Climate change increases risks to 60% of Superfund sites

November 19, 2019

A report issued by the Government Accountability Office has found that 60% of U.S. Superfund sites are vulnerable to climate change.

Superfund sites are contaminated locations where hazardous waste materials have been disposed of improperly or otherwise mismanaged. There are thousands of Superfund sites in the U.S., and about 50 such sites in Indiana.

With the changing climate, communities across the country will face changing weather patterns, flooding, and worsening disasters. These climate change effects could distribute Superfund contamination to nearby communities and residential areas.

A 2017 review by The Associated Press determined that “2 million people in the U.S. live within a mile of 327 Superfund sites in areas prone to flooding or vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change.”

The GAO determined that 945 out of the 1,571 Superfund sites examined during a recent study are “at greater risk of floods, storm surge from major hurricanes, wildfires or sea-level rise of 3 feet or more.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been made aware of the report, but stated that “the Superfund program’s existing processes and resources adequately ensure that risks and any adverse effects of severe weather events, that may increase in intensity, duration, or frequency, are woven into risk assessments.”

“By refusing to address the worsening impacts of climate change – from flooding to wildfires to more frequent extreme weather events – at our nation’s Superfund sites, this EPA is putting public health at risk,” Sen. Tom Carper (Delaware) of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee told the AP.

The full AP article is available here.

Climate change increases risks to 60% of Superfund sites