Su­per­storm Sandy:

EPA has not said whether it’s in­spected all 247 Su­per­fund sites.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Katie Zezima and Kevin Begos

EPA says the storm didn’t cause ma­jor prob­lems at the 247 Su­per­fund toxic waste sites in New York and New Jersey, but many tests have not been done.

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. — For more than a month, the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency has said that the re­cent su­per­storm didn’t cause sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems at any of the 247 Su­per­fund toxic waste sites it’s mon­i­tor­ing in New York and New Jersey.

But in many cases, no ac­tual tests of soil or water are be­ing con­ducted, just vis­ual in­spec­tions.

The EPA con­ducted a hand­ful of tests right af­ter the storm but couldn’t pro­vide de­tails or lo­ca­tions of any re­cent test­ing when asked last week. New Jersey of­fi­cials point out that fed­er­ally des­ig­nated Su­per­fund sites are the EPA’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The 1980 Su­per­fund law gave the EPA the power to or­der cleanups of aban­doned, spilled and il­le­gally dumped haz­ardous wastes that threaten hu­man health or the en­vi­ron­ment. The sites can in­volve long-term or short-term cleanups.

Jeff Tit­tel, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Sierra Club in New Jersey, said of­fi­cials haven’t done enough to en­sure there is no con­tam­i­na­tion from Su­per­fund sites. He’s wor­ried tox­ins could leach into ground­wa­ter and the ocean.

“It’s really se­ri­ous and I think the EPA and the state of New Jersey have not done due dili­gence to make sure th­ese sites have not cre­ated prob­lems,” Tit­tel said.

The EPA said last month that none of the Su­per­fund sites it mon­i­tors in New York or New Jersey sus­tained sig­nif­i­cant dam­age, but that it has done fol­low-up sam­pling at the Gowanus Canal site in Brook­lyn, the New­town Creek site on the bor­der of Queens and Brook­lyn, and the Rar­i­tan Bay Slag site, all of which flooded dur­ing the storm.

But last week, EPA spokes­woman Stacy Kika didn’t re­spond to ques­tions about whether any soil or water tests have been done at the other 243 Su­per­fund sites. The agency hasn’t said ex­actly how many of the sites flooded.

“Cur­rently, we do not be­lieve that any sites were im­pacted in ways that would pose a threat to nearby com­mu­ni­ties,” EPA said in a state­ment.

El­e­vated lev­els of lead, an­ti­mony, arsenic and cop­per have been found at the Rar­i­tan Bay Slag site, a Su­per­fund site since 2009. Blast fur­naces dumped lead at the site in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and lead slag was also used there to con­struct a sea­wall and jetty.

The EPA took four sam­ples from the site af­ter Sandy. One of the sam­ples tested above the recre­ational limit for lead.

MARk LENNIHAN / AP

The Gowanus Canal in the New York bor­ough of Brook­lyn was made a Su­per­fund site in 2010. Sandy flooded sev­eral toxic sites in New York and New Jersey.

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