2014 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2014 21:59:27 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: [CPEO-BIF] "Wasteland"
No one talks much about toxic Superfund sites anymore. But 49 million Americans live close to one.

By Paul Voosen
National Geographic
December, 2014

For most of his adult life Jun Apostol has lived, willingly, in the shadow of a mountain of waste. An accountant who’s now retired, he planted his family in 1978 in a modest new house in Montebello, an industrial cum bedroom community just east of Los Angeles. Behind the house, in neighboring Monterey Park, sat an active landfill - but don’t worry, the developer said. Soon it would close and become a park or maybe even a golf course.


Today nearly one in six Americans lives within three miles of a major hazardous waste site, though few people could tell you where it is. These sites fall under the Superfund program, created by Congress in 1980 after a high-profile controversy at the Love Canal development in Niagara Falls, New York. Love Canal’s residents crusaded against the Hooker Chemical Company after they found barrels of its chemical waste in their backyards, which had been built on a former dump. Love Canal left many Americans wondering, Could this be happening near me?

There are more than 1,700 Superfund sites, and each has a story. Some are sacrifices to national security, like the 586 square miles at Hanford, in Washington State, where reactors have made plutonium for atomic bombs since the Manhattan Project. Others are the shells of mines, like the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana, excavated in pursuit of copper and now filling with water. There are chemical manufacturers, smelters, and grain elevators that were once drenched in fumigant. Water, which can spread poison, is a common theme: New York City’s Gowanus Canal is listed, as are parts of the Hudson River and the harbor of New Bedford, Massachusetts. And then there are the many, many landfills.


For the entire article, see


Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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