WASHINGTON -- A 'superdrive' to persuade Congress to pass stronger Superfund clean-up legislation will begin Tuesday with a toxic waste-laden truck starting a cross-country trip from California to Washington, organizers said Monday.
Residents of Glen Avon, Calif., will load samples of dirt and water from their community threatened by the Stringfellow toxic waste dump onto the truck, dubbed the 'Stringfellow Special,' that will stop in 11 other states to collect toxic waste samples and petitions.
Three other 'superdrive' trucks will head for Washington next week: 'The Love Canal Limited' from Minneapolis; 'The Times Beach Express' from Missouri and the 'Jersey Express' from East Gray, Maine, all carrying toxic waste samples.
In all, the trucks will pick up samples in 37 states and petitions with more than 1 million signatures urging quicker and more thorough action by the Environmental Protection Agency that directs Superfund work. They are scheduled to arrive in Washington by Sept. 25.
Organizers said the drive is to focus public attention on the Sept. 30 expiration of the Superfund toxic waste clean-up program. Congress is expected to complete action on a new bill by early October.
'We're trying to do bring home a message when Congress is paying the greatest attention to program,' said Michael Podhorzer, director of the National Campaign Against Toxic Hazards, a coalition of more than 300 concerned groups.
'We're hoping the fund we will be substantially increased in money and we will get some kind of schedule on cleanups' as well as improved clean-up standards. 'Our experience has been very consistent. The EPA generally has not been aggressive on these sites.'
Podhorzer said the campaign is intended to 'basically witness the neglect and inaction that have marked the administration's implementation of the Superfund over the past five years.'
Under congressional consideration are a House bill that would $10.1 billion for cleanup and a Senate bill for $7.5 billion. Critics wants more money plus a mandatory work schedule and mandatory standards for protecting human health.
Podhorzer said so far the EPA has cleaned up only 10 sites out of the 812 it identified as qualifying for the Superfund. Eligible sites areexpected to reach 2,000 as the result of further evaluation, Podhorzer said, and other investigators says the figure may be 10,000.