As a first world nation, the United States creates unfathomable toxic and hazardous wastes from its many manufacturing, chemical and industrial processes. For decades, Dow Chemical dumped toxic wastes into the Great Lakes. Paper firms like Kimberly-Clark injected dioxins into rivers that killed and disfigured wildlife and marine life. Billions of animals suffered cancers unseen by the public. Mining companies dumped incredibly abrasive hazardous wastes into our environment.
For example, the U.S. Government dumped 48,000 barrels of radioactive waste 20 miles off San Francisco back in the 1940s. Since then, divers discovered that all those barrels corroded and leaked their contents in the Pacific Ocean. Today, consumers suffer warnings not to eat more than one serving of tuna or salmon per month because of tissue poisoning in those fish.
America stands neck deep in Super-Fund clean-up sites that continue poisoning our environment 50 years later. The Mississippi River works like a watery conveyor belt that delivers billions of chemicalized gallons of water into the Gulf of Mexico 24/7, year in and year out. Result: a 10,000 square mile dead zone grows at the mouth of the river in New Orleans whereby most marine vertebrates and other advanced species cannot exist in the poisonous waters.
Little known to most Americans, thousands of gas stations’ storage tanks leaked into ground water for decades. Millions of Americans dumped their oil into the ground or into water along with paints and a hundred other chemicals.
“The Twin Crises: Immigration and Hazardous Waste Removal Infrastructure” by www.thesocialcontract.com, Volume XIX, No.2, pages 29-32, Winter 2009, by Edwin S. Rubenstein—addresses hazardous waste removal infrastructure.
“The term “hazardous waste” refers to substances that have the potential to increase deaths or serious illnesses, or to pose a hazard to human health when improperly stored, transported or otherwise disposed of,” Rubenstein said. “Most hazardous wastes are the unwanted by-products of industrial processes.”
The U.S. enacted The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act in 1980. (Superfund) The law attempted to address the Love Canal and Times Beach fiascos of the 1970s.
“Meanwhile, the number of contaminated sites on the National Priorities List has increased to 1,500,” Rubenstein said. “An additional 20,000 sites need to be cleaned up but are not on the NPL because they fall under the assessment of other federal cleanup programs.”
Another 600,000 Superfund sites do not merit attention because of low grade levels of contamination, yet they exist.
To give you an idea, manufacturing in the U.S. generated 38.3 million tons of hazardous waste in 2005. The number of businesses and industrial facilities that generated more than 1.1 tons of hazardous waste in 2005 reached 16,191.