Environment & Public Works Committee
Sen. Bill Nelsonís Testimony
The Superfund Oversight Hearing will examine the underlying basis for change in projected site cleanups, the impact of Superfund site cleanup progress on communities, and whether the shift in funding composition has played a role in slowing down Superfund site cleanups.
Madame Chairwoman, Members of the Environment & Public Works Committee, thank you for allowing me to give a statement regarding the Superfund program and its impact on Florida.
Out of the 50 states, Florida is ranked 6th in the number of Superfund sites with 51 currently on the national priority list.†
I have visited several Superfund sites in Florida including those in and around Pensacola, Jacksonville and Tampa.
Each site I visited reinforced to me the great need each of these communities have for fast, efficient clean up - without funding delays.†† Every day a cleanup initiative is put off, the ill health effects, environmental damage and economic hardship compound.
As you all know, the purpose of the Superfund program was to ensure that polluters pay.
The Bush Administrationís decision to not re-authorize the corporate polluterís tax shifts the burden of clean up of these hazardous waste sites to the taxpayer.
As a result, taxpayers will be paying more and fewer sites will be cleaned up.
Enacted in 1980, Superfundís† (CERCLAís) purpose is to authorize the federal government to respond swiftly to hazardous substance emergencies and protect public health and the environment by cleaning up the nationís worst hazardous waste sites.
The law seeks to make those responsible for the improper disposal of hazardous waste bear the costs and accept responsibility for their actions, and it also established the Hazardous Substance Superfund Trust Fund to finance response actions where a liable party cannot be found or is incapable of paying cleanup costs.
Taxes were re-authorized under Pres. Reagan and Pres. Bush Sr. The Republican House did not re-authorize the tax in 1995 when Pres. Clinton requested it.
In the past two years, there has been a steep decline in the pace of Superfund cleanup completions.
From 1997 to 2000, EPA averaged 86 construction completions per year.†
In 2001, the Administration weakened this pace by setting a lower goal of 75 construction completions, which EPA missed by 28 completions.† The Administrationís 2003 budget lowers the goal to 40 construction completes.
This is unacceptable.
It appears from the EPAís own website that at least two sites in Florida have been negatively impacted by this slowdown.
The Tower Chemical Company Site in Lake County, Florida Superfund site, an abandoned pesticide manufacturing facility, has been in need of funding for an alternative water supply for more than a year.†
The Solitron Microwave Superfund site in Port Salerno, Florida is awaiting funding to install badly needed water lines.† However, according to the EPA website, obtaining the necessary funding in fiscal year 2002 is ďunlikely.Ē
These funding deficiencies highlight the impact of the 46% decline in the pace of cleanup of the nationís most contaminated toxic waste sites in the past 2 years.
This slowdown impairs public health and environmental quality.
The Administration must ensure a continued source of future funding to rebuild the Superfund surplus, which enables EPA to protect public health and environmental quality at sites that have no viable parties or which have recalcitrant parties who refuse to clean up the contamination.
For these reasons, I support re-authorizing the polluterís pay tax and urge the EPA to release all of its information about those sites that are being deprived funding.† Our communities deserve this information and it is imperative to their health that they get it.