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Superfund Sites

West Chicago Is Cleaning Up The Last Of Its Nuclear Contamination

Sandra Arzola was relaxing in her West Chicago home one weekend in 1995, when she heard a knock at the door. Recently married, she shared the gray duplex with her husband, mom and sister, and family members were constantly coming and going. But when Sandra answered the door that day, what she learned would change how she looked at her home and suburban community forever. At the door was a woman representing Envirocon, an environmental cleanup company. There was thorium on the family’s property, the woman said, and if it was OK with them, workers were coming to remove it. It was the first time Sandra had heard of thorium. “It took me by left field,” she said. “But [the representative] made it sound like everything was going to be fine.”

Infrastructure Law Won’t Fund Cleanup Of Uranium Mines On Indigenous Lands

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will dole out $3.5 billion to clean up the most hazardous contaminated sites in the country, but so far, no Arizona sites are set to receive funding. And some of the most polluted locations in the state, the hundreds of abandoned uranium mines on Indigenous lands, are likely ineligible for the money. The funding comes from the bipartisan infrastructure law, which passed last November and is considered the Biden administration’s top legislative achievement.  The first round of money will allocate $1 billion to clear the backlog of so-called orphaned sites on the National Priorities List. That list, part of the Superfund program, includes what the U.S. government considers the most contaminated sites in the country. The sites are nicknamed orphans because they haven't received any money for cleanup yet.  

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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