Sites for Sore Eyes
High-priority toxic waste clean-ups at seven sites in the U.S. will be left incomplete this year due to Superfund shortages, according to a report by the U.S. EPA’s inspector general. The sites include two former wood-treatment facilities in Texas that are leaching chemicals into nearby water supplies, an abandoned copper mine in Vermont polluting a river, and a former Indiana steel plant containing volatile chemical compounds, PCBs, and lead. Officials at the EPA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., say the agency has spent $48 million to address the high-risk aspects of the sites and claim the remaining cleanup can wait. But regional EPA officials who were denied $92 million to complete the cleanups say the sites continue to pose serious risks, and the inspector general’s report concurs. This year, the U.S. EPA completed work on 42 toxic waste sites, as compared to 47 last year and an average of 86 sites per year throughout the mid- to late 1990s.