at the former fertilizer facilities. Utilization of these management strategies not only expedites remedy selection and implementation, but also provides consistency in decision-making.
Many of the sites involved in the initiative are approached with a view to redevelopment that requires a good deal of coordination among community stakeholders, the regulatory agencies, and ExxonMobil and their contractor. The Team has rigorously pursued community outreach activities to ensure understanding and cooperation with the cleanup activities and their potential for creating redevelopment opportunities. The Team continues to look at the VCC initiative as a long-term project because the total number of response actions needed and the scope of those response actions has not yet been fully quantified. Nevertheless, based on the success achieved in the past several years, the Team is optimistic about the overall success of the VCC initiative.
Record of Decision of the Year
The team of Rafael Casanova (lead RPM), Stacey Bennett (co-RPM), and Gary Miller (co-RPM) for the Many Diversified Industries, Inc., (MDI) site located in Houston, Texas, are the winners of the FY 2004 ROD-of-the-Year competition. The ROD for the MDI site best meets the criteria in the Agency’s Guidance on ROD documentation.
The remedy selected in the MDI ROD addresses contaminated soil and groundwater through a variety of remedy components, including excavation, on-site treatment and off-site disposal of soil contaminated with lead and benzo(a)pyrene (B(a)P), and monitored natural attenuation for groundwater contaminated with B(a)P and total petroleum hydrocarbons. Institutional controls will be established for both soil and groundwater.
The MDI ROD follows the Agency’s guidance and is well written and organized in a way that makes the ROD and the remedy selection process easy to read and understand. Well documented sections of the ROD include a site specific description of risk characterization uncertainties with an uncertainty table, detailed groundwater plume maps, excellent tables (e.g., risk and comparative analysis) accompanied by clear text descriptions, and very good descriptions of current and future land and groundwater uses. The ROD also documents the on-going coordination between EPA and the local officials regarding the site’s potential reuse.
The sponsors of the ROD-of-the-Year Contest, the Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation and the Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office, hereby acknowledge the work of Rafael Casanova, Stacey Bennett and Gary Miller, and the management of Region 6, for developing and approving the MDI ROD.
Record of Decision of the Year Honorable Mention
James DiLorenzo (Remedial Project Manager), Cynthia Lewis (Staff Attorney), and Cindy Catri (Team Attorney) receive an Honorable Mention for the Beede Waste Oil Site located in Plainstow, New Hampshire, for FY 2004 ROD-of-the-Year.
The remedy selected in the ROD for the Beede Waste Oil Site addresses surface soils contaminated with PCBs and lead using excavation and off-site treatment. VOC contamination of deeper soils is addressed by on-site vapor extraction. Groundwater contaminated with VOCs and metals is addressed by extraction and treatment. Institutional controls will be established for both soil and groundwater.
Features that make this ROD user-friendly include tables presented within the ROD text and tables created for the Description of Alternatives that highlight the major facts about each alternative. Other well-documented sections include risk tables accompanied by text discussion that follow the guidance, a detailed Selected Remedy description, and a well-defined land use discussion that includes reuse of the site.
The sponsors of the ROD-of-the-Year contest, the Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation and the Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office, hereby acknowledge the work of James DiLorenzo, Cynthia Lewis, Cindy Catri, and the management of Region 1, for developing and approving the Beede Waste Oil ROD.
Record of Decision of the Year Honorable Mention
Christos Tsiamis (Remedial Project Manager) and Joel Singerman (Section Chief) receive an Honorable Mention for the Jackson Steel Site located in Mineola, New York, for the FY 2004 ROD-of-the-Year.
The ROD for the Jackson Steel Site addresses soil and groundwater contaminated with VOCs, SVOCs and metals with a variety of remedy components including excavation and off-site treatment and disposal of contaminated surface soil, soil vapor extraction for deeper soil, and groundwater extraction and treatment by an air stripper and oxidizing agent.
Overall, the ROD is written clearly. Included among the easily understandable sections of the ROD are a thorough Comparative Analysis of Remedial Alternatives, a detailed cost estimate for the Selected Remedy, and a rationale for the Selected Remedy that is clearly written and explicit.
The sponsors of the ROD-of-the-Year contest, the Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation and the Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office, hereby acknowledge the work of Christos Tsiamis and Joel Singerman, and the management of Region 2, for developing and approving the Jackson Steel ROD.
2005 Ceremony Summary | 2005 Ceremomy Pictures
Federal Facility Response | Underground Storage Tanks | Superfund | Emergency Management | Regional Science | Environmental Justice | Superfund Enforcement | RCRA Corrective Action | Resource Conservation Challenge | Cross-Program Revitalization | Brownfields |