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Superfund Data

Sen. Boxer accuses EPA of withholding data on hazardous waste site cleanup

by David J. Hanson
June 26, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 26

At a contentious hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund & Waste Management on June 15, EPA was accused of withholding details of hazardous waste cleanups from the public.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) charged that, after waiting months for EPA to provide data on a number of Superfund sites, the information she finally received was classified "privileged" and she could not share it outside of the subcommittee. The documents include data on timing of cleanups, funding shortfalls, and human risk, Boxer said. "It's totally unacceptable for EPA to say that members of the community and members of Congress cannot know what is going on in these sites in terms of risk and funding," she said.

Susan P. Bodine, EPA assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response, replied that the documents marked "privileged" only related to funding and enforcement issues and that risk information for the sites was available on the EPA website (

Boxer and other Democrats also complained that the Superfund program is seriously underfunded. Boxer has introduced a bill (S. 3503) to reinstate the tax on chemical and oil companies that originally funded the program but which was allowed to expire in 1995. Republicans, including Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, oppose this tax, stating that it puts an inequitable burden on those companies that did not generate hazardous waste sites.


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