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When Superfund was established in 1980, it was heralded as a breakthrough in attempts to clean up the environment. Thirteen years later, the law has become part of the problem, not the answer. Few sites have actually been remediated.

In Arkansas, for example, EPA has designated 13 sites as top priorities for cleanup activities. Only one site -- the Cecil Lindsey landfill located in Newport -- has been cleaned up enough to be taken off the state's priority list.

Despite its problems, Superfund is scheduled for reauthorization next year. The volume and diversity of new ideas for this ailing act will proliferate as Congress attempts to cure what could be an effective mechanism to balance the needs of industry, the general public and government.

More money is the answer heard from many fronts. More money, more investigations, more analyses, and probably, as a result, less action. If more money were replaced by more cooperation by all parties, many regulatory problems would disappear; faster and more effective cleanups would result.

The following are some areas in which more cooperation should exist:

* Regulations (and thus regulators) need to recognize that even with highly sophisticated tools, fully defining and removing all contamination is unlikely and perhaps impossible for some sites. More innovative shortcuts for investigations and remediation, or cleanups, need to be developed and accepted by the regulators.

* Innovative cleanup solutions must be rewarded and encouraged. Providing incentives, for even partial success with new technologies, will increase the flow of new, cost-effective remedial solutions.

* Responsible parties and environmental firms must be given incentives to complete investigations sooner and with more accuracy, rather than incentives for stringing out investigations.

* The public needs to be better educated as to how clean is "clean" so public panic no longer guides environmental decisions.

All interested parties must become more proactive and less reactive. If we all work side by side instead of head to head, cleanups will be completed faster and for less money, leading to a "win-win" situation for all sides.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas
Author:Quick, Ray A.
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Aug 16, 1993
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