Eleven New Sites Proposed for Superfund

The U.S. EPA yesterday proposed adding 11 new sites to its Superfund toxic-site cleanup program, but critics say the number is too small and the program woefully underfunded. The new sites represent the biggest, dirtiest, most complex cleanups in the country, the “real turkeys that the states don’t want to touch,” said EPA’s Randolph Dietz. Since the program began in 1980, Superfund has completed cleanups of close to 900 sites; 1,240 remain unfinished. Critics point out that funding for the program has declined steadily — and now that the industry-tax-supported trust fund has run out (Congress has refused to renew the taxes since 1995), cleanups are paid for entirely from general tax revenues, sticking taxpayers with the bill. They also complain that the number of contaminated sites added to the cleanup list has dropped sharply under the Bush administration, disguising the extent of the problem.