More than 875 toxic waste cleanup sites are at risk of flooding from even a low level of sea level rise in the next 20 years, according to a new report.
If moderate levels of sea level rise occur, the Union of Concerned Scientists found, the number of at-risk sites would jump to 918. Climate change is a significant driver of sea level rise, and a 2019 report from the Government Accountability Office found climate change (including hurricanes and other impacts in addition to sea level rise) could cause nearly 60% of Superfund sites to spread toxic contaminants to nearby communities.
Such contamination would disproportionately harm communities of color who are more likely to be located near toxic waste sites due to decades of racist housing and land-use policy. Just two weeks before Hurricane Harvey caused historic flooding that hit the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund site, the Trump administration revoked an Obama-era directive aimed at understanding how climate change could cause massive flooding.