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Superfund Sites

Many Superfund Sites Are Dangerously Threatened By Climate Change

Barrett, Texas - Fred Barrett thought he'd wait out Hurricane Harvey at his home in this town outside Houston, founded by his great-grandfather in 1889. He prepared for heavy rain, wind and flooding. But when the murky brown San Jacinto River jumped its banks, flooding Barrett's neighbors and an ominous cluster of four hazardous waste Superfund sites nearby, Barrett worried the catastrophic 2017 storm could fill his community with deadly toxins.  The most notorious of the sites, the San Jacinto Waste Pits, was smashed by 16 feet of water that undermined a concrete cap covering the site's toxic contents, washing dioxin downriver.

Two Thousand Toxic Superfund Sites At Risk From Coastal Flooding

About 2,000 official and potential Superfund sites—sites contaminated by extremely hazardous chemicals—are located within 25 miles of the East or Gulf Coast. As sea levels rise, many of these toxic sites are at risk of flooding. Millions of people live near these sites, and flooding could bring them into contact with hazardous chemicals. The areas near Superfund sites are disproportionately populated by communities of color and low-income communities. Yet the Trump administration in 2017 rescinded an executive order requiring consideration of flooding at these sites and canceled research into the problem. If leaders continue to sideline science when making decisions about climate change and about Superfund sites, they will put the health of millions of the country’s most vulnerable people at risk.
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