EPA superfund cleanup

Environmental Injustice: Black children get new school next to Superfund sites

As usual, Lisa Sorg is right on top of the situation:

What a contrast it would be to the current Aberdeen Elementary and Primary schools. Built in the 1940s, when Aberdeen was formally segregated, the schools are cramped, dilapidated and threadbare. They remind teachers, staff and students – most of whom are from communities of color – of enduring inequality. But this land and this school would be different. Better yet, the property was cheap: $9,000 an acre. It was the first and only offer school district administrators considered.

The land was cheap for a reason. It is sandwiched between two Superfund sites where pesticides were dumped for 50 years. It is located next to an industrial area and within a mile of 10 air pollution sources.

The more infuriating part of this is the fact that everybody involved in this decision knew damn well this plot of land was bad news. You'd be hard-pressed to find so many hazardous sites gathered together so densely anywhere else, and if you'll take a glance at that image above, the school is going just above that big red-orange blurp that signifies groundwater tainted with (among other things) TCE. But when it comes to local politics, once the fix is in, it's damned near impossible to convince people to step back:

Superfund sites are ticking time-bombs in flood-prone NC

Containing a cornucopia of deadly toxins:

Among the Superfund sites most at risk from Florence is Horton Iron and Metal, a former shipbreaking operation and fertilizer manufacturing site in a low-lying floodplain along the Cape Fear River outside Wilmington, North Carolina. The 7.4-acre site is heavily contaminated with pesticides, asbestos, toxic metals and cancer-causing PCBs.

Upriver along the Cape Fear is Carolina Transformer Co., a 5-acre Superfund site in Fayetteville that also contains contaminated soil and groundwater contaminated with PCBs. Forecasts call for the river to crest Monday at Fayetteville at more than 62 feet — nearly 30 feet above flood stage.

Some of you younger readers may not be familiar with Poly-chlorinated Byphenyls (PCBs), because they were outlawed before you were born. And in a perfect world, you wouldn't be reading about them now, at least not in the context of current events. But we have a really bad habit of letting polluting industries file bankruptcy and/or change their corporate structure, so they can walk away from toxic nightmares they've created. Superfund sites are scattered all across the country, and efforts to clean them up properly are usually mired in legal maneuvering that can last decades. Anyway, back to the PCBs:

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