In the Northwest, climate change will bring decreasing snowpack, heat waves, and ocean acidification. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today unveiled its plan, as directed by the administration.
In its plan, the EPA covers all the typical bases when it comes to climate change. But there’s an important effect of climate change the plan outlines that you may not have thought about: Climate change could cause highly contaminated sites to more easily release pollution into the environment. These areas are known as superfund and brownfield sites.
Cami Grandinetti, the agency’s Northwest remedial cleanup program manager, said those toxic sites near rivers or marine waters may be most at risk. That’s because of extreme storms and higher water levels.
“Where we thought the water might not reach it before, now we’re thinking maybe the water will reach it. So you move it farther away, or you find ways to stabilize it more completely,” Grandinetti said.
The Northwest portion of the plan says climate change could also affect nuclear waste disposal at Hanford and Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls.
As a part of the administration’s climate action plan, President Barack Obama also appointed Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to a climate change task force.
The EPA’s draft plan is open for public comment through Jan. 3, 2014.
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