Scorecard profiles nearly 1,300 federal Superfund sites scheduled for cleanup on the National Priorities List (NPL), commonly known as the federal Superfund program. The law treats these as some of our nation's worst toxic waste sites, and makes them eligible for long-term remediation. Contamination at Superfund sites results from improper handling of waste and toxic materials, often spanning many decades. Some Superfund sites are old waste disposal facilities, while others were various types of industrial production facilities at which unauthorized dumping and inadvertent spills occurred.
About 11 million people in the U.S., including 3-4 million children, live within 1 mile of a federal Superfund site. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reports that about half of NPL sites assessed from 1992 through 1996 present a hazard to human health, with the highest likelihood of exposure through contaminated ground water and soil. Of the 30 hazardous substances found most often at these sites, 18 are known or suspect human carcinogens, and virtually all are associated with non-cancer health effects (such as toxicities to the liver, kidney, or reproductive systems, including birth defects and low birthweight). Superfund sites such as Love Canal in New York, Rocky Flats in Colorado, and
Wells G&H in Woburn, Massachusetts (A Civil Action) have brought increased public attention to this important environmental issue.
More on the Superfund Program's clean-up authority, funding, and current policy debates.
INDUSTRIAL FACILITIES REPORTING TOXIC CHEMICAL RELEASES TO LAND
Scorecard reports on Superfund include information about industrial facilities that report that they are releasing toxic chemicals to land. If improperly managed, these contemporary releases may be creating the Superfund sites of the future. Superfund reports include information about land releases and underground injection.
See Toxics Release Inventory for complete reports on releases to land, air and water. More on the the TRI reporting program.
UNIVERSE OF POTENTIAL CONTAMINATED SITES
There are many other contaminated sites that have not been listed by the federal Superfund program. Numerous sources of land contamination, such as state superfund sites, brownfields, nonhazardous waste disposal facilities, and other land contamination sources are not currently profiled because they are not tracked in national datasets.
DATA SOURCES AND LIMITS
Scorecard's profiles of Superfund sites are derived from NPL Fact Sheets maintained by EPA regions, and from four EPA databases: the Superfund National Assessment Program (SNAP), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System (CERCLIS) database in Envirofacts; the Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) database; and the Remedial Program Managers (RPM) database. Land release and underground injection data are from the Toxics Release Inventory.
There is limited information about many potentially significant sources of contamination. Scorecard's profiles of hazardous waste sites are limited to final and proposed sites on the National Priority List and are derived from multiple sources dating from 1993 to 2004.