Nonprofit Seeks Superfund Status for Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii has a problem with plastics that could grow to a crisis. And a nonprofit group wants the Environmental Protection Agency to take action.

The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the EPA to declare the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and its surrounding waters a Superfund site. That would trigger a lengthy process of cleanup with federal money.

Emily Jeffers is an attorney for the nonprofit. She says floating debris endangers marine life such as turtles and monk seals, who mistake these items for food. While a Superfund designation could increase funds to clean up the area, Jeffers stresses we also need to consider how these items ended up in our waters.

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The EPA is currently in the process of reviewing the petition. It’s not clear when the agency will make a decision on taking further action.

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(Molly Solomon / HPR News)