Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

An evaluation of criteria proposed to reauthorize the cleanup of superfund sites : case studies from EPA's Region X Public Deposited

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  • The United States Congress is currently debating a bill to reauthorize the 1980 Superfund Hazardous Waste Cleanup Law. If this bill is not reauthorized by the end of 1995, the program will either continue in its present form or be eliminated altogether.' As currently administered, the Superfund program sets out goals which are difficult to achieve. This study is designed to suggest methods to optimize resources that we have. This study used six Superfund sites in EPA's Region X as examples of past decisions made at Superfund sites to predict what the actual outcome would be with these sites if the proposed changes are implemented. The purpose of this study was twofold. First, this research provides a historical review of the criteria used by the present Superfund legislation to list and remediate these six sites. Second, it projects changes that might occur in the cleanup of these sites if they were remediated under the new Superfund reauthorization plan. The six sites that were included in this study were United Chrome in Corvallis, Oregon, Yakima Plating, FMC Yakima Pit, and Yakima Pesticide Lab in Yakima, Washington, Allied Plating, in Portland, Oregon, and Teledyne Wah Chang in Albany, Oregon. The results showed that under the proposed guidelines in the reauthorization, four of the six sites studied would be cleaned to a lower level at a lesser cost and that two of the sites would not qualify for listing on the NPL. The results of this study suggest that changes beyond those already included in the reauthorization plan may be appropriate. First, it is suggested that time limits be set up for each step of the cleanup process in order to speed up the process and that this be reinforced by fines and rebates. Second, on-site cleanups should always be recommended over off-site cleanups whenever feasible. Finally, the site screening process should include three specific steps in an effort to clean up more sites in a more quick and efficient manner. This third recommendation includes the following steps: (1) each proposed site will have a preliminary assessment in order to determine the level of contamination and whether the site is qualified for further cleanup; (2) the sites that do qualify will receive a site inspection that would determine how much cleanup is necessary; and, (3) sites having minimal contamination requiring only soil and infrastructure remediation may be diverted to the appropriate state agency for immediate cleanup. Costs may be covered by litigation against the polluter, confiscating and selling the cleaned property, or as a last resort, reimbursement by the EPA. The sites that had slightly more extensive needs would be diverted to the current SACM model and bypass the NPL process. Finally, sites that present major cleanup needs might still go through the current NPL system. By removing the sites from the NPL that could be remediated quickly, however, more money, time, and energy could be allotted to sites that have more extensive pollution and pose a higher risk to the environment and the public's health.
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