THE NEW YORK TIMES, THURSDAY, JULY 29, 1982
E.P.A.'s Way to Save Hazardous Wastes
To the Editor:
Your July 19 editorial in support of the Environmental Protection Agency's recent regulations requiring liners on new hazardous waste dumps reminds one of Ernest Hemingway's observation on the practice of padding the horses at bullfights. The audience at the fight thinks the padding humanely protects the horses from being gored by the bull, but in reality it just protects the audience from seeing the horses' entrails.
Putting liners under dump sites does not stop the pollution, it merely delays it. This works to the benefit of the hazardous-waste generators, the dump operators and the politicians - all of whom will be gone in the 30 or 50 years it takes for the dump to start to leak. However, it works to the disadvantage of the community near the dump, which may have forgotten the lessons of Love Canal and built homes and schools nearby. They will pay with their money, their health, their lives.
The decision to permit hazardous waste dumps (euphemistically called landfills) is politically based and by E.P.A.'s own admission cannot be supported by scientific or engineering fact. No one knows how to build a hazardous-waste dump that works. The politicians, unwilling to face up to that fact, have as ususal put the problem off to future generations, who will have to pay a thousand times more than it would cost to do it right today.
Arlington, Va., July 22, 1982
Mrs. Gibbs, who founded the Love Canal Homeowners Association, is now president of the Citizen's Clearinghouse for Hazardous Wastes, Inc. Mr. Sanjour, technical adviser to the group, is head of E.P.A.'s hazardous-waste implementation branch.
William Sanjour's home page