Every blog I have written during my time at the CHEJ has focused on or mentioned the West Lake Landfill. No wonder, considering how the majority of my work here has dealt with promoting awareness about the landfill. But the reason why I continue to write about it is because the inaction and inattentiveness shown by some public officials towards this issue angers me.
There is no excuse for delaying the clean-up of a toxic waste site that poses a threat to public health and potentially threatens the community’s water source. When a Tea Party Republican like Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer and Progressive Democrat like Lacy Clay can agree on the EPA’s mismanagement of West Lake, you know there’s a problem. No room for argument exists as to whether Superfund sites (those recognized by our government as hazardous and toxic) should be top priorities for our public officials. And yet Superfund sites languish across the country.
In addition to the West Lake Landfill, sites in San Jacinto, Texas and Birmingham, Alabama have gone unresolved. The San Jacinto Waste Pit received wastes from a nearby paper mill, depositing harmful dioxins “which are extremely toxic and can cause increased risk of cancer and other threats to human health such as liver damage and birth defects.” The waste pit is also directly near the San Jacinto River and puts the local environment and community drinking water at grave risk. And yet the EPA comes back with temporary cap plans rather than a plan towards a permanent solution. Similarly, the Birmingham community is dealing with the aftermath of the ABC Coke Plant’s pollution at the 35th Avenue Superfund Site. Containing contaminated soil and groundwater, the Birmingham Superfund site also remains an issue and shows the EPA’s preference for lip service over action on toxic waste sites.
Superfund issues have one clear answer: they must be a priority and any threat to families and the public must be immediately addressed. Every day that a site goes unaddressed is another day that a community is put at risk. It’s just common sense that communities should have access to safe, clean drinking water and not live near hazardous waste sites that have gone largely unaddressed by the government. Protecting communities from environmental disasters should be an issue we can all get behind.
By Sharon Franklin. Victoria St. Martin, reporter for Inside Climate News, recently reported on a poll concerning people of color and climate change. The results