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How the Superfund Affects You

Updated on February 13, 2017
Stacie L profile image

Stacie L has been an educator for many years and likes to share her experiences and advice.

Love Canal warning sign
Love Canal warning sign

Pollution leads to Government regulations

Pollution is nothing new and has been in existence since humans appeared. The more evolved we become, the more dangerous the pollution from chemicals spills becomes.

The next abandoned Superfund (CERCLA) town may be yours. The term will be explained further down.

That's a frightening thought and it's meant to be. America needs to wake up and citizens have to be vigilant.

The term may sound like a huge jackpot or charity event, but make no mistake, this is something no one wants a part of.

You may be sitting on a toxic landmine and don't even know it. These polluted towns are springing up all over the country. You need to become aware of the sites and where to get information.

The Environmental Protection Agency is in charge of the Superfund site cleanups and determinations of such.

From the EPA website, “A Superfund site is an uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people. Sites are listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) upon completion of Hazard Ranking System (HRS) screening, public solicitation of comments about the proposed site, and after all comments have been addressed.

Most people I know think they understand that the term, “toxic” to mean dangerous and unsafe.They also think they live in a safe and clean place with good water and air quality. The truth of the matter is, no place is immune from pollution and toxicity. You don't have to live in a large city to be affected by pollution. Small and rural towns are also becoming toxic to their residents, without knowing it.

President James Carter


CERCLA becomes law

Most Americans will recall what happened to a small community in upstate New York in the late 70's by the name of Love Canal. A developer bought the property and built a housing community, unbeknownst to the consumers who later bought the homes.

The residents were slowly being poisoned by the underground water that was contaminated by the previous waste dumped by the US Army and later by the Hooker Chemical and Plastics Corporation.

The heavy rains had brought the oil drums and other contaminants to the surface and people started to notice an increase in cancer cases.

President Jimmy Carter allocated federal funds and ordered the Federal Disaster Assistance Agency to assist the City of Niagara Falls to remedy the Love Canal site. Eventually all residents had to relocate and vacate the entire community. To this day, the soil tests still reveal dangerous levels of contaminants and is unfit for human habitation.

On December 11, 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (also known as "CERCLA" or "Superfund"), creating a federal program to clean up the nation's uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Through Superfund, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its partners are authorized to address abandoned, accidentally spilled, and illegally dumped hazardous wastes that pose current or future threats to human health or the environment”


EPA List of Priority Contaminants

There are sites to check if your town or county is involved in a spill or cleanup that the EPA

is in charge of. It has a page listing the contaminants they deem as the most unsafe and toxic.

They are:

  • asbestos

  • dioxin

  • lead

  • mercury

  • radiation

  • soil bio-availability

This page goes into greater detail here:

Dr. Sanja Gupta Toxic Towns Report

In a video report from Dr. Sanja Gupta on CNN's Toxic Towns, he interviews folks from various areas about their mysterious illnesses. It is not supported by Hubpages so you may need to search the CNN website. It is not longer showing here.

Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich today
Erin Brockovich today | Source

Citizens need to be vigilant about polluters

Keeping a check on the progress and asking questions of your state Representatives may help.

Knowledge is power and trusting elected officials who may be working for the corporations that caused the pollution is a problem.

Many elections are funded by big business so naturally the official is going to want to protect their job and benefactor. Keeping them honest is the duty to everyone who lives in a community.

Erin Brockovich is the most well-known advocate for fighting the big corporations that have polluted the water supply of the small town of Hinkley’s Water for over 30 years.

She fought Pacific Gas & Electric had been poisoning the water supply but denied any wrong-doing and Erin doggedly pursued them , brought a lawsuit against them and finally got the federal government involved.

January 2012, Erin and her team of investigators were asked by parents of an upstate New York community of LeRoy, to help. The 12 -15 teenage girls from the local high school all began to develop strange tourettes-type symptoms.

Local doctors think they are all suffering from stress ,but other believe these are neurological problems brought on by chemical spill. There was a train derailment in 1970 that spilled cyanide and an industrial solvent called trichloroethene near the school.

More Abandoned Towns

Another town that has abandoned and no as well publicized as Love canal was Times Beach, Missouri. The federal government discovered to be contaminated with dioxin and PCB contaminants in used oil that was spread in the early 1970s to keep the dust down on the gravel road.

It was later bought by the Federal government and relocated it's residents. Now the former town is a park;all the homes and roads were bull-dozed and covered.

The former mining town of Picher, Oklahoma is all but abandoned since it became a Superfund town back in the 1983,due to lead and zinc infiltrating the water supply.

The Feds bought the residents out and relocated them To add insult to injury, a tornado wiped away most of what was left of the town in 2008.

Summary of Superfund towns

Pollution has changed the face of and is responsible for wiping out many small towns in the country. People have developed mysterious symptoms that went uninvestigated for a few generations.

Erin Brockovich has tirelessly fought for the citizens of small toxic towns and gave a voice to those who needed help. There are toxic towns all over this country and no one knows for sure how many are time bombs waiting to unleash the harmful effects of chemical dumping.

The EPA was formed to aid those in the greatest need so stay on top of the government agencies as their funding is being cut.

The fact that many people became ill and some died from cancer and other diseases is a tragedy. It's also sad for the residents to know that their memories are forever tainted.

The childhood homes are gone, the birthday parties and cookouts in the backyard or the high school prom and graduation can never be revisited.

All they have a bad memories and nightmares of relocating and forever wondering if they will develop cancer or another life-threatening disease in the future.

It's frightening thought that you may be a walking time bomb. Do you know what to do if you suspect that there is a toxic situation in your area?

Dealing with local authorities is not always fruitful and may be dangerous for some in small rural towns that depend on the few industries that provide a living. Some may want to report anonymously to an out of town reporter or news station for coverage. Contact the EPA or people like Erin for help.

This article was intended to remind the readers that there are still toxic communities and that citizens need to stay focused and aware of what is happening in their community.

We all know that cities are polluted and toxic to a degree but rural areas can be far worse since the pollution is seldom seen until it's too late.

The economic climate has decreased funding to many federally-funded sites and programs so this may be included. It's up to each individual to have a safe environment and stay on top of the government clean ups.

© 2011 Stacie L


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