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Bush Administration Withholds Toxic Cleanup Information

 http://commondreams.org/news2003/0717-09.htm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 17, 2003
2:09 PM
CONTACT: U.S. PIRG
Julie Wolk 202-546-9707



Bush Administration Withholds Toxic Cleanup Information

WASHINGTON - July 17- Nine months into the fiscal year, the Bush Administration has finally provided limited information on a few of the Superfund sites that will receive cleanup funds in FY 2003. No funding information was provided for sites around the country with ongoing cleanup work.
"The Bush Administration is stonewalling the public about funding levels for site cleanups this year. The meager information they have provided shows that only 50% of new cleanups will get funding," said Julie Wolk, an Environmental Health Advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. "The Bush Administration is on its way to its worst year ever in toxic waste cleanup, hiding information from the public, and leaving millions of Americans exposed to dangerous toxic chemicals," said Wolk.

Last year, 46 sites that requested cleanup funds did not receive full funding, resulting in a 45% shortfall in funding. Unfortunately, EPA's announcement does not indicate how much money sites requested for FY03 compared to what they may receive. EPA made public only the list of "new starts" - sites that will receive cleanup funds for the first time. 10 of 20 new starts will receive some funding this year. Of the 10 sites not receiving funding in FY03, 5 also did not receive funding in FY02. These include some of the nation's most toxic waste sites, Atlas Tack (MA), Continental Steel (IN), Jennison-Wright (IL), Jasper Creosoting (TX), and Hart Creosoting (TX).

EPA cleaned up only 42 toxic waste sites last year, down more than 50% from the late 1990's. Instead of polluters paying to clean up their toxic waste, taxpayers will likely pay 79 percent or more of program costs in 2004, up from 18 percent in 1996, and will pay for nearly the entire program in 2005. Superfund's original 'polluter pays' funding mechanism expired in 1995, and Superfund's trust fund, at a high of $3.6 billion in 1995, will be nearly exhausted by the end of 2004, leaving taxpayers to pay for the entire program. Former Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton all collected and supported reinstatement of the polluter pays fees, but the Bush Administration has expressed its opposition to reinstating the fees.

"The number and percentage of Superfund sites set to receive cleanup funds this year is pathetically low - the Bush Administration's vast under funding of the Superfund program puts more and more Americans at risk of toxic exposure in their own communities," said Wolk. "Congress and the Bush Administration should reinstate Superfund's polluter pays fees to protect public health and make polluters, not taxpayers, foot the bill for cleanups."

TEN "NEW STARTS" WILL NOT RECEIVE FUNDING IN FY03: Italicized sites did not receive funding in FY02

1. Jennison-Wright Corp., IL

2. Continental Steel Corp., IN*

3. Marion Pressure Treating Co., LA

4. Atlas Tack Corp., MA

5. New Hampshire Plating Co., NH

6. Mohawk Tannery, NH

7. North Railroad Ave. Plume, NM

8. McCormick and Baxter Creosoting Co., OR

9. Hart Creosoting Co., TX

10. Jasper Creosoting Co., TX

*Three separate projects at this site were not funded

TEN "NEW STARTS" TO RECEIVE SOME FUNDING IN FY03:

1. Vasquez Boulevard and Interstate 70, CO

2. Central Wood Preserving Co., LA

3. Mallard Bay Landing Bulk Plant, LA

4. Newton County Wells, MO

5. DeRewal Chemical Co., NJ

6. Fruit Avenue Plume, NM

7. United Creosoting Co., TX

8. Eureka Mills, UT

9. Pownal Tannery, VT

10. Bunker Hill, ID*

*Only two of three separate projects at this site were funded