These days when people talk about the laws on the books being ignored by our President and Congress, the first thing that comes to mind is Immigration. I would say let’s start with the US Constitution, but that is a very long discussion for another day.
Although US immigration laws are being ignored, the laws I’m talking about which are being broken are as follows:
- The Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act) of 1948
- The Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965, solid (Subtitle D) and hazardous (Subtitle C) waste management activities
- The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972
- The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976
- The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), a 1980 law commonly known as Superfund
- The Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) of 1984
- Many, many more
One only has to look around any United States city to realize our immigration laws are being ignored. However, the laws which I am talking being ignored may not be that obvious to the general population. It seems the way our Federal (i.e. EPA) and State regulatory agencies get around the laws listed above is to call the law-breaking contaminated sites by a different name. An excellent example in North Carolina and most other states are the hundreds – if not thousands – of CERCLA (superfund) sites that are reclassified as “Inactive Industrial Sites” and allowed to sit for decades. Some of these sites have percent range Chlorinated Solvents in the soil and extremely high concentrations in groundwater and nothing gets done. If they are not listed with EPA and Superfund then they get no funds. Think of the jobs that could be created remediating these sites.
North Carolina created a Registered Site Manager (RSM) program in 1995 and the Registered Environmental Consultant (REC) program in 1997. The programs were created so that consultants could sign up and essentially do the job of the regulator as long as they are a licensed PE or PG and meet the other criteria. I was recently told by one of these site managers that a corrective action plan he submitted in the late 1990’s just made it up for review by the State Regulator. Not a bad turnaround time – 25 years!
We’ve all seen news reports where our government paid $300 million to find out how snails crawl or something equally as valuable (NOT!), so it should come as no surprise that they don’t have the slightest clue how to prioritize taxpayer money. They would rather hassle the energy companies using coal than clean up the aforementioned Superfund sites which are extremely contaminated. What do you think?
Brian E Chew Sr. P.G.
I agree. Your experience in North Carolina echoes my experience in Virginia. There were many well-known groundwater contamination sites in Charlottesville that we did ESA work at (an old coal gasification plant, an abandoned County landfill, and dozens of gas stations) just to have the City and State DEQ turn a blind eye. Colorado is just as bad. But let’s regulate CO2 as a pollutant!
I see remediation companies all over the USA closing the doors and there is no reason for it. With the amount of funds being collected for funding assessment\remediation projects there should be more than enough work to go around. Problem is the politicians get their hands on the money and it disappears. Also, it appears the RP’s are not held responsible for anything except that next check to someone campaign. Thanks for your comment.