According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a superfund site is an area in which the following toxins have contaminated the location:
- Soil contaminants
- Additional toxins (such as PFAS)
A superfund site can arise when these hazardous materials are left out in the open and are unattended to. Superfund sites tend to be located in manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills, and mining sites, according to the EPA.
In 1980, congress created the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to address incidents following both disasters at Love Canal andValley of the Drums, two toxic waste dump sites. CERCLA also supports superfund programs making an effort to clean up contaminated sites with hazardous waste.
CERCLA is also used to enforce the cleanup of contamination sites for parties that are deemed responsible. If the responsible parties do not clean up the site, they may be required to pay the government for the cleanup work.
The EPA’s Cleanup Process
Cleaning up a superfund site is no easy task. It takes several steps and precautions to remove hazardous materials from a contaminated location safely. The EPA lists nine steps it takes to clean up a superfund site, which includes:
- An initial site inspection
- Work with the National Priorities List (NPL) to begin the site listing process
- Investigate the site
- Determine a remedy
- Design and plan the remedy for cleanup
- Complete all construction
- Post-construction assessments
- EPA removes the site from the NPL
- Begin the redevelopment and reuse of the site
While you may be familiar with the other common contaminates the EPA says are typically found at superfund sites, you may have never heard of PFAS, which stands for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PFAS chemicals include both perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which are known as toxic “forever” chemicals, for their inability to be broken down in the environment.
PFAS are in a variety of consumer products, such as Teflon and other non-stick cookware items, and heat, stain, and oil-resistant materials, according to the CDC. Humans are exposed to these forever chemicals in many ways, such as through our food and our drinking water.
Once PFAS have contaminated our groundwater and soils, the food that is grown from these resources is exposed and can contaminate humans. Companies that use PFAS pose the risk of emitting these chemicals into the environment, such as our drinking water.
In 2010, the State of Minnesota filed a lawsuit against 3M for the company’s role in contaminating the drinking water in the Twin Cities with PFAS. In 2018, they reached a settlement in the amount of $850 million, according to the Minnesota Attorney General.
Identifying Superfund Sites
When concerned about superfund sites in your area, the EPA has a searchable resource that allows you to identify contamination sites that are currently or recently deleted from the Superfund’s NPL. Currently, there are approximately 420 entries on the list.
PFAS Class Action Lawsuits
At a superfund site, the EPA goes to work as they address large-scale contamination sites and environmental disasters. These contamination sites include PFAS, which can contaminate soil and water, entering our bodies through our food and drinking water.
There are many health risks associated with high levels of PFAS exposure in humans. According to the EPA, humans that regularly encounter PFAS chemicals in the environment (such as in drinking water) may suffer from certain cancers, experience increased cholesterol levels, face immune system complications, and more.
If you have been exposed to the toxic “forever” chemicals known as PFAS from a superfund site, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your damages by pursuing a class action or personal injury lawsuit. Some recoverable awards include compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Transportation bills
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future loss of wages
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial costs (if your loved one passed away)
This is not a full list of the compensation you could be entitled to after being exposed to PFAS from a superfund site. An attorney from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can give you an estimate of your case’s value in a free case evaluation. To learn more about your potential legal recourse options, call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today with a free case review at (800) 788-4155.