What's Wrong With Superfund

by Dan Morse, Assistant Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1989, Vol. 59, Issue 4, Pg. 40-43

Document Type: Feature article


In nine years of the federal government's Superfund program, $4 billion has been spent and only 38 of the 1,175 sites on the national priority list have been cleaned. There remains an additional 29,000 low priority sites, which if ever cleaned will probably be done by state programs. Nine years ago, however, the above scenario was Congress's five year vision as it handed DPA the Comprehensive Environmental Response and Liability Act (Superfund) of 1980. Congress was responding to a public that said: Find every hazardous waste site, get rid of every speck of contamination, bill the polluters, and don't make any mistakes. Unfortunately, the public, Congress and EPA all underestimated the number of hazardous waste sites, the cost and difficulty of cleanups, and the cost and difficulty of bringing responsible parties into the courtroom. With the Superfund now two years away from its next Congressional evaluation—the 1991 reauthorization process when Congress could decide to overhaul the entire program—a host of questions are rising from the waste.

Subject Headings: Waste sites | Occupational safety | Waste treatment | Environmental issues | Hazardous wastes | Liability | Pollution | Environmental Protection Agency

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