Superfund News

Georgia School Moved from Superfund Site

Community members were concerned over new plans to build a new elementary school on the existing site that has been contaminated for over 40 years. The Glynn Country board unanimously voted to move the school three-quarters of a mile from the existing school.
Read More

Backyard Talk Homepage Water News

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substamnces (PFAS) Summit

June 27, 2018
More than 200 people participated in the opening session of the first of several regional summits on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PSAS) and related chemicals that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to sponsor over the coming year.  The summit held in Exeter, New Hampshire included both a public forum Monday, June 25 and a series of workshops the following day which involved environmental officials from the state, the federal government, municipal officials and interested parties. This regional summit was a follow-up to the EPA’s National Summit held in Washington, DC in May as it considers new standards and regulations to deal with the threats posed by this group of chemicals and the development of effective environmental cleanup methods.  For more information on these chemicals and the community engagement process.
David Bond, from Bennington College, gave one of several presentations before the gathering. Bond said different regulations in every state and different levels of enforcement have made it more difficult to address the complex challenges posed by PFAS. Bond contrasted Vermont’s quick action when contamination was found in Bennington County with the slower, less vigorous response from New York state to PFAS contamination in the Hoosick Falls, New York, area.
However, Bond did praise a recent lawsuit filed by New York in an attempt to hold companies that released the chemicals into the atmosphere responsible for the costs of dealing with the contamination.  He also said “I think of Vermont as a model for how to respond,” when Former Gov. Peter Shumlin and other officials, swooped in immediately after the tainted wells were discovered and held informational sessions.  The governor ensured that water was delivered to residents, and the state pressured Saint Gobain to extend a water line to affected residents, as well as, having the Vermont Department of Health hold screening clinics.
Bond explained that exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and similar chemicals, primarily through drinking water, has been associated with high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and pregnancy-induced hypertension.  These highly soluble chemicals can be spread through spills, dump sites or through factory stack emissions, working their way into groundwater or reservoir water sources, where it is believed they will not dissipate for many years, if ever.
Bond recommended a uniform, national approach guided from the federal level, including legal action if necessary by the Department of Justice against polluters.
Bond also stated that the EPA released an 850-plus-page draft report on June 21  that indicated the standards for the level of PFOA in drinking water should be lowered significantly.  The EPA has set a safe drinking water standard at 70 parts per trillion, while Vermont set its standard at 20 parts per trillion.  Bond stated, that both might need to be lowered, according to the draft report.  The Comment Period for the draft report, prepared by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) must be submitted by July 21.

Homepage Superfund News

$100 Million Superfund Settlement in Rhode Island

The EPA, U.S. Department of Justice, and the state DEP reached a $100 settlement from Emhart Industires Inc. and Black & Decker Inc. will clean up the dioxin-contaminated soil at the Superfund site in Northern Providence and Johnson. The site covers nine acres on the Woonaskqutucket River.
Read more here

Homepage Media Releases News Archive Superfund News

West Virginia Activists Protest Governor

Minden, West Virginia has been contaminated by toxic and cancerous PCBs for decades after Shaffer Equipment Company buried electrical waste in the town. The activists are protesting a sewer project in the town that has exposed residents to PCBs. West Virginia Governor, Jim Justice, originally supported the communities efforts to put their town on the EPA’s Superfund Priority list and halt the sewer project, but the Governor has since reversed the order.
Read more. 

Water News

Ohio EPA program funds septic replacement

Ohio EPA estimates that over 30 percent of septic systems are not functioning properly, causing potential harm to public health. The State’s EPA’s Water Pollution Control Loan Fund began in 2016 and has since provided over $12.5 million to residents and fixed 1,200 septic systems. Through the loan program, residents could receive 50-100% of the funds needed to repair or replace their systems.
Read More.

Superfund News

Superfund News

This is where updates on the Superfund campaign and related stories will be published.

Backyard Talk

Superfund 101

The threats that toxic waste sites pose to human and environmental health are serious and urgent, and research done on Superfund site cleanup has shown that proper cleanup can mitigate the risk of serious health issues and help revitalize ailing local economies.
However, the program went bankrupt after the Polluter Pays Fees expired in 1995. With limited funds the program has limped along for decades. Today we have a chance to pass legislation that would reinstate the polluters pays fees and protect public health and the environment through a robust clean-up plan.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), more commonly known as Superfund, was passed in 1980 in response to the Love Canal disaster in New York and the Valley of the Drums in Kentucky, with the ultimate purpose of addressing the serious threat to public health that toxic waste sites pose via cleanup of the sites; the entity responsible for seeing out this purpose is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are three main ways in which cleanup can occur: (1) the party responsible for pollution is identified and then tasked with cleaning up the site, (2) the EPA cleans up the site using money from the established trust fund and then recovers the cost incurred from cleanup from the responsible party, and (3) in orphan sites – sites where the responsible party no longer exists or has been found to no longer be liable – the EPA pays for the cost using money from the established trust fund.
When CERCLA was initially enacted, this aforementioned trust fund was created using money collected from Polluter Pays Taxes – taxes that were imposed on oil and chemical companies. In 1995, Congress allowed these taxes to expire. As a result of this expiration, this trust fund (that had at one point generated almost $2 million per year between 1993 and 1995) was completely deplete of funds by 2003. Without Polluter Pays Taxes, the Superfund program has fallen into a financial shortage and become less effective at cleaning up sites. Additionally, the program has become reliant on taxpayer dollars for funding, with the GAO reporting that 80% of Superfund costs were funded by general revenue between 1999 and 2013.
This same GAO report also outlines the ways in which the Superfund program has suffered since the fund ran out of Polluter Pays Tax money. Between 1999 and 2003, there has been a 37% decline in number of remedial action completions, an 84% decline in number of construction completions, and a significant increase in time taken to complete each project (from 2.6 years to 4 years). Based on these findings, not only are taxpayers now paying for the Superfund program, but they are paying for a less efficient Superfund program.
This program is essential to cleaning up contaminated land and mitigating exposure to toxicants, and while Scott Pruitt’s EPA has made clear that they would like to give more focus to Superfund, it’s difficult to give the Superfund program the true attention it needs without proper financial backing. Many legislators have attempted to introduce bills that would reinstate Polluter Pays Taxes, however these attempts have been so far unsuccessful. The most recent attempt made by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), entitled the Superfund Polluter Pays Restoration Act of 2017, would reinstate and raise the Hazardous Substance Superfund financing rate; no actions have been taken on this bill since its introduction.
It is urgent that everyone calls their legislators and ask them to support the Superfund program. Please take a moment today to contact your representatives and ask them to sign onto Senator Booker’s Superfund Polluter Pays Restoration Act of 2017 (S. 2198).

