As a toxicologist and a clean air advocate, I was pleased to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Superfund Research Program (SRP) last week.
SRP is a network of university grants supporting research to find solutions to the complex health and environmental issues associated with our nation's hazardous waste sites, known as Superfund sites.
One of SRP’s primary goals is to address public health concerns arising from the release of hazardous substances into the environment, substances that contribute to air pollution as well as land and water pollution. The research results help toxicologists like me and other professionals make informed policy, regulatory, and risk reduction decisions.
The SRP and Superfund Connection
SRP’s research is a coordinated effort with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund Program, established by Congress in 1980 after concerned citizens elevated the issue of numerous hazardous waste sites, abandoned warehouses, and landfills. The program involves cleaning up these sites, and if possible, restoring them to productive use in the community.
The process begins with site discovery or notification to EPA of possible releases of hazardous substances by various parties, including citizens, state agencies, and EPA staff. Once discovered, EPA enters the site into its computerized inventory of potential hazardous substance release sites, evaluates the information, and determines any associated risk.
Significance to Texas
The SRP has funded research finding solutions for clean-up of Superfund areas – solutions that have been used to remediate sites in Texas. For example, SRP helped fund work that eventually led the company Aquamost LLC to develop a device that treats groundwater contaminated with organic pollutants released from leaking underground storage tanks. The device has been deployed in hydraulic fracking areas in West Texas.
Additionally, research on Superfund pollutants completed in Texas is some of the most cited work in the peer-reviewed literature on environmental contaminants. Work from Dr. Steve Safe on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and related compounds has aided understanding of the environmental and mechanistic implications of pollutant exposures.
Current Superfund Sites in Texas
Texas, as it turns out, is home to 60 Superfund sites, some of which may be near your community. See the list below to find out if there is a site near you. In addition, you can download a PDF to find out more about the background of a particular site, current status, health considerations, and more.
10. Conroe Creosote
17. Falcon Refinery
18. French, Ltd.
32. MOTCO, Inc.
36. Old ESCO
40. Patrick Bayou
45. Sandy Beach Road
51. Sprague Road
52. Star Lake Canal
55. Stewco, Inc.
60. West County Road
To learn more about the history and successes of the Superfund Research Program over the past 25 years, check out the SRP website and 25th Anniversary commemorative report. Thanks to work from SRP, Texas is just a little bit cleaner of a place to live.