Working Paper

Basing Superfund Cleanups on Future Land Uses: Promising Remedy or Dubious Nostrum?

Oct 1, 1997 | Kris F. Wernstedt, Robert Hersh, Katherine N. Probst


Abstract: Supporters of the effort to link cleanups at hazardous waste sites to the sites' expected land uses claim that amending language in the federal Superfund statute to allow this may yield a number of benefits. These include rationalizing the cleanup process and decreasing cleanup costs, promoting economic development in the local communities that host Superfund sites, and helping such communities exercise more control over the cleanups. However, interviews with Superfund stakeholders and a detailed case study call into question these arguments. The current role of land use in cleanup, uncertainties about whether economic development is likely at the bulk of Superfund sites, the long-run viability of institutional controls, the willingness of communities to accept cleanups that leave contamination on-site, and the nature of public involvement all suggest-that the benefits of tying land use to remedy selection may not be so straightforward.