Asbestos at Superfund Sites

In professional materials that discuss the dangers of asbestos in the United States, the term ‘Superfund’ is used time and time again. However, many people are unaware of this term, and know little about its history and application to their community. The Superfund program is designed to be a part of your daily life, and knowledge of it will only benefit you and your family. Asbestos attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm encourage the public to educate themselves on this government program to avoid exposure to any harmful toxins.

In 1980, as a response to public health concerns, Congress established the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), informally referred to as the Superfund. As a faction of the EPA, the Superfund’s main aim is to clean up hazardous waste sites and enforce penalties on those responsible for the dangerous sites. The implementation of this law came at a unique time in relation to asbestos use in the United States. It wasn’t until nine years later, in 1989, that the U.S. banned all asbestos-containing products; this applied to manufacturing, processing, distribution, and importation. As the result of the ban, many companies improperly and dangerously disposed of their asbestos-containing products, often dumping the material illegally into the environment or simply abandoning mining and factory operations. Examples of such asbestos-related Superfund sites include the North Ridge Estates Site (Klamath Falls, OR), the Carter Carburetor Site (St. Louis, MO), and the Torch Lake Site (Houghton County, MI).

The goals of Superfund sites are to: protect human health and the environment by cleaning up polluted sites, involve communities in the Superfund process, and make responsible parties pay for work performed at sites.

Superfund sites are “discovered” when the presence of hazardous waste is made known to EPA. The presence of contaminants is often reported by residents, local, state, tribal or federal agencies, or businesses. Sometimes these hazardous wastes are found by EPA during inspections or investigations into complaints.

You can call National Response Center toll-free at 800-424-8802 to report potential releases of hazardous substances and oil 24-hours a day, seven days a week. You can report potential releases of hazardous substances and oil to the NRC as well as to your state, tribal and local authorities.

EPA’s Superfund Community Involvement Program provides individuals affected by hazardous waste sites with information and opportunities to participate as active partners in the decisions that affect the Superfund sites in their community. The community has a voice during all phases of the Superfund process, and plays an important role in assisting EPA with gathering information about the site.

Your involvement is very important. You have the opportunity and the right to be engaged in, and to comment on the work being done at sites in your community.

The National Priorities List (NPL) is a published list of hazardous waste sites in the country that are eligible for federal funding to pay for extensive, long-term cleanup actions under the Superfund remedial program. Examples of asbestos-related sites on the NPL include the John Manville Corp. (Waukegan, IL), Northeast Minneapolis Tremolite Asbestos Site (MN), Clear Creek Management Area (Fresno, CA), BoRit Asbestos (Ambler, PA), Sumas Mountain Site (Whatcom, WA), and Milwaukee Solvay Coke & Glass Site (WI).

After a site is added to the NPL, EPA is required to conduct community interviews and to develop a Community Involvement Plan. EPA must also establish and maintain an information repository and administrative record and inform the public of the availability of these document archives.

Once a site is placed on the NPL, further investigation into the problems at the site and the best way to address them is required. After all of the cleanup alternatives are developed, EPA recommends the option it considers best for the site and offers it to the community for evaluation and comment in a Proposed Plan. A Proposed Plan does the following: summarizes cleanup alternatives studied, includes information on the site history, community participation, the nature and extent of the contamination, and the reasonably anticipated future land uses at the site, and highlights EPA’s recommended cleanup method.

After EPA determines that the physical construction at a site is complete, activities are put in place to ensure that the cleanup actions will protect human health and the environment over the long-term. Maps of the Superfund Community Involvement Offices are available on the EPA website. If you suspect a hazardous site in your area or if you’ve been exposed to dangerous toxins in your community, contact a lung cancer attorney at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to discuss your legal rights and claims.