Backyard Talk

Get Lead out of Water Now!

water water everywhere

It is the law that we send our children to school, if we don’t we can be arrested, but there is no law that protects our children from drinking water contaminated with lead while at school. Dating back early 1970’s and the first major lead-based paint legislation that addressed lead-based paint in federal housing not a lot of attention has been paid to our children’s schools. Even though extensive and compelling evidence now indicates that lead-associated cognitive deficits and behavioral problems can occur at blood lead concentrations below 5 μg/dL (50 ppb). In 2012, the US National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health reported that, after other risk factors are accounted for, blood lead concentrations

We as parents would never knowingly allow our children to drink water contaminated with lead or any other contaminants, so why should we accept that some of our schools are indeed allowing this to happen? We understand that it will cost billions to bring our antique infrastructure to a point where we feel comfortable allowing our children to drink from a drinking fountain or eat food that has been made using contaminated water while at school. There can be nothing more important that our children and their intellectual future. Have we exposed children to the side effects of medication used for behavior problems but allow lead contamination in their drinking water?
There is no safe level of lead in our children’s water; our children deserve better than what our government has done so far on this issue. While the fight continues between our legislators, our nation’s children continue to go to schools with high lead levels in their drinking water. Call your legislators and tell them to correct this problem NOW!

Backyard Talk

Something in the Water?

Running faucet
Water is the most fundamental unit of life, necessary for the survival of every organism on earth. Despite the importance of this essential molecule, water resources across the United States are not treated with the appropriate level of care and precaution to protect public health.
As one of the most wealthy and powerful countries in the world, with access to the most advanced technology in existence, it is reasonable to assume that the US would be able to provide all its citizens with safe, healthy drinking water. Events like the tragic water crisis in Flint, Michigan should be just an isolated outlier, an ultra-rare disaster in a system that otherwise takes every action possible to minimize exposure to toxic contaminants. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and throughout the country lead-contaminated drinking water is afflicting communities both large and small.
Major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, that required lead plumbing be used up until it was federally banned in 1986, still struggle with these issues, with a recent Chicago Tribune article citing over a hundred homes with lead levels exceeding the EPA’s 15 ppb action level. The issue is often even more pressing for smaller communities that may lack the funding to comprehensively address these water quality issues.
In a 2018 article from the New York Times, Maura Allaire, a University of California, Irvine assistant professor argues that smaller communities often “fly under the radar”, suffering from atrophied infrastructure and challenged to meet water quality and treatment standards. That same article cites research showing that in the year of 2015 only, up to 21,000,000 US citizens were at risk of exposure to dangerous lead levels.
Lead ingestion endangers most systems of the human body and can lead to kidney issues, reproductive problems, brain damage, and ultimately death. No amount of lead exposure is safe for humans, and even below the action level of 15 ppb set by the EPA, human health issues can occur, especially for pregnant women and children under the age of 6. At such critical stages of physical and mental development lead is even more hazardous, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends water below 1 ppb lead for young children.
Given the severity and pervasiveness of the issue, it would seem common-sense to protect America’s kids from lead poisoning. Only 7 states, however, require that schools even test for lead in their drinking water (California, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Maryland, Illinois and Virginia). While CHEJ is currently working to address this obvious political failure, there’s something that everyone can do. H.R. 5833, or the Get the Lead Out of Schools Act of 2017 is currently awaiting a decision in the House of Representatives. If you want to protect people from exposure to hazardous chemicals such as lead, contact your local representative and demand that they focus on this issue, and do their part to guarantee the safety of American children.
Take action and contact your representative to act on the Get the Lead of Schools Act.

Media Releases

Polite People Get Poisoned

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_youtube id=”” width=”600″ height=”350″ autoplay=”no” api_params=”” class=””][fusion_content_boxes settings_lvl=”child” layout=”icon-with-title” columns=”1″ icon_align=”left” title_size=”” title_color=”” body_color=”” backgroundcolor=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_radius=”” iconcolor=”” circlecolor=”” circlebordercolor=”” circlebordersize=”” outercirclebordercolor=”” outercirclebordersize=”” icon_size=”” icon_hover_type=”” hover_accent_color=”” link_type=”” link_area=”” linktarget=”” animation_delay=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.1″ margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_content_box title=”” icon=”” backgroundcolor=”” iconcolor=”” circlecolor=”” circlebordercolor=”” circlebordersize=”” outercirclebordercolor=”” outercirclebordersize=”” iconrotate=”” iconspin=”no” image=”” image_width=”35″ image_height=”35″ link=”” linktext=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=””] Lois Gibbs delivers the keynote address at Building a Future Full of Hope and Promise: Improving Air Quality in Southwestern Pennsylvania on April 13, 2018.[/fusion_content_box][/fusion_content_boxes][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]