Nelson: Toxic clean-up a public health issue
July 1, 2002
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said today's reports that the EPA will stop or slow down clean-up of 33 of the nation's worst toxic sites - including five in Florida - is "our worst fears realized."
After delaying for months a notice to Congress about its plans for cleaning up the 1,222 superfund sites across the country, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disclosed in a June 24 letter to congressional leaders that clean-up on 33 of these sites will be halted or slowed down. Though the EPA's regional offices sought $450 million for remediation of the sites, the administration allotted just $228 million for the work.
The cuts come after the Bush administration drastically reduced the Superfund budget by hundreds of millions of dollars over the past two years. It also has reduced in half the number of sites slated for clean-up.
Additionally, the administration announced it will not seek to reinstate the "polluter pays" principle for funding the program through fees on corporate polluters. Instead, taxpayers will foot the bill. Nelson has cosponsored a bipartisan bill in the Senate to require polluters, instead of taxpayers, to pay for toxic remediation.
"We can't afford to let this type of pollution linger in our neighborhoods," Nelson said. "It's a matter of public health."
In south Lake County, Tower Chemical Co., a former pesticides plant, is leaking chemicals into the Floridan aquifer. Tower, one of the nation's oldest Superfund sites, is slated for cuts. EPA has not disclosed how much Tower will receive for clean-up, but the regional office had requested $250,000 to purchase water filters for nearby homes.
In addition to Tower, other sites in Florida slated to receive less money or none at all include American Creosote Works Inc., Pensacola; Solitron Microwave Inc., Port Salerno; Southern Solvents, Tampa; and Trans Circuits Inc., Lake Park. So far, none of these sites has received federal clean-up money during the 2002 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Florida has 51 polluted sites, making it sixth in the country for the most toxic sites.