Superfund sites need addressed

Published 10:23 am Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Bush administration was often criticized for its environmental policies, with President Barack Obama taking the administration to task on the campaign trail.

But it appears that Obama’s administration plans to do even less when it comes to cleaning up some of the nation’s most contaminated former industrial areas, referred to as Superfund sites.

According to Associated Press reports, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under the Obama administration, will finish removal of pollutants at 42 sites in the next two years, the lowest in any two-year period since 1991.

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Under the much-maligned Bush administration, the EPA finished rehabilitation at an average of 38 sites per year.

Of the 527 contaminated properties still needing cleanup on the Superfund list, 40 have progressed to the point where all that’s left is removing the last piles of contaminated soil, building a treatment plant to strip the groundwater of toxic pollutants, or capping a landfill so contamination does not enter the drinking water or air in surrounding neighborhoods, according to the AP.

Admittedly, Obama does face several challenges including dwindling funds, increasingly complex waste sites that are costly to cleanup and the fact that several of the remaining sites aren’t associated with a company that can foot the bill.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a Washington, D.C. problem that doesn’t affect us here at home.

It isn’t.

Both The Point industrial park and the Ironton Industrial Park are Superfund sites. And although the bulk of cleanup funds came from the former tenants, this status has still helped pave the way for redevelopment.

Obama needs to look long and hard at this program and realize that part of protecting the environment is cleaning up the mess that has already been made.