Environmental Factor, October 2011, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Superfund signs Memorandum of Understanding with EPA
NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP)(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/srp/index.cfm) staff announced in September that a long-awaited Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been finalized between NIEHS and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This MOU formalizes an agreement between the SRP and the EPA Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation (OSRTI)(http://www.epa.gov/superfund/partners/osrti/), the office responsible for overseeing the cleanup of Superfund sites.
The MOU was confirmed with signatures from NIEHS/NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., and OSRTI Director James Woolford. “The SRP has been working with this office in the EPA for the past 17 years,” said Beth Anderson, program analyst for the SRP. “[Our association] has evolved over time, and we now enjoy a robust partnership. This MOU demonstrates our commitment to future collaboration.”
Technical transfer of SRP research to application at Superfund sites
According to the MOU, the goal of the agreement is to foster an environment that “promotes the utilization of the research outcomes and knowledge to better serve the nation's environment and human health.” The MOU will enhance collaboration and coordination between the two agency offices, by smoothing the path for technical transfer of research products from the SRP to OSRTI.
To accomplish these goals, OSRTI and SRP have several activities planned. Routine conference calls are being held to exchange information on emerging needs and recent accomplishments, as well as ways to mesh research strategies with Superfund needs. The two agencies are also developing a cross-agency research topic matrix that will compile and summarize recently completed research that can be applied to hazardous waste cleanup.
The ongoing collaboration between SRP and OSRTI also addresses the important issue of responsibly using funding dollars. “It's important for us to work together,” said Anderson. “Our grantees research solutions to real, complex problems. Their results should be applied in the field.” SRP and OSRTI intend to match completed research to Superfund sites with relevant problems that may benefit from the solutions offered by research.
OSRTI is located within the EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. In addition to site cleanups, it is responsible for promoting new technology and approaches to managing sites and providing technical assistance, expertise, and support in responding to environmental emergencies and terrorist events.
(Rebecca Wilson is an environmental health information specialist with MDB, Inc., a contractor for the NIEHS Superfund Research Program and Worker Education and Training Program.)