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A citizens' primer on hazardous wastes, complete with advice on investigating local sources and assessing the feasibility of suits or petitions--with almost 200 pages of appended tables. (The EPA's listing of potential hazardous waste disposal sites accounts for more than half of this material. Other appendices include the Environmental Action/Sierra Club Hunt the Dump questionnaire; and lists of toxic chemicals with their effects, regions at risk, information sources on waste disposal technology, and relevant environmental organizations and congressional committees.) First, case histories of people affected by rural dumping, groundwater contamination, and waste-oil disposal tell the old story of corporate denial and inadequate official response (at Love Canal and elsewhere). In discussing current legislation and possible remedies, though, the authors go beyond deploring. Looking at widespread ""midnight dumping"" by organized crime and ""legitimate"" companies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they note a trend toward more sophisticated and less detectable sewering operations, inadequate state legislation and enforcement, and a lack of adequate legitimate disposal facilities. Similar problems doom national efforts: the authors find that the implications of the sweeping Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 and subsequent Superfund laws were little understood by those who passed them, and they conclude that the problem cannot be solved by waste disposal legislation alone. More vigilant enforcement is needed, but so are economic incentives for alternative means of disposal and recovery--and, for the future, both political and economic incentives (and disincentives) aimed at curbing production of hazardous material in the first place. The ""profound societal implications"" of this proposal are not considered here--but, as Of now, concerned citizens get a realistic assessment of what they're up against along with some practical guidance on how to proceed.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1982
Publisher: Sierra Club--dist. by Random House