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Superfund sites with toxic waste were flooded by Sandy, confirms EPA

epalogo_optBY REBECCA SHEEHAN
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Since Hurricane Sandy socked the shores of New Jersey and neighboring New York over two weeks ago, residents have been left in a state of disarray. Cleaning up affected areas, getting electricity grids back in order and finding a safe, warm place for displaced residents to live have been the top priorities on everyone’s minds. Now, courtesy of a Wall Street Journal report, toxic waste can now be added to the ever-growing list of concerns in the aftermath of the superstorm.

Even though the environmental impact of the storm is still being assessed, The Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), believes a few of those sites, deemed to be some of the most dangerous toxic waste sites in the country, “were impacted by the storm" as stated by Newser.com.

A Superfund site is considered to be one of the most hazardous toxic-waste sites in the country, as defined by the EPA. The program was launched by Congress in 1980 following the Love Canal disaster, which wreaked havoc on a community of several hundred families who settled over a former chemical dump in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

While administering cleanup among the 45 Superfund sites, the EPA was not capable of telling the Wall Street Journal just how many of the sites were flooded on the night of Hurricane Sandy (Oct. 29). But its initial appraisals show that several "were impacted by the storm," including a site contaminated by lead near Sayreville, N.J., and the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek sites in New York City. New York state officials believe the floodwaters surged over the sites avoiding rustling up low-lying chemicals.

"There really has to be a careful evaluation of whether there has been any disturbing of the waste," says a former New Jersey EPA official. In the mean time there are numerous other pollution risks to address with immediate concern, including multiple fuel spills in the state of New Jersey and damage to water treatment plants resulting in untreated sewage entering waterways.

The 45 Superfund sites were identified by The Wall Street Journal using data from the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Nationwide there are 1,313 active Superfund sites nationwide on the EPA's National Priorities List with New Jersey having the most, at 111. New York is fourth with 87.

 

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