US ‘polluter pays’ remediation scheme expands

Five new hazardous waste sites are to be decontaminated by the original polluters after being added onto the US environment agency's Superfund, a "polluter pays" remediation scheme.

Industrial sites added to the list this week include the Matteo & Sons site, a scrap yard in New Jersey that contains a wetland covered with lead from crushed batteries and other toxic waste.

With the addition of five new sites to be cleaned up under the Superfund there are now 61 sites awaiting remediation under the scheme – although the total number of proposed and on-going remediation projects is as high as 1,307.

The list of contaminants polluting the soil and water of the Superfund sites is almost as long, and includes arsenic, chromium, benzene, dichloroethene, dieldrin, dioxins, pentachlorophenol (PCP), polychlorinated biphenlys (PCBs), toluene, toxaphene, trichloroethene (TCE), tetrachloroethene (PCE), xylene, zinc and other heavy metals.

US EPA has managed to find the polluters of around 70% of the sites remediated so far and charged them with the remediation costs.

New sites added to the list this week include mining and landfill sites as well as areas where groundwater has been contaminated, in Illinois, New Jersey, Indiana, Texas and Washington states.

Contaminated land sites are added to the Superfund list through a number of processes, including the EPA’s Hazard Ranking System, designation by states or territories and remediation priority sites, or when they are designated a risk to public health.

The Matteo site for example poses a health risk due to the lead and PCB which has leaked from crushed battery casings into the soil, polluting water resources used for fishing, wildlife, and an adjacent trailer park.

Goska Romanowicz

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