The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a list Friday of 21 highly-polluted sites that are being targeted for immediate attention, a move recent administrations have forgone.
The list is part of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s initiative to emphasize the Superfund program, which aims to decontaminate the nation’s most polluted sites. A task force Pruitt organized recommended issuing the list over the summer.
“By elevating these sites we are sending a message that EPA is, in fact, restoring its Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the agency’s mission,” Pruitt said in a statement. “Getting toxic land sites cleaned up and revitalized is of the utmost importance to the communities across the country that are affected by these sites.”
Pruitt ordered the Superfund Task Force to develop plans to urgently decontaminate the listed sites. (RELATED: Pruitt Orders EPA To Begin Cleaning Highly Polluted Sites Quicker, Hold Polluters Accountable)
“By getting these sites cleaned up, EPA will continue to focus on ways we can directly improve public health and the environment for people across America,” Pruitt said in the statement.
Some of 21 sites have been part of the Superfund for more than 30 years, and the agency has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to clean them.
The EPA has more than 1,300 Superfund sites, and health hazards on the premises of at least 117 of those have either threatened humans or have been unknown for 30 years, and another 111 still-dangerous sites have been listed for at least 10 years, a previous Daily Caller News Foundation investigation revealed.
Early DCNF investigations have shown the extent to which previous EPA administrations have ignored the Superfund program. One site in Philadelphia, for example, has housed military pollution for more than 50 years.
Meanwhile, critics have pointed out that Pruitt’s proposed budget cuts will create a significant barrier to cleaning Superfund sites.
Pruitt’s list included the American Cyanamid site, which TheDCNF highlighted in one investigation and has been part of the Superfund program since 1983. The EPA listed that the site’s pollution is not under control.
Another site on the list is the Bonita Peak Mining District in Colorado, which includes the Gold King Mine. An EPA crew dug into the mine in August 2015, which unleashed a 3 million gallon flood of toxic waste and ultimately poisoned drinking water for three states and the Navajo Nation.
The EPA subsequently covered up numerous, significant details about the disaster, several DCNF investigations have found. No one has been punished for the agency-caused spill, even though the EPA’s watchdog presented evidence to a U.S. attorney that a supervisor violated the Clean Water Act and made false statements.
Some reports have shown that the site is dangerous to fish, but not to humans. Other studies question if aquatic life has ever been viable, given the naturally high volume of minerals in the area’s rivers.
Also on the list is Tar Creek in Oklahoma, which was recently the focal point of a Politico investigation. The article highlighted that Pruitt kept a state audit of potential corruption secret.
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