Cleaning Up Hazardous Wastes

Will Congress improve the 'superfund' law?


Concern about pollution from toxic-waste dumps - dramatized by New York's Love Canal - prompted Congress to pass a tough cleanup law in 1980. Known as “superfund,” it quickly became a lightning rod for criticism of federal environmental regulations. Industries and individuals held responsible for toxic-waste sites say the law has driven many innocent parties into bankruptcy while delaying cleanups with expensive litigation. Advocacy groups representing communities near toxic dumps say proposed Republican reforms would enrich corporate profits while ignoring citizens needing protection. The Clinton administration has suggested several reforms to make superfund fairer and more efficient without abandoning the law's “polluter pays” principle: Polluters must clean up the hazardous sites they created.

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