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Looking at the Superfund cleanup process, P.1

In our previous post, we spoke about a Superfund site on the grounds of the old Linden Chemical Plant near Brunswick, where the least tern population has been found to be contaminated from migration of toxins through the fish supply.

As we noted, the cleanup efforts for that site goes back to 1994, and are still ongoing, showing just how much damage industry can do to the natural environment. The Superfund cleanup process itself involves a number of steps that can obviously take years to work out. The process begins with the discovery of a contaminated site, which oftentimes occurs when the Environmental Protection Agency is notified of possible contamination by state agencies, EPA regional offices or ordinary citizens. 

When the EPA learns of potential contamination, an evaluation is made regarding the presence and extent of pollution. This involves a site investigation and preliminary assessment as to whether and what short- and long-term responses are necessary for site cleanup. If long-term cleanup is necessary, the site is placed on the National Priorities Listing. Following the initially assessment, further investigation is conducted to determine the nature and extent of contamination and evaluate the likely costs and outcome of cleanup options.

At some point, the EPA makes a decision as to the cleanup activities they will be pursuing for the site, and those plans are approved and implemented. When the cleanup plans are completed, the EPA evaluates the site to determine what actions need to be taken to ensure long-term protection of the environment and human health in relation to the site.

The Superfund cleanup process can be long and arduous, but this is sometimes necessary to ensure an adequate response to environmental contamination. In a future post, we’ll take a look at how the EPA holds contaminating parties accountable for cleanup costs.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, “Cleanup Process,” Accessed Sept. 18, 2015. 


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