Five reporters with the Ft. Lauderdale (Fla) SUN SENTINEL investigated the nation's trash haulers in 22 states in 1987 (see HWN #88 and #89), and reported last December that the waste industry is so aggressive and has grown so large that it often outstrips the ability of government to control it.
The SUN SENTINEL team wrote, "Officials concede they often are outflanked by the technical expertise the firms can muster, as well as the complexity of affixing blame for causing contamination."
"'These companies often understand the regulations better than the regulators,' said Steven W. Sisk, an EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] investigator.
John Baker, manager of environmental programs for Waste Management, the largest U.S. waste hauler, says, "In EPA, every two years I'm dealing with new people. The agencies are a little behind in the technical expertise," he said. Mr. Baker blamed low salaries for the turnover.
Richard Oakley, a vice president of Browning-Ferris Industries [BFI], the nation's second-largest hauler, says, "A lot of times when we go for meetings with them, technically we've got the upper hand."
Waste Management and BFI routinely claim that test results showing they've contaminated groundwater are simply "lab error," not evidence of pollution. "Regulators usually accept these claims without independent verification," the SUN SENTINEL reports.
[We'll mail you all 25 stories from the SUN SENTINEL for $12.00.]
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: investigations; fl; haulers; msw; regulations; wmi; epa; john baker; revolving door; bfi; groundwater; water; water pollution; studies; findings;