Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cration of Superfunds by Karen Garrett

The Creation of a Superfund
Love Canal, New York
Karen Garrett
Environmental Studies
Professor David Terrell
Warner Pacific College
September 14, 2010

The Creation of a Superfund
Love Canal, New York
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, better known as Superfund was enacted in 1980 in response to a serious disaster beginning in the 1920’s that was not made public until the late 1970’s; Love Canal. Love Canal, NY was an aborted canal between the upper and lower Niagara Rivers east of Niagara Falls. The aborted trench was used as a chemical dumpsite. In 1953, Hooker Chemicals and plastics covered the trench with soil and sold the land to the city for $1.
By the end of the 1950’s an entire community had been built on the site, one hundred houses and a school. After heavy rain in August 1978, the chemicals began leaching from the ground. Eckardt C. Beck reported in the EPA Journal:
I visited the canal area at that time. Corroding waste-disposal drums could be seen breaking up through the grounds of backyards. Trees and gardens were turning black and dying. One entire swimming pool had been had been popped up from its foundation, afloat now on a small sea of chemicals. Puddles of noxious substances were pointed out to me by the residents. Some of these puddles were in their yards, some were in their basements, others yet were on the school grounds. Everywhere the air had a faint, choking smell. Children returned from play with burns on their hands and faces. (Encyclopedia of Earth, 2008)
This tragedy began an intense effort to pass legislation that would protect our country from environmental contamination. The bill is funded by a tax on hazardous substances and is managed by the United States Department of Treasury. The most recent financial statements for the fund list total assets at just over $3.7 billion (United States Department of Treasury, 2010). This fund is used to clean up toxic sites similar to Love Canal, New York. Currently there are forty-six Superfund sites in Oregon and one nundred seventeen in Washington.
The Superfund acts to clean up sites of contamination that are neglected or where there is no clear responsible party of the contamination. The fund uses penalties such as statutory penalties, which can be fines up to $37,500 per infraction. Stipulated penalties give the responsible party a clear understanding of what their company will be responsible for if they fail to comply with their agreement with the Superfund. Finally, the fund can use treble penalties; it can recoup up to three times the actual cleanup cost if the responsible party fails to comply in a timely or sufficient manner.
If an organization does not agree to work with the superfund or denies responsibility, the fund will issue a unilateral administrative order which will “require parties to undertake a response action, either a short or long-term cleanup” (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2010). If a responsible party fails to cooperate with a unilateral order, the Superfund will press charges allowing the courts to assess penalties up to and including the treble penalties outlined above.
Beyond acting as an environmental cleanup management agency, the Superfund encourages community involvement. The Superfund encourages citizens to report any suspected spills of hazardous materials and to become trained in remediation of hazardous material spills. By eliciting community involvement, the fund is able to educate the citizens while empowering them to protect the environment.

Encyclopedia of Earth. (2008, February). Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), United States. Retrieved September 9, 2010, from The Encyclopedia of Earth:,_Compensation,_and_Liability_Act_(CERCLA),_United_States
United States Department of Treasury. (2010, September). Hazardous Substance Superfund Trust Fund Financial Statement. Retrieved September 10, 2010, from FTP site:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2010, September). Superfund Unilateral Orders. Retrieved September 13, 2010, from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

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