Analies Dyjak, M.A. | Policy Nerd
Updated November 19, 2020
EPA added 6 sites to the National Priorities List under the Superfund program during the spring of 2019. Cyanide, Lead, Tetrachloroethene (PCE), Trichloroethylene (TCE), 1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE), vinyl chloride, and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are just some of the toxic chemicals found at the newly designated sites. Our team is working around the clock to analyze each situation and put together articles and videos explaining how each site can impact your drinking water. Make sure to follow along and subscribe to our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as we discuss where each site is located and the contaminants that are present.
What is a Superfund Site?
In 1980, the Carter administration decided to address years of environmental degradation by creating the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund. Superfund establishes requirements concerning closed and abandoned hazardous waste sites, holds responsible parties liable for releases of hazardous waste, and establishes a fund to pay for remediation when a responsible party cannot be identified. Superfund is not necessarily a “cradle to grave” statute. It was established to clean up years of hazardous waste before disposal practices were being regulated, which is why many responsible parties cannot be identified.
Why Is Superfund Important?
Hazardous waste and designated Superfund sites almost always end up affecting drinking water sources. Over periods of time, toxic sludge and vapor plumes at these abandoned hazardous waste sites seep into groundwater. The concern to humans is that the same contaminated groundwater is commonly used as a drinking source for a community. In fact, all 6 of the recently designated Superfund sites involve some sort of groundwater contamination. Many of the toxic chemicals found at Superfund sites are either known carcinogens or extremely toxic.
Federal Superfund Site Delegation Process
Prior to EPA’s delegation of a Superfund site, research, community involvement, and site inspections at the state and federal level must be conducted. This process can take years which is why it’s important to stay current with public notices within your community. Once the site meets certain standards, it’s added to the National Priorities List and officially becomes a designated Superfund site. CERCLA has the jurisdiction to delegate two types of response actions; short term removals and long term remedial response actions. For the purpose of this article, we will only be referring to long term remedial response actions. Long term actions permanently reduce the danger associated with releases of hazardous substances. These actions are dubbed serious, but not immediately life threatening. Short term and long term actions are both registered on EPA’s National Priorities List. This list is significant because it’s EPA’s way of addressing that there’s a serious problem that requires some sort of federal involvement. Superfund cleanup efforts are reviewed once every 5 years to see if remedial goals have been met. A site is removed from the National Priorities List once all response and remediation action has occurred. Typically, total remediation of a federal Superfund site can take decades because of the scope of groundwater and soil contamination.
Sources of Contaminants
As previously stated, the EPA detected several hazardous chemicals at each of the federal Superfund sites. The most common being Tetrachloroethene (PCE), which is commonly used by dry cleaning facilities. EPA also detected Trichloroethylene (TCE) which is an industrial solvent, typically used as a metal degreaser as well as a refrigerant in older refrigerators. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) which were historically used in electrical manufacturing. Cyanide, lead, chromium 6, and mercury, were among some of the other toxic contaminants that EPA detected.
Make sure to follow along this week to learn more about each of the Superfund sites. We’ll be walking through each site, the contaminants that were detected and their toxicity. As always, we encourage you to take advantage of Hydroviv's "Help No Matter What" technical support policy, where we answer questions related to drinking water and water filtration, even if you have no desire to purchase our products. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.orgOther Articles We Think You might Enjoy:
An Overview of Superfund
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