The US hides Native American genocide under the innocent sounding title “Superfund.”
“Superfund” may sound like the next GoFundMe type of website, but the term actually describes the federal government’s intentionally failed attempts at cleaning up toxic pollutants in the United States. The EPA calls them Superfund sites. More like Super Polluted sites.
The EPA’s website describes Superfund as a positive and effective platform from which to respond to the environmental and human crisis. Trouble is, Native American people and lands have been neglected for years, and the consequences are tantamount to genocide.
Toxic waste sites called Superfund sites number above 1,300, and 25% of these sites are on Native American land. That’s right – the Environmental Protection Agency has deemed more than 1,300 sites on US soil to be so polluted that an entire department is needed to address their cleanup. This department has failed.
The US government formally recognized the problem of these toxic waste sites in our country in 1980, when the Superfund law was passed with the official name of Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Since 1980, Native American lands have been on the EPA’s back burner.
What makes these Superfund sites so polluted? The answer depends on where you go and who you ask. From New York to Washington, the EPA has left a trail of toxins.
Health effects of Superfund sites are real and extremely dangerous. One example is PCB contamination. According to a report, “The bodies of young Akwesasne Mohawk adults [a New York area tribe] contain twice the levels of PCBs as the national average, compared to those studied by the CDC. Researchers have already established that PCBs have altered thyroid gland function in the Akwesasne community. Prior studies found lower testosterone levels and established links to autoimmune disorders.”
Lawrence Schell, a professor at the State University of New York says of PCB’s, “Endocrine disruption seems to be the effect which is most far reaching because other effects on the reproductive system may be well tied into that.”
What’s the bottom line for Native Americans? PCB exposure has a high potential to cause reproductive dysfunction. If Natives can’t have healthy children, their communities will become extinct. The EPA has a responsibility to finish the job they started, and ensure Native communities are safe, just like all American communities.
In Washington, the culprit is a uranium mine, known to cause radiation. In New Mexico, an abandoned uranium mine is believed to cause lung cancer. As far as Alaska, Superfund sites have been a source of ill health for over 30 years.
Taking 30 years to only partially clean up this country is a terrible track record and a sign that our legal system needs a serious overhaul. Most of the laws regulating environmental protection are outdated and not even based on up-to-date science.
If you supported the fight against the DAPL pipeline, you should also be supporting major top-down changes in the EPA.