Congressional watchdog warns a majority of Superfund sites are vulnerable to climate change: report

Congressional watchdog warns a majority of Superfund sites are vulnerable to climate change: report
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More than half of Superfund sites are in areas vulnerable to flooding and other impacts of climate change, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued on Monday.

The report found that at least 60 percent of Superfund sites are vulnerable to climate change impacts. 

The findings were first reported The Associated Press ahead of the public release. 

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GAO investigators looked at 1,571 Superfund sites and found at least 945 of them are in areas that scientists have identified as at greater risk of floods, storm surge from major hurricanes, wildfires or sea-level rise of 3 feet, according to the AP. 

Researchers found that 783 of the sites were at a greater risk of flooding, 234 at high or very high risk from wildfires and 187 vulnerable to storm surge from any Category 4 or 5 hurricanes. 

The report is calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerEPA to resume contract negotiations with employee union Overnight Energy: Critics call EPA air guidance 'an industry dream' | New Energy secretary says Trump wants to boost coal | EPA looks to speed approval of disputed industry pollution permits Latest EPA guidance weakens air protections in favor of industry, critics say MORE to state that part of the agency’s mission involves dealing with the rising risks of seas, storms or wildfires breaching Superfund sites under climate change, according to AP. 

In a March interview with CBS, Wheeler said climate change is “an important change we have to be addressing and we are addressing,” but said it is not the most immediate environmental issue.

He said the threat of climate change is “50 to 75” years out, a claim that AP notes rejects scientists' conclusions that such impacts are already increasing the frequency and force of natural disasters. 

In response to the report, Assistant EPA Administrator Peter Wright wrote, “the Superfund program’s existing processes and resources adequately ensure that risks and any adverse effects of severe weather events, that may increase in intensity, duration, or frequency, are woven into risk assessment,” according to the AP. 

A spokesperson for the EPA did not immediately respond for comment when contacted by The Hill.