U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- As it presently stands, the federal Superfund
Program is too
friendly toward traditional cleanup technologies and tends to force
remediation efforts to take too long and to cost much more than is necessary,
proponents for Superfund reform recently testified in Congress.
"Innovative technologies are tomorrow's solutions to today's
problems, yet there are few incentives for them to be implemented due to
liability concerns," Lee McIntire, senior vice president for Bechtel
National, Inc., told the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee.
Representing the Hazardous Waste Advisory Committee of the American
Consulting Engineers Council, McIntire said the existing Superfund liability
clause forces parties originally responsible for the pollution to sue as many
parties as possible in order to share the cost of cleanup.
"The community of cleanup firms and the public may then be the
victims of the current law's liability scheme," he stated. Superfund's
strict, joint, and several liability standard, McIntire added, "means that
any party associated with a site can be held responsible for the full cost of
cleanup, regardless of that party's degree of contribution to site
contamination and regardless of whether they have done anything wrong."
In testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works
Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Control and Risk Assessment, Richard A.
Brown of Groundwater Technology, Inc., said that Superfund's predisposition
to "familiar" cleanup technologies may be costing millions of tax dollars and
delaying cleanup of a number of sites across the nation. Current Superfund
policy, Brown stated, has two principal drawbacks. "First, it favors older
technologies such as landfilling, incineration, and pumping and treating
groundwater," he said. "Second, its expectations of what needs to be or can
be accomplished are sometimes inflexible." As a result, he said, highly
effective cleanup technologies such as bioremediation, the use of naturally
occurring organisms to degrade contamination, are passed over.
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