2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 31 Jan 2003 15:40:12 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] E.P.A. Takes Second Look at Many Superfund Sites
E.P.A. Takes Second Look at Many Superfund Sites

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 30  After bringing hundreds of polluted sites into
compliance with regulatory standards in the last decade, the
Environmental Protection Agency has learned that a contaminant found at
many of those sites may be more harmful than previously thought. As a
result, the agency is scrambling to re-evaluate its cleanup efforts.

In Silicon Valley, where the E.P.A. is focusing its initial checks, one
house has already been fitted with new ventilation to prevent the
buildup of gases from the residue of the contaminant, a powerful solvent
used to clean electronic components, particularly computer

The contaminant, trichloroethylene, or TCE, has for years been known to
cause cancer as well as respiratory, liver and lung damage. But in
December, the environmental agency published new research concluding
that it was 5 to 65 times as toxic as previously thought, with pregnant
women and other sensitive populations being most at risk.

Elizabeth Adams, the acting branch chief at the agency's Superfund
division for several Western states, including California, said there
was concern that the contaminant might be making its way into the air in
unsafe amounts.

"If there are buildings over shallow groundwater, there's a potential
for vapors to move from the soil and collect inside buildings," Ms.
Adams said. "There is not a short-term risk, but we want to make sure
there's no long-term risk."

Ms. Adams said the agency faced a significant task, however, because of
the sheer number of sites involved. Of the nation's 1,499 Superfund
sites  cleaned, not yet cleaned or in various stages of cleanup 
one-third to one-half are contaminated with TCE, she said, and regional
E.P.A. officials around the country have been told to explore the
problem. She said she did not know how many of the sites now had houses
or businesses built on them.

The finding of added toxicity will "reopen a lot of different sites" to
cleanup, said Lenny Siegel, executive director of the Center for Public
Environmental Oversight, a watchdog group in Mountain View, Calif., in
the heart of Silicon Valley. "Cleanups have been implemented or on their
way to being implemented based on the old standard."

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