Environment

What the EPA’s accelerated Superfund cleanups could mean for Missouri and St. Louis

When Missouri Representative Doug Clemens (D-St. Ann) heard that President Biden’s recently passed infrastructure legislation includes a $1 billion investment in a backlog of Superfund cleanups, he was thrilled. Two of 49 locations across the US Specific US Environmental Protection Agency To accelerate attention as part of this first wave of funding in Missouri.

But Clemens said the Missouri Environmental Protection Agency’s plans — which include volatile organic chemicals The soil and groundwater in southwest St. Louis County Valley Park Township and Ozark Foothills Town, Vienna – are still less than required in the region.

“Our TCE [trichloroethylene] Location not too far from where I live [my] Clemens said about the constant need. We’re sitting with areas north of St. Louis that haven’t yet begun to address them. …and it’s interesting how predominantly African American areas seem to have been left out of the equation – in a way [there] Not as valuable as it is in the suburbs.”

The Times Beach clean-up disaster, involving the use of a waste incinerator, which has sparked citizen protests in the 1990s since the strategy launched dioxin into the air, cost $200 million.

In its December 17 announcement, the Environmental Protection Agency noted that one in four black and Hispanic Americans lives within three miles of a Superfund site across the United States. The statement also said that the EPA “is committed to carrying out this work in line with President Biden’s Justice Initiative 40. By promoting environmental justice and integrating equity considerations into all aspects of the Superfund cleanup process.”

Clemens said he hoped the new influx of money would help ensure “doing justice” in the future. Longtime environmental activist in St. Louis Steve Taylor says some of Clemens’ concerns St. Louis live He believes there is much more to be done in a region that has seen “decades of neglect” as well as a lack of transparency.

“There is a long legacy of pollution in this region,” said Taylor, who now serves as press secretary for the Global Environmental Justice Project. And the EPA wants it off the books—you want it off the lists, you want it cleaned up. But are cleanings enough? “

On Monday’s showAnd We heard more from Taylor, who joined an on-air conversation alongside Bruce Morrison, president of the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center. They discussed some of the major Superfund sites in the St. Louis area, researching what cleanups look like and why progress is often slow.

Morrison noted that while the newly allocated Superfund investments are significant, the 49 sites identified to accelerate interest are among more than 1,300 projects across the United States, including 33 in Missouri and 45 in Illinois.

Steve Taylor (left) and Bruce Morrison joined forces on Monday for St.  Lewis is on the air

Evie Hemphill

/

St. Louis Public Radio

Steve Taylor (left) and Bruce Morrison joined forces on Monday for St. Lewis is on the air.

“There are projects that weren’t even on the list,” the attorney added, “where a responsible party has, in theory at least, agreed to clean up something — and there are still many sites that we haven’t known about.”

In Valley Park and Vienna, remediation of soil pollution is central to the EPA’s clean-up plans.

“in a [Vienna]Morrison explained that people cannot drink water without cleaning the water, and the water cannot be cleaned because the soil is polluted. “Contamination from the soil at both locations is hanging in the groundwater. So the EPA will be dealing with soil issues.”

Taylor said that while these clean-ups are important and life-changing for people who live near those polluted areas, there is a lot that needs to be done.

“If you look at the scale and range of the amount of pollution in Missouri, it’s really not that much,” he said. “I mean, we have Radiation fire at West Lake Landfill [where] The cleaning process is constantly expanding. It would not have happened in the first place without the citizen’s incitement and support. So it’s great to have it. But there is a legacy [what] I like to call agency palaces, and citizens have to fend for themselves.”

The conversation touched on several other locations of concern in the St. Louis area. Listen:

The EPA Plans to Clean 2 Superfunds in Missouri—But the St. Louis Area Has A Lot

Listen as host Sarah Finsky speaks with Bruce Morrison of the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center and longtime environmental activist Steve Taylor.

St. Louis live“Bringing you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our neighborhood. The show is hosted by Sarah Vinsky It is produced by Alex HoyerAnd Emily WoodburyAnd Evie Hemphill, And Kayla Drake. Jane Matherglass is our production assistant. The sound engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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