Have you ever heard of the town of Hinkley from the film Erin Brockovich? That’s a toxic waste site. Currently, there are 1,323 toxic waste sites on the EPA’s National Priorities List, or the list of the worst of the worst toxic waste sites in The United States. Recently, the EPA released the information that, as of this year, they are aware of over 30,000 toxic spills which they estimate will cost 250 billion dollars to clean up over the next 30 years. Of the current 1,323 hot spots on the EPA’s list, only 250 of them have been cleaned up. That’s a lot of toxic waste!
We thought it would be a great idea to share eight things about the Superfund project that we here at SuperfundResearch.org think everyone needs to know.
1. Toxic waste is a non-political issue.
Even though there are a whole lot of politics that come into play when we, as a country, talk about the environment, toxic waste is really a non-political issue. The fact of the matter is that whether rich, poor, Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian, toxic waste, whether you believe in it or not, can make you sick. It’s important, no matter who you are, or what you believe, for you to be aware of the location of your nearest Superfund site, in order to allow you to have all the right information to keep you and your loves one’s safe!
2. What kinds of chemicals are found at Superfund sites?
Unless you are a chemist with an advanced degree, or a brilliant arm-chair scientist, it’s easy to read a list of chemicals but difficult to know if they are bad for you or not. In the case of Superfund sites, they’re all bad. The kinds of chemicals found at toxic waste sites are vast, but there are a few repeat offenders that are evenly spread all over the country; TCE — a now banned industrial agent, Chromium-6 — The evil six-sided monster from Hinkley, Lead — Lead and Lupus go hand in hand, Mercury — There is a reason your thermometer is not refillable, Perchlorate – A component of rocket fuel, Uranium – Naturally occurring, or left overs from The Manhattan Project, Etc. – Not a chemical but the list goes on and on and on!
3. Which toxic waste is the worst?
They’re all bad. Too much exposure to any one of these chemicals can potentially cause a lifetime of illness and suffering. Our opinion, here are SuperfundResearch.org, is that TCE is the chemical we should most be concerned about, because it gives off vapor, which rises up through the soil, and gathers inside your home or place of employment. TCE in the groundwater supply, called a plume, is like a giant cloud, but in water. If your house is on top of a plume you could be experiencing vapor intrusion without even knowing it! If you live near a TCE plume, have your indoor air tested, and have a filtration system installed in the foundation of your house to help make sure you and your loved ones are breathing clean air!
4. Can toxic waste effect me genetically?
Yes. The Superfund Research program at UC Berkeley released a study that stated that people who have been exposed to Superfund chemicals have offspring who are 25% more likely to experience genetically predisposed illnesses like Leukemia and Autism. This means that if you are not careful your children can become victims of exposure without ever being exposed themselves. Pregnant women, children, people with disabilities, are the most at risk for experiencing the effects of exposure. This is why you need to make sure you are aware of the circumstances for your local Superfund site!
4. Not everyone who lives near a Superfund site is directly effected.
Imagine the feeling of learning that your house is near a Superfund toxic waste site. For anyone, this is bad news, for many reasons. At first we wonder, “Am I safe from this?” Then, we think, “What is this going to do to my property values?” Eventually, we think, “Is this why my sister has cancer?” The questions you really need to be asking yourself are, “Where do we get our water from?” and “Is my house geographically located over top of the plume of toxic waste?”
If you get your water from a well, and you live on top of a plume of Chromium-6, you could potentially be drinking, and bathing, in toxic waste, and that’s not good! However, if you are drinking city water, and live on the top of a plume, you are probably safe, unless your local site is a TCE site. Then, you are not safe because of the vapor! Don’t assume that just because you live near a Superfund site that you are directly effected. Take the time to learn the facts before you freak out!
5. Who you gonna call?
Unfortunately, The Ghostbusters fight lots of things that are invisible but they don’t fight toxic waste. Erin Brockovich is a powerful advocate and she loves hearing from and helping people from all walks of life. Send her a message at Erin@brockovich.com and tell her thank you for being the only person in The US with the guts to stand up for us all. But, remember, she is very busy, and cannot help everyone so also reach out to your local city officials, members of the media, or start your own local advocacy group. We’ve heard, from people all over the country who have started their own causes, how their efforts bring communities together, reconnect old friends, and create new friends for life!
6. Wait, who is paying for all of this?
You are! While the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) allows for the The US EPA to collect damages from polluters for clean up efforts, the money collected is often not even close to the amount spent on Superfund remediations. The rest of the money, that is not recovered from a polluter, comes out of your federal taxes from your paycheck, but as you might have realized, most of you didn’t even know about any of this. This means that the Superfund program, if we as US citizens are not aware of why we are being taxed and where it’s going, could be considered a form of taxation without representation, and that’s against The Constitution! Look up the name of your congressman, and state Senator, call them, write letters, send them messages on Facebook. Demand that you be given a say into how your money is spent. Tell them, “This is America. We have rights and it’s your job to defend them!”
7. Can we trust the EPA to tell us the truth about the status of our local Superfund site?
It’s the government. What’s to not trust about them except everything they say and do? It’s a simple concept. The EPA is not a person. It’s an organization made up of people, some of which do not have your best interests at heart, no matter what EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says about climate change, of which we do happen to support her efforts. The Environmental Protection Agency has an interesting way of reporting on they ways they clean up sites. In some cases, instead of cleaning them up, they don’t do anything, and call it Monitored Natural Attenuation, which is government speak for “We’re doing nothing but testing and letting the laws of physics do the rest.” Be sure that you are not fooled by their buzzwords, and science talk. Consider contacting the environmental department of your local college or university and ask them to do independent testing to see if you and your family are being told the truth!
8. How can you locate your locate your local Superfund site?
That’s easy! Simply, use your choice of search engine to enter in the name of your city, and the word “Superfund” added to your search string. Or, you can use National Geographic’s Superfund site locator to find how close the nearest Superfund site is to your house. If you find that you are living near a toxic waste site, start up a dialog with your neighbors and ask them to get involved!
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