I Just Learned About “Superfund Sites,” Which Is Basically The Thing Of Nightmares And Should Probably Concern Every Single One Of You

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While researching information for another post, I came across a term I’d never heard before: Superfund site. In essence, a Superfund site is a place that is severely contaminated by hazardous waste that’s been left out/open, has not been properly managed, and has then been given funds by the Environmental Protection Agency to clean it up.

A caution hazardous waste sign in front of a site

You can learn more about the history of the Superfund program here, if you feel so inclined.

Bob Riha Jr / Getty Images

Now, the terrifying thing is that, across the United States, THOUSANDS of these sites exist. And FYI, according to Time, New Jersey, California, and Pennsylvania have the most sites. 👀 Here’s a look at just a few of the most devastating sites across the entire country:

1.The Hanford Nuclear Site, a decommissioned nuclear production complex in Benton County, Washington that was involved with the Manhattan Project. It has been called the most toxic place in America and referred to as “America’s Chernobyl.”

radiation warning sign at the hanford nuclear siteradiation warning sign at the hanford nuclear site

Jeff T. Green / Getty Images

According to NBC News, “The tanks are leaking, and the vapors they emit contain toxic and radioactive chemicals known to cause cancer as well as brain and lung damage.” In 2016, 61 workers were exposed to these chemicals and toxins.

Two men in radioactive gearTwo men in radioactive gear

Corbis / Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Some nuclear experts have even gone so far as to call Hanford, which opened in 1943, “the most toxic place in America” and “an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen.”

Barrels with chemicals laying on the side of a hillBarrels with chemicals laying on the side of a hill

Corbis / Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

2.Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York, which is surrounded by popular communities including Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook, and is considered one of the most polluted bodies of water in the US. It was once the location of gas plants, paper mills, tanneries, and chemical plants that discharged waste into the canal.

A general view of the Gowanus Canal in the Red Hook area of BrooklynA general view of the Gowanus Canal in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn

Epics / Hulton Archive

According to Gothamist, “The canal’s sediment — its notorious ‘black mayonnaise’ — is a lethal mix of oil, coal, pesticides, rotting debris, raw sewage, chemicals, and heavy metals, which includes arsenic, benzene, chromium, mercury, and lead. The canal’s waters are tainted by millions of gallons of sewage every year, which, in the 1970s, led to it being contaminated with typhoid, cholera, and tuberculosis.”

people in a canoe in the canal, which has many chemical and oil spotspeople in a canoe in the canal, which has many chemical and oil spots

Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

“In more recent years, it has been diagnosed with gonorrhea. The canal’s coastline has been poisoned by a century of industrial use, including chemical factories and manufactured gas plants, which left behind coal tar plumes that have sunk 153 feet underground.”

A caution sign in the canalA caution sign in the canal

Epics / Hulton Archive

3.The Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman (MEW) Superfund Study Area, which is actually comprised of three Superfund sites, and is next door to Google’s Mountain View campuses in California.

google office buildinggoogle office building

Sopa Images / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In 2013, as Forbes reported, two of Google’s buildings suffered from toxic vapors that seeped up from the ground. The article explained, “The pollution is caused by trichloroethylene venting up through the soil.”

middlefield road signmiddlefield road sign

Smith Collection / Getty Images

“TCE, as it’s called, is a powerful solvent that was used in vast quantities by semiconductor manufacturers like Fairchild, Intel, and Raytheon in the early days of Silicon Valley.”

aerial view of googleaerial view of google

Medianews Group / MediaNews Group via Getty Images

4.The Wingate Road Municipal Incinerator Dump in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where the city operated a waste incineration facility from 1954-1978.

view of fort lauderdale downtownview of fort lauderdale downtown

Jodi Jacobson / Getty Images/iStockphoto

According to the Sun Sentinel, “The 61-acre property […] had been the site of a municipal incinerator and disposal operation run in such a sloppy manner that soil and water were contaminated with a witch’s brew of toxins.”

Lots of smoking chimneys in a dark environmentLots of smoking chimneys in a dark environment

Jacobh / Getty Images

“Neighborhood residents blamed the incinerator for cancers, birth defects, and other health problems.”

