BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to add Baton Rouge’s Capitol Lakes to the National Priorities List. The most contaminated places in the U.S. are on the list. Pollution is severe enough to harm the environment or human health.

The EPA hopes adding the site will speed up site cleanup, according to a news release issued Thursday.

The Capitol Lakes are near I-110 and Capitol Lake Drive. They include North Lake, South Lake and East Lake. Sixty acres next to the Capitol Building and the Governor’s Mansion are also part of the site.

“When we add a site to the National Priorities List, EPA is committing to permanently addressing contamination on-site and ensuring surrounding communities receive the protection and support they deserve,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.

EPA Regional Administrator Dr. Earthea Nance said, “By adding the Capitol Lakes site to the NPL, we are enforcing environmental justice and taking action to remove a threat that impacts the environment and public health.”

Hazards detected in Capitol Lakes

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has found several problems in the lakes.

In 1972, sediment testing found Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). These chemicals can cause liver damage or skin conditions. Fish tissue samples also came back positive for PCBs.

An April 2022 study revealed that fish from the lakes had dangerous levels of PCB. A fishing advisory was set up to caution residents. Every year, LDEQ collects and tests fish samples from the lakes. The warning is still in place as of March 2023.

The Superfund Program

The lakes are part of the Superfund Remedial Program. The federal initiative cleans up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites in the U.S.

“Thousands of contaminated sites, from landfills, to processing plants, to manufacturing facilities, exist nationally due to hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open, or otherwise improperly managed,” the EPA wrote in the release.

The federal government invested $3.5 billion into the program to fast-track cleanup. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law made the investment possible.

The EPA said the Superfund has improved many hazardous sites across the nation. It also says area residents have improved health thanks to the cleanup efforts.

Visit the EPA’s Superfund webpage for more information about Superfund and the NPL.