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Silicon Valley Lawmaker Launches Inquiry into Superfund Cleanup

A US congresswoman from California has launched an inquiry into toxic damage caused by the federal government’s Superfund program.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) asked for details about the EPA’s handling of the waste resulting from treating and shipping toxic waste cross-country. Eshoo also inquired if the EPA has explored alternative methods of cleaning up the dangerous waste.

While acknowledging the “undoubted success” of the Superfund law in a letter to EPA boss Gina McCarthy, Eshoo raised concerns about the EPA “failing to properly monitor and regulate emissions” resulting from toxic waste remediation at Superfund sites.

Superfund Sites: More Harm Than Good?

Eshoo’s inquiry follows closely on the heels of an investigative report published by the Center for Investigative Reporting and Britain’s Guardian that revealed up to one in three Superfund sites may be causing more environmental harm than good.

The issue hits close to home for Eshoo, whose congressional district contains 11 Superfund sites.

The report details pollution created during the course of the cleanup of a Superfund site in Mountain View, just north of San Jose.

Soil and Water Contamination

EPA Superfund manager Alana Lee has acknowledged that toxic waste has been created at the site, especially from solvents used to clean microchips.

Lee told CBS that harmful solvents “leaked into the ground” during spills, unleashing further contamination that “unfortunately… then contaminated both the soil and the groundwater beneath it.”

Eshoo insisted she supports Superfund and believes the law is essential to the successful cleanup of hazardous waste sites across the country. But she raised serious concerns about the emission of dioxin, a known carcinogen.

Superfund was passed in 1980 in response to widespread and increasing toxic contamination of American soil and water. As of 2010, there were 1,280 sites listed on the Superfund National Priority List.

Sources:

“California Lawmaker Opens Inquiry Into EPA Toxic Waste Cleanup Program” Matt Drange & Susanne Rust, Center for Investigative Reporting, 4/2/14 (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/02/california-lawmaker-opens-inquiry-epa-toxic-waste-cleanup-program)

“Toxic Trail” Guardian, 3/17/14 (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2014/mar/-sp-toxic-waste-silicon-valley-trail)

“Congresswoman Opens Inquiry Into EPA Toxic Cleanup in Silicon Valley” CBS Bay Area, 4/2/14 (http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/04/02/bay-area-congresswoman-opens-inquiry-into-toxic-cleanup-in-silicon-valley/)

 

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