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Collinsville zinc smelting site repurposed as honeybee habitat deleted from EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List

Collinsville zinc smelting site repurposed as honeybee habitat deleted from EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Monday, Oct. 5, that the organization in Fiscal Year 2020 deleted all or part of 27 sites from the Superfund National Priorities List.

The Tulsa Fuel and Manufacturing Superfund site in Collinsville was included on EPA’s latest list, marking the third year in a row that the agency has deleted a historically high number of Superfund sites.

Collinsville’s former zinc smelter was placed on the NPL of contaminated sites in 1999, and following extensive cleanup and monitoring, now hosts bee colonies for local honey companies.

EPA deletes sites or parts of sites from the NPL when no further cleanup is required to protect human health or the environment. Years, and sometimes decades, of complex investigation and work have gone into developing these sites to where they are today.

“Cleanup and deletion from the NPL helps communities move forward, allowing land to be repurposed and reused in more productive ways,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a news release. “We’re proud of the progress we’ve made.”

Cleanup at the Collinsville location included consolidating 186,000 cubic yards of smelter wastes and contaminated soil and sediment into a 10-acre capped containment cell. The restored cap was replanted with a mix of native grasses and clover, an ideal habitat for honeybees.

Today, the Shadow Mountain Honey Company, in partnership with Ide’s Gary Avenue Gold Honey, uses the site to house about 30 hives — all rescued and relocated from places where the swarms presented a nuisance and would have been exterminated. The companies plan to use the site to relocate more swarms in the future, helping to sustain the area’s pollinator population.

In July 2019, the EPA and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality recognized Collinsville’s former Superfund site with EPA’s Greenovations award. The accolade honors outstanding efforts in site reuse that emphasize sustainability, green remediation and alternative and renewable energy use.

During the first term of the Trump Administration, EPA has deleted all or part of 82 sites from the NPL, matching the site year total over two terms of the previous administration. This past year, in FY 2020, EPA continued to achieve a historically high rate of deletions with 14 full sites and parts of 13 additional sites, for a total of 27 deletion activities.

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