Superfund Cleanup Cost Could Be Cut $39 Billion

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The nation could save $39 billion in clean-up costs at Superfund sites and still protect human health and the environment, University of Tennessee researchers say in a book released Monday.

Dr. Milton Russell and Kimberly Davis, the co-authors, say it will take $115 billion to clean up non-federal Superfund sites under current strategies.

Russell, director of the Joint Institute for Energy and Environment and UT-Knoxville economics professor, said a third of the cost could be cut by containing contamination away from people, rather than removing it to restore an area to an unpolluted state.

“To get these savings would take a change in the prevailing policy which emphasizes digging up contamination and finding some way to destroy it,” Russell said.

“Research demonstrates that in most cases there are options that would make sure the contamination is contained or is otherwise no way a threat to human health or the environment.

“These options would cost a lot less money and could be implemented faster and more efficiently.”

The Russell-Davis book is based on a study of more than 700 decision documents issued by the Environmental Protection Agency from 1987 to 1994.

Davis, an engineer and research associate at UT’s Waste Management Research and Education Institute, said preliminary data from the study has been vital to U.S. Senate and House committee debates on the future of the Superfund program.

The book’s conclusions will be important to debates scheduled to continue this week, she said.

JIEE is a research consortium of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee Valley Authority and UT.

The study was funded by a consortium of companies and industry groups led by Lloyd’s of London, JIEE and UT.

Contact: Dr. Milton Russell, Kimberly Davis (423-974-3939)

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