- Associated Press - Sunday, May 11, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The list of hazardous wastes sites in Arkansas eligible to receive federal funding for cleanup has grown to 15.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that a former refinery site in Union County was being added to the National Priorities List, according to a story published Sunday in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette (http://bit.ly/1oFDXts ).

The National Priorities List identifies abandoned industrial sites thought to be most in need of immediate cleanup because they pose contamination risks to area water, soil or air.

MacMillian Ring Free Oil operated at the site, located in south-central Arkansas, until 1987. The property then traded hands several times and was used for industrial manufacturing involving the production or use of hazardous materials.

The EPA and Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality began to get involved in 1990, when an emergency order was issued for removal of asbestos there.

The site was placed on the State Priority List by the Department of Environmental Quality in 2010, said Tammie Hynum, chief of the department’s hazardous waste division.

When the cost of cleaning up a site exceeds what the state can manage through a trust fund set up funded through the enforcement of fines, department administrators appeal to the EPA to be placed on the national list, Hynum said.

Once on the national list, the EPA covers 90 percent of the cost of cleanup operations until a site is in “post-closure” status, when the state is again responsible for all costs associated with monitoring and maintaining the site. Funding for the National Priorities List was established through the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980.

Lori Simmons, chief of environmental epidemiology at the Arkansas Department of Health, said there is no data indicating the presence of disease or disease clusters - either cancerous or noncancerous - connected to any of the sites in Arkansas.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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