The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that: "The Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country." As of September 2007 there are 1,315 final and proposed sites on the National Priorities List (NPL), but thousands more wait for approval.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (which came to be lovingly called Superfund) was born in 1980, largely in response to Love Canal. Experts thought there were only a small number of eligible sites and that the $1.6 billion trust would be ample. But more sites qualified for Superfund status than anticipated, and each year many more sites are added to the list than cleared. As the NPL continues to grow, so does the frustration on the part of many who live near Superfund sites. Today the "super" fund is exhausted. The Polluter Pays tax sunsetted in 1995 and has not been renewed by Congress. Without money going into the coffer, the Superfund Trust Fund officially went broke in Fall 2003. This means that U.S. taxpayers' dollars are now being used instead of money from the companies that pollute and are responsible for the toxic mess.
Each day for a year, starting on September 1, 2007, Superfund365 visited one toxic site in the Superfund program. We began the journey in the New York City area and worked our way across the country, ending the year in Hawaii. Today the archive consists of 365 visualizations of some of the worst toxic sites in the U.S., roughly a quarter of the total number on the Superfund's NPL. We would have to run Superfund365 for about three and a half years to cover all the sites that are currently listed as NPL.