National Geographic : 1985 Mar
Superfund site, and Congress has recently ordered EPA to narrow its one-ton-a -month exemption to 220 pounds. Some states are stricter, and some hold collection drives. Last summer, during Amnesty Days, the people of one Miami suburb alone turned in 12 tons of hazardous waste that would oth erwise have gone out with the garbage. HAD WE BEEN SO CAREFUL all along, we might not be so worried to day about groundwater pollution. The vast majority of us have safe drink ing water, but our supplies are not so well distributed that we can afford to add haz ardous waste to them, already burdened with highway de-icing salts, farm sprays and fertilizers, and seepage from gasoline and septic tanks. Many large cities-Tucson, Memphis, and Miami among them-rely entirely on groundwater. So do most rural Americans. They tap a resource more plentiful than all the water in the Great Lakes, and man-made pollution corrupts only one percent of it. "Unfortunately," says David Miller, a leading hydrogeologist, "that tiny bit is often fouled just where a lot of people need it." Toxic waste contaminates the groundwater supply drawn on by three million people on Long Island, New York, including Miller. In New Jersey, Atlantic City shifted its well fields to escape chemicals seeping from Price's Pit, a Superfund landfill a mile away.