While I recognize that EPA has made some administrative changes in the Superfund program, it is not nearly enough and a Congressional overhaul of the entire system is desperately needed. We must:
1. We must shift the program to the States and local communities.
2. We must improve the cleanup process and shorten the time it takes to cleanup a site.
3. We must reform the liability structure to ensure that parties are responsible for only their own actions, not others.
The best way to change the system is to get the cleanups down at the State level. The added bureaucracy of the Federal government only adds unnecessary costs and red tape to the process. Cleanups are delayed and more people are exposed to hazardous waste under the federal system. I have one example from Oklahoma that illustrates this perfectly.
Two former refineries were purchased by the same company, ARCO. Both had similar wastes and similar remedies and both needed to be cleaned up. The difference was that the State of Oklahoma took the lead for one while the Federal EPA managed the other. The difference was dramatic and underscores the inherent problems of directing a local cleanup process from Washington D.C. The EPA site took eight years longer and $37 million dollars more.
The State site was a refinery located in Vinta, Oklahoma. Remediation began in 1989, took less than three years, and only cost $6 million dollars.
The Federal site was a refinery located in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Remediation began in 1985 and was finished 11 years later in 1996 at a cost of $43 million dollars.
Both remedies involved the solidification and on site landfilling of petroleum refinery acid sludges.
The extra federal costs included multiple demonstrations of solidification technologies which added years to the project and extra EPA reviews of the design documents which caused the project to be delayed numerous times. It actually took longer for the EPA to review the documents than it did to produce them.
At the conclusion, the State site cost $92 per cubic yard to cleanup while the EPA site cost $313 per cubic yard. And this was not a site that was~~ cleaned up fifteen years ago, it was just finished last year while we were debating Superfund. We need to get more sites cleaned up at the State level, they do it cheaper, faster, and more efficiently than the Federal government will ever be able to do.
Mr. Chairman, I am looking forward to working with you on this legislation so that we can finally get these Superfund sites cleaned up and off the list.