In the Hospital Sick Male Patient Sleeps on the BedIn the Hospital Sick Male Patient Sleeps on the Bed

Gorodenkoff / Getty Images/iStockphoto

5.The Washington County Lead District — Old Mines Site in Washington County, Missouri. It has soil, groundwater, surface water, and sediment contaminated with arsenic, barium, cadmium, and lead from historical mining practices, which many residences in the area seem to be unaware of.

view of mountain rocksview of mountain rocks

According to the EPA, “As development in the area progressed over the last 200 years, residents of the area have constructed homes and developments on mine waste. Many people have used mine waste as an inexpensive option for use in gravel driveways or even sandboxes for children.”

Mine waste on the groundMine waste on the ground

Georgeclerk / Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Unfortunately, many people moving into the area are not familiar with the mining history of the area or the health risks associated with exposure to mine waste containing lead, arsenic, and cadmium.”

Mine waste coming out of a drainage pipeMine waste coming out of a drainage pipe

Roman Novitskii / Getty Images/iStockphoto

6.The Wolff-Alport Chemical Company site located in Ridgewood, Queens, New York, which borders Bushwick, Brooklyn, and is considered the most radioactive place in New York City.

aerial view of elevated subway in queensaerial view of elevated subway in queens

Alex Potemkin / Getty Images/iStockphoto

According to the New Yorker, “For decades, Wolff-Alport processed rare-earth metals and dumped the waste product, radioactive thorium, down the sewer.”

caution sign over watercaution sign over water

Ucg / UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

“Later, they sold their thorium to the Atomic Energy Commission, which stockpiled the material for use in nuclear weapons and reactors.”

A Ward II MapA Ward II Map

Smith Collection / Getty Images

7.The McCormick & Baxter Creosoting Co. site, a 29-acre former wood-preserving facility in Stockton, California where as much as 2 million gallons of creosote (a mixture of hundreds of chemicals) used to treat lumber soaked the shore and gummed up the river sediment.

stockton, ca signstockton, ca sign

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, “McCormick & Baxter filed for bankruptcy in 1989 after spending about 50 years treating lumber. It left behind a legacy of thick creosote, copper, chromium, zinc, arsenic, PCPs, and other contaminants.”

A warning sign letting people know it "contains coal tar creosote"A warning sign letting people know it "contains coal tar creosote"

Lucentius / Getty Images

8.The Lipari Landfill, an inactive landfill in Mantua Township, New Jersey that, between 1958 and 1971, accepted household waste, liquid and semi-solid chemical wastes, and other industrial materials. It was once considered “the nation’s most polluted tract,” which local residents called the “toxic bathtub.”

landfill sitelandfill site

St. Louis Post-dispatch / TNS via Getty Images

According to Asbury Park Press, “During 13 years of operation, some 3 million gallons of liquid chemical/industrial wastes and 12,000 cubic yards of solid chemical/industrial wastes were dumped at Lipari.”

Hazardous waste signHazardous waste sign

Vchal / Getty Images/iStockphoto

“And at least one explosion and two fires were reported at the site.”

a shot of Garbage pile burning causing air pollutiona shot of Garbage pile burning causing air pollution

Uma Shankar Sharma / Getty Images

9.The Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals Corp. Site located 70 miles south of St. Louis, Missouri where a former mining region known as the “Old Lead Belt” used to be.

rural missourirural missouri

Wesley Spindola / Getty Images/iStockphoto

According to the EPA, “The site became contaminated with lead, cadmium, and zinc from lead mining activities, including smelting, milling, and roasting.”

An old work siteAn old work site

Eifel Kreutz / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Also, “The Missouri Department of Conservation has detected elevated lead levels in fish downstream of the mining area above World Health Organization standards. The state of Missouri advises people not to eat fish they catch from the Big River downstream of this area.”

A fisherman on his boatA fisherman on his boat

Kansas City Star / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

10.Finally, the Lansdowne Radiation Site in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania where Dr. Dicran Hadjy Kabakjian and his family refined radium in the basement of their home to supply doctors and hospitals with radium-tipped needles for cancer treatment during the 1920s.

Two hands working a machineTwo hands working a machine

Carsten / Getty Images

The ‘hot house’ came to light in 1962 during a search for forgotten radium sites. In 1964, authorities spent $200,000 to decontaminate it.

A restricted aria radioactive hazard signA restricted aria radioactive hazard sign

Stock Depot / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The radiation eventually killed the entire family — either through cancer, or in Dicran’s case, emphysema that was likely caused by the fumes. When Dican’s body was exhumed for study in 1965, his skeleton registered the highest levels of radiation ever recorded in the human body.

Biohazard containerBiohazard container

Nattapon Malee / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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