50 Most Hazardous Waste Sites in US Get Stimulus Funds for Cleanup

50 hazardous waste epa cleanup photo

Photo via USGS

The EPA announced that 50 of the most polluted, most hazardous waste sites in the country will be cleaned up, thanks to $582 million in stimulus funds. Each of the sites is heavily contaminated with mining waste, out-of-control landfills, and chemical spillage—just to name a few. As you might recall, Superfund cleanup was one of the green projects included the stimulus--here's how it's going to help.Waste Site Cleanup
Four of the waste sites, or Superfund sites, are going to get dangerously contaminated soil removed from hundreds of residential lawns, according to the AP.

The stimulus funds are also going to get 180 families access to clean drinking water—after decades of going without. From the AP:

Up to $25 million will connect 180 houses in southeastern North Dakota to public drinking water. Their wells were tainted with arsenic from bait applied to control grasshoppers in the '30s and '40s. The people who live there have been supplied with bottled water since their wells were contaminated.

Yet another project involves the dredging up of contaminated mud from the harbor in Bedford, Massachusetts—a project that was estimated to take 38 years without renewed funding.
In many of the sites, cleanup efforts had already been underway but were halted last year due to a lack of funding. Others still were planning on running out of funding this year, before the stimulus swooped in to clean up the day.

Stumbling Superfund
All this stimulus money going to help Superfund waste sites helps draw attention to another issue: the program is hopelessly underfunded. The tax on hazardous chemicals intended to keep it afloat was cut off by Congress in 1995. Since then, the program's budget has shriveled, and hundreds of hazardous waste sites have been left a mess.

Obama plans to reinstate the tax in 2011, which would generate around $1 billion annually for the program. Perhaps then hazardous waste sites won't have to languish for decades—posing health threats to those who live nearby in the process.

More on Hazardous Waste Sites
EPA Reforms Rule on Hazardous Waste , Boosts Recycling
EPA Gets Coal Ash Hazardous Waste Regulation Do Over in Obama Administration

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