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The toxic waste shell game across the USA

Toxic waste

(NaturalNews) A recently published investigative report has found that, despite reams of U.S. mandates and rules regulating proper, healthy disposal of harmful toxins, the manner in which they are actually dealt with is little more than a noxious shell game.

According to the report by the Center for Investigative Reporting, which was produced in collaboration with the U.S. editorial offices of Britain's Guardian newspaper -- the publication that revealed NSA spying secrets turned over by whistleblower Edward Snowden - toxic waste can be shuttled all over the country where it is never really adequately dealt with or disposed of, oftentimes ending up right back where the shuttle journey began.

As reported by the Center:

Below some of the world's most expensive real estate, in the heart of Silicon Valley, pipes and pumps suck thousands of gallons of contaminated water every hour from vast underground toxic pools.

Giant industrial filters trap droplets of dangerous chemicals at the surface, all in the hope of making the water drinkable again and protecting the workers of tech giants such as Google Inc. and Symantec Corp. from toxic vapors.

But that costly journey to the surface is only the start of a toxic trail with no clear end.

Once it leaves Mountain View, Calif., the toxic waste gets shipped, treated and burned in places like Oklahoma and Arizona, discharging waste in small towns and on a Native American reservation, and in some cases creating even more harmful chemicals....

'It's a shell game'

Along the journey, the report said, numerous environmental violations take place at the various waste treatment plants. And byproducts that are created during treatment processes are then shuttled off to one plant after another, after another (see the animation graphic here). After moving all around the country, investigators found that some of the waste came right back where it started, in this case at a treatment facility just a couple miles away in Silicon Valley, the focus of the investigative report.

It's a toxic shell game, giving the appearance of actually addressing one environmental danger that is, in reality, merely offloaded somewhere else in the form of a new hazard or problem.

"There's really no such thing as throwing something away," Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Rusty Harris-Bishop told the investigative team at the Center. "You're always throwing it somewhere."

Supposedly, the agency pays very close attention to the more than 1,300 hazardous waste sites that belong to its historic Superfund program, which has cost U.S. taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars over the years and is slated to cost hundreds of billions more over the next three decades, the EPA says.

The key gap in the system: Once waste-transporting trucks dump their loads and head out, the agency considers the waste job handled. As such, the agency is essentially creating its own "legacy of unintended consequences," as it tries to handle environmental problems left by previous generations. And in the process, toxic waste that is contained is summarily transformed into a gaggle of out-of-control -- and potentially worse -- problems all around the nation.

One plant creates more waste than it treats

The scope of some of the toxic waste problems is immense. In the case of Silicon Valley, the Center reports that it would take 700 years of constant treatment to make the groundwater potable.

For the EPA, officials know the trail exists, but they say the agency has difficulty following it.

"It's not that we don't care about the material," said Carlos Pachon, who leads the EPA's green cleanup efforts. "We just don't have control over it."

Some of the Center's findings include that:

-- at every step in the treatment process is left behind a new batch of waste that then has to be transported somewhere else;

-- one plant in Wisconsin actually creates more waste than it processes;

-- treatment necessarily creates new hazards; and

-- clean-up efforts at Silicon Valley and other sites simply aren't working.

Read the full report here.





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