Report: Toxic waste cleanup is underfunded and lagging behind, harming health

Companies have left behind thousands of toxic sites that are poisoning Americans' air, water and environment—but cleanup has slowed to a crawl, putting public health at risk.

One in six Americans still lives within three miles of a toxic waste site hazardous enough to be approved or proposed for cleanup under the federal Superfund program. But a dearth of funding has lead to a drop-off in cleanup completion rates, found "Superfund Underfunded," a report compiled by our research partners at Environment America Research & Policy Center. A tax on the petroleum and chemical industries originally kept the vital Superfund program funded -- until 1995, when Congress failed to renew the "Polluter Pays Tax."

“From Love Canal to today’s ‘forever chemicals’ crisis, toxic waste has poisoned our waterways and the drinking water of countless Americans,” said John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Reinstating the Polluter Pays policy will not only hasten cleanup of current waste sites but also help drive companies towards safer alternatives and prevent future contamination.”

Environment America is calling on Congress to reinstate the Polluter Pays Tax.

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Photo: New Jersey has more toxic sites than any state in the country. Credit: Dan Jeffrey Via Flickr, CC BY NC ND 2.0