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Letter to the editor: Superfund sites worsened by increased flooding
Letter to the Editor generic

Editor,

It was encouraging to read about a planned documentary on Glynn County’s Superfund sites. These sites, contaminated with dangerously toxic industrial wastes, are a shameful blight on Glynn County’s environment and a looming threat to public health, against which residents deserve far more accountable protection.

Making these Superfund sites even more troublesome are the accelerating effects of rising sea-level, according to a study entitled, “A Toxic Relationship: Extreme Coastal Flooding and Superfund Sites,” released in 2020 by the Union of Concerned Scientists [UCS]. Similar warnings have been issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Researchers cited concluded that Superfund sites are vulnerable to climate- change threats – after evaluating sea-level rise, hurricanes, inland flooding and other factors – finding that at least sixty-percent of Superfund sites across the county are threatened.

“As sea levels continue to rise, the flooding of Superfund sites is particularly worrisome,” according to the UCS report.

The study described disturbing impacts when Superfund sites are flooded. “Flooding can increase the chances that dangerous chemicals can be released and contaminate nearby land and water, putting communities at [greater] risk of adverse health effects. Especially hard-hit could be more than 17 million people of color and low-income who live within five miles of a Superfund site facing flooding risk,” reported UCS.

The proposed Superfund documentary should underscore these added dangers imposed by escalating flood hazards linked to climate change.

Moreover, underlying all these problems is the critical need for mandatory, rigorous evaluation of development proposals to prevent such disastrous consequences. 

David Kyler, Center for a Sustainable Coast Saint Simons Island, Georgia

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