The federal Clean Water Act exists to protect water sources in the United States and to preserve the chemical and biological integrity of the sources of that water. The goal of the act is not only to preserve water as an accessible resource that people require but to also preserve the biological diversity of the country's ecosystems as a natural resource in its own right. This preservation helps with the continuation of traditional activities such as hunting and forestry as well as modern cultural, recreational, and commercial use of the resources.
Readers may be aware that the mining industry is currently experiencing significant financial challenges due to lack of demand. As a result, workers are being laid off, companies are filing for bankruptcy, and mines are being abandoned. Along with these mine closings, there is an increased risk to the environment.
We have previously written on this blog about the Superfund cleanup process, which is overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency. In previous discussions of the process, we have spoken about the common scenario of industrial plants causing environmental pollution as a result of routine operations, but this is not the only way a site can become contaminated.
In our last post, we spoke a bit about when a party can be held liable for cleanup of a contaminated site as well as the extent to which a potentially liable party can be held accountable. As we mentioned, though, there are some circumstances that can lead to reduced or no liability for a contaminating party.
We are continuing to look at the Superfund cleanup process, particular how the Environmental Protection Agency holds parties accountable for their contributions to toxic waste. We’ve already spoken briefly about the three characteristics of Superfund liability. Now, the question is: when is liability triggered and what exactly is a contaminating party responsible for?
Last time, we looked briefly at the general outline of the Superfund cleanup process, beginning with the discovery of a potentially contaminated site all the way through completion of cleanup efforts and evaluation of the need for long-term protection of a site. One of the points we’d like to touch on briefly is liability. How does the Environmental Protection Agency go about holding contaminating parties liable?
In our previous post, we spoke about a Superfund site on the grounds of the old Linden Chemical Plant near Brunswick, where the least tern population has been found to be contaminated from migration of toxins through the fish supply.
You know the old saying about the canary in a coal mine? Something like that is currently happening along the Georgia coast with a species of bird known as least terns. Researchers from the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory have found a blend of toxic chemicals among six nesting populations if last terns in areas surrounding a section of land that used to host the manufacture of insulation materials.
In our last post, we spoke about the controversy that has arisen from Kinder Morgan’s pipeline proposal. Much of the controversy, we noted, is connected to the possible exercise of eminent domain in building the pipeline. It isn’t clear at this point how far the project will progress, but one thing that can be said with certainty is that the company has its opponents.
We’ve been speaking in recent posts about the Superfund cleanup process, how it works, and its purpose. What we want to highlight here is that citizens and communities have the opportunity to get involved in the Superfund cleanup process and see that their interests are represented in remedial investigations and feasibility studies, and ultimately that they are addressed when those plans are carried out.