Nov 19, 2019

How climate change threatens Superfund sites

Ben Geman, author of Generate
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Reproduced from a U.S. Government Accountability Office map; Map: Axios Visuals

A newly public federal report finds that 945 Superfund sites — around 60% of the nation's total — could be affected by sea-level rise, wildfires and other climate change-related harms.

Why it matters: The Government Accountability Office report warns of more frequent or intense events that damage the waste sites and "lead to releases of contaminants that could pose risks to human health and the environment."

What's next: The study by the congressional watchdog recommends, among other things, that EPA take steps to integrate climate into the Superfund program's risk and response planning.

But, but, but: EPA, in a response included with the report, pushed back against some of the suggestions.

A senior official writes that the program, under existing practices, "adequately ensure that risks and any effects of severe weather events, that may increase in intensity, duration, or frequency, are woven into risk response decisions" for the sites.

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