Backyard Talk

PFAS & Superfund NOT a Compatible Marriage 

The federal house of representatives passed a bill that would designate certain types of PFAS “hazardous” under Superfund. (PFAS are  per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, man-made chemicals.) Many of our friends on capital hill sponsored this bill and voted in favor.
Trump has been very clear that he has no intentions of signing the bill if it was ever to get through the Senate and land on his desk.  But what is the bill really about?  It’s about what to do about this chemical that is showing up all across the country in drinking water. It is also a backdoor way to set a safe  level or standard for PFAS in drinking water and for the Superfund program to cleanup and hold accountable those who are responsible for the pollution.
As this idea was being described to me by congressional staff this past summer, I just scratched my head. The Superfund program HAS NO MONEY. In fact, there are 34 unfunded Superfund sites that are shovel ready that can’t afford a shovel.  This is the largest number of unfunded shovel ready sites, meaning everything is ready to begin cleanup, in decades if not longer.
The recent bill authorizes $800 million to fund infrastructure upgrades that reduce PFAS exposure and to local entities for cleanups. Again, I just scratch my head. Does Congress really think that amount of money is enough to clean up all the PFSA contaminated lands, water and dumpsites?  There are thousands of places where towns, cities and states are concerned about this chemical impacting people’s drinking water.
How exactly does this bill work with the 1,3000 plus Superfund sites, some that have waited for decades to get testing or clean up plans. Trump gave Superfund in his EPA budget $2,878 million for the entire program why does congress think he would be willing to give PFAS $800 million?
Is this legislation about dumping a serious public health problem into a deep hole (Superfund) so no one can be held responsible? The Superfund program should be used to cleanup the country’s most dangerous sites, not serve as a dumping ground for serious complicated problems Congress can’t or doesn’t want to deal with.
By Lois Marie Gibbs, Founder of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice


East Liverpool, Ohio demanding answers to poisonous incinerator

In East Liverpool, Ohio, the organization Save Our County Inc. has been fighting the Heritage Thermal Services incinerator for decades. Several months ago, the group met with the city’s Safety and Rules Committee to draft a list of questions to send to the EPA regarding their concerns for the incinerator. The community received a response from the EPA in December and are not satisfied with the answers. More questions were submitted to the EPA for further detail and the committee is awaiting advice on how to proceed. Read More.