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OLEM Programs Address Contamination at Superfund, Brownfields and RCRA Sites Near 60 Percent of the U.S. Population

OLEM's Superfund, RCRA Corrective Action, and Brownfields sites exist in thousands of communities across the United States ranging from remote to large urban settings. Many of them are located in economically distressed communities.

To help describe who benefits from our cleanup work, EPA collected data on the population living within three and one mile(s) of these sites. Using census data, EPA found that approximately 188 million people live within three miles of a Superfund remedial site, RCRA Corrective Action, or Brownfields site, roughly 60 percent of the U.S. population, including 62 percent of all children in the U.S. under the age of five.

While there is no single way to characterize communities located near our sites, this population is more minority, low income, linguistically isolated, and less likely to have a high school education than the U.S. population as a whole. As a result, these communities may have fewer resources with which to address concerns about their health and environment.

OLEM also works with states, territories, tribes and industry to protect the environment and human health from potential releases at Underground Storage Tank (UST) facilities. The greatest potential threat from a leaking UST is contamination of groundwater, the source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans. Approximately 91 percent of the US population lives within 3 miles of an active UST facility, and 73 percent of the US population lives within 3 miles of an open LUST site.

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  • Population Surrounding OLEM Sites (PDF)(1 pg, 284 K, 2020)
    Population data is from the 2015-2018 American Community Survey. Superfund, RCRA CA and Brownfields are as of FY 2019. Active UST and Open LUST are as of late-2018 to mid-2019 depending on state data.