Superfund is the nation's program to clean up the most dangerous hazardous waste sites. The Superfund law mandates that parties responsible for hazardous waste sites (i.e., waste generators, site owners, site operators, and waste transporters) shall be financially liable for cleaning them. If responsible parties cannot be located, are unable to perform cleanups, or refuse to do so, EPA can conduct the cleanup action and seek recovery of associated costs from these delinquent parties. As the Superfund reauthorization effort ensues, it is clear that few unequivocally applaud past Superfund performance. Collectively, communities, industry, and government are critical about whether the Superfund program has actually achieved Congressional goals-speedy, effective, efficient, and permanent cleanups. Discontent and frustration is especially pronounced within communities of color. The 1986 Amendments authorized EPA to make grants of up to $50,000 to citizens affected by an NPL site, which ostensibly enable community awareness and involvement in the remedy development, selection, and implementation process. Having experienced the most profound deficiencies of Superfund implementation, communities of color are uniquely positioned to offer meaningful suggestions for improving the program. This Essay focuses on several specific reforms which will provide immediate relief to communities in distress and will respond to the need for increased public participation in the Superfund process. These specific reforms involve the following areas: Native American Programs, Technical Assistance Grants, Community Working Groups, Health Assessments, Technologies Clearinghouse and Citizen Suits.
Communities of Color and Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Expanding Public Participation in the Federal Superfund Program,
21 Fordham Urb. L.J. 671
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