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18 Ecology L.Q. 173 (1991)
Public Participation in the Superfund Cleanup Process

handle is hein.journals/eclawq18 and id is 183 raw text is: Public Participation in the Superfund
Cleanup Process
Ellison Folk*
Oroville, California, a small community of approximately 10,000
residents, is home to two Superfund sites created by wood treating com-
panies - Koppers and Louisiana Pacific. In the early 1980's contamina-
tion from pentachlorophenol - a wood preservative containing dioxins
- was discovered in wells near the Koppers and Louisiana Pacific treat-
ment facilities. Residents in the area had complained of symptoms such
as nausea, headaches, and stomach pains. Animals were born deformed,
and a cancer cluster was discovered. The state discovered contamination
at levels up to 500 times higher than those considered safe for drinking
water and warned residents not to drink the water, bathe babies, or eat
eggs or beef raised on locally irrigated land. In 1987 an explosion and
fire at a wood treating facility forced the evacuation of town residents
within a one-mile radius of the plant. The fire burned for days, and diox-
ins released in the explosion blanketed the surrounding area. With the
1987 explosion and fire, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
got involved with the site cleanup plans, and six years after the discovery
of the contamination, a cleanup plan was approved.'
There have been attempts to involve the Oroville community in the
process of choosing a cleanup plan. Local residents organized to fight for
the cleanup of the Oroville sites, and EPA has consulted with them spo-
radically. The relationship, however, has been a rocky one. The govern-
ment's actions have left citizens distrustful. During the fire, local officials
waited almost forty hours before evacuating residents.2 State officials
have given conflicting information, alternately telling residents that
Copyright © 1991 by ECOLOGY LAW QUARTERLY
* Environmental Fellow, Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, San Francisco, California; J.D.
1990, School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California at Berkeley; M.C.P. 1990, Univer-
sity of California at Berkeley; B.A. 1984, Princeton University.
1. These facts are taken largely from Toxics AND WASTE MANAGEMENT DIVISION,
man, Oroville Can't Be Fooled, EVERYONE'S BACKYARD, Spring 1988, at 1; Interview with
Pamela Cooper, Community Relations Supervisor, in El Cerrito, California (June 28, 1990)
[hereinafter Cooper Interview].
2. Newman, supra note 1, at 7.

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