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Washington D.C. – Lois Gibbs, the “Mother of Superfund” and a dozen community leaders from Superfund sites around the country will be in Washington D.C. on Wednesday to meet with legislators and with Albert Kelly, head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program.

Drawing from their personal experience of living in contaminated communities, leaders will discuss their concerns and priorities for the future of the Superfund program. We are encouraged by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s promise to improve the speed and efficiency of Superfund cleanups – as long as public participation and the priority of human health are not sacrificed along the way.

Community leaders are coming from Houston and Austin, Texas; northeastern Oklahoma; Columbia, Mississippi; Minden, West Virginia; Hoosick Falls and Love Canal, New York; and Asheville, North Carolina.

News Conference with Community Leaders

Day: Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018

Time: 10 a.m. ET

Where: Capitol Hill Lower Senate Park (between Constitution Avenue NW and D Street, NE, and 1st Street and Louisiana Ave.)

Meeting at EPA Headquarters,

Day: Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018

Time: 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: 12th Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, in Washington, D.C.

While in D.C., community leaders will meet with their representatives to discuss their priorities for the future of Superfund:

  • The federal law is clear that human health and environmental protection are a top priority for taking action at Superfund sites. Redevelopment potential or responsible party viability should not supersede human health concerns.
  • It is essential to keep the Superfund public participation program intact in order to maintain a democratic and transparent site cleanup process.
  • We must reinstate the Polluters Pay fee to provide the necessary funds to clean up orphan sites and to ensure a robust enforcement and research capacity. This tax has the potential to save countless lives and prevent future contamination of communities around the country. It gives corporations a financial incentive to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and the generation of hazardous waste.

Some of the community leaders who are participating in the press conference Wednesday include:

Lee Ann Smith, POWER Action Group, Arden, NC:

Upon learning my 11-year-old son had contracted a rare form of cancer, I found out about a plume of chemical toxins in our Asheville, NC neighborhood. Along with several others, I established a community action group and have been working relentlessly for a comprehensive cleanup that will finally begin this spring. Soon every family in the area will be able to enjoy the basic human necessities of clean water and clean air.”

Andrew Dobbs, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Austin, TX:

Texas has been a sacrifice zone for polluting industries for far too long, and everywhere we go in the state Texans are fed up and demanding action from their members of Congress—Republican and Democrat alike. We will be delivering these thousands of original, often handwritten messages to members’ offices when we travel to Washington to meet with EPA officials and our colleagues from around the country.”

Marilyn Welker, People for Safe Water, Tremont City, OH:

Our community has been told to ‘Take it or leave it,’ referring to the Record of Decision and our efforts for more than five years to amend it for a more protective remedy of a highly toxic barrel fill site. We have accepted that remedy, knowing that the site must be cleaned up. BUT, we also are depending on a democratic, transparent site cleanup process. Such a process will be essential to build the community’s trust that EPA is protecting our health and our sole source aquifer.”

Rosanne Barone, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Houston, TX.

The pollution Houston residents face is bad enough, without floodwaters carrying toxic waste from Superfund sites through communities and into waterways. But unfortunately during Hurricane Harvey that did occur, and EPA must prioritize cleanups of sites in floodplains to prevent public exposure to toxic chemicals when the next flood occurs.”

Jacquelyn Elizabeth Young, Texas Health and Environment Alliance and San Jacinto River Coalition, TX

“The EPA is the only chance we have at getting sites like the San Jacinto River Waste Pits cleaned up and transparency is essential to the public’s confidence in the Superfund process. Public health is at the core of the EPA’s mission and I encourage them to take a proactive approach to fulfilling this duty.”

Contact: If you would like to interview any of the press conference participants, please contact Kathy Mulady, (206) 992-8787 k.mulady@peoplesaction.org, or Lois Gibbs (703) 627-9483 Lgibbs@CHEJ.org

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice has been on the frontlines in the fight for environmental health for 40 years. We train and support local activists across the country and build local, state and national initiatives that win on issues from Superfund to climate change.

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About People’s Action Institute

Over five decades, People’s Action Institute and our affiliates have fought for reforms that recognize poor and working people’s dignity and make material and political improvements to millions of lives. Our victories include the Community Reinvestment Act, Superfund, the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act and the MAT Act.

We engage in issue campaigns, public education and training to advance a long-term agenda for racial, economic and gender justice. Our focus now is on deepening community organizing so we can build lasting power across the country. 

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