Superfund: New Leadership, Old Problems

by Teresa Austin, Asst. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 3, Pg. 46-49

Document Type: Feature article


The often contentious Superfund program faces a Democratic administration—the first one since its inception—and reauthorization by a new congress, armed with a mandate to cut government waste and the deficit. Will the program survive intact? Should it? The waning days of the Bush administration prompted a flurry of activity at EPA. Officials handed down belated edicts on a number of controversial issues—wetlands, endangered species, municipal solid waste incineration—and a decision not to indemnify Superfund contractors/engineers for their cleanup work, on future or current contracts. Under such a policy would contractors continue to work on Superfund projects? Would anyone dare to use innovative technology? Carolyn Keily, attorney for the Hazardous Waste Action Coalition, a group of more than 100 engineering and science firms involved in hazardous waste cleanups, predicts, If these guidelines stay in force, I'm afraid Superfund will come to a screeching halt. Many people claim it would be hard to tell the difference. Since Superfund's inception in 1980, 149 sites have been cleaned and removed from the National Priorities List (NPL), those hazardous waste sites that pose the greatest long term danger to public health and the environment. But the list continues to grow. Recently, EPA added 33 new sites (including the Pearl Harbor naval complex) bringing the total NPL to 1,250 sites.

Subject Headings: Waste sites | Hazardous wastes | Leadership | Environmental Protection Agency | Municipal wastes | Contractors and subcontractors | Occupational safety | Endangered species

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