Hurricanes and toxic waste, a recipe for disaster

Hurricanes and toxic waste, a recipe for disaster

As South Carolina waits to find out if Hurricane Irma will impact the state, Hurricane Harvey has shown us there is more than wind and water damage to worry about — toxic waste.

When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designates a toxic waste site as a Superfund site, it means it is one of the nation’s highest contaminated areas scheduled for cleanup. There are 1330 of these toxic waste sites in the United States.  South Carolina has 25 Superfund sites waiting to be cleaned up.

When a hurricane or other extreme weather event floods a toxic waste site, here is what you get.

Harvey Swept Hazardous Mercury Ashore. The Mystery: Its Source.

“Bobby Griffin found the clusters of shiny silver mercury globules scattered across his San Jacinto riverfront property on Tuesday, a few hundred yards from the San Jacinto Waste Pits, a Superfund site that was inundated during last week’s storm.” (The New York Times, September 6, 2017)


According to the news story, “elemental mercury, a liquid metal that breaks into tiny droplets, is a neurotoxin poisonous to the brain and the nervous system.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott told the press on Sunday that the EPA is responsible for monitoring and containing toxic chemicals from threatening the health of Houston residents.

Only one problem, Governor. The EPA doesn’t have the funding from Congress to do the job you expect to get done.  Just ask Bobby Griffin.

And now the Trump Administration is proposing a 31% overall budget cut for the EPA and anywhere from a 20% to 33% cut in funding to clean up the South Carolina’s Superfund sites.

Let’s hope Irma doesn’t flood one of our Superfund sites and put communities in extreme danger.

But even if it doesn’t happen this time, there is always another big storm coming along.

Businesses need to show opposition to cutting the EPA’s budget by signing this letter in support of the benefits that the EPA provides.