FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         ENR
THURSDAY, JULY 3, 1997                             (202) 514-2008
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888


     Former Hazardous Waste Site Transformed into State Park

     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The last of the three toxic waste sites
that inspired the passage of the historic Superfund law in 1980
is now cleaned up, the Justice Department announced today.  The
estimated $200 million clean up of the former dioxin-laden dump
known as the Times Beach, Missouri Superfund Site near St. Louis,
which began in 1984, is now complete.

     The other two toxic waste sites featured in the debate that
lead to Superfund's creation are Love Canal in Niagra Falls, New
York, and the Valley of the Drums, located in Bullit County, in
western Kentucky.  

     "This is one more example of the success of the Superfund
program.  Thanks to Superfund, Times Beach and the 27 nearby
areas sprayed with dioxin-laden waste oil are clean and back in
use," said Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of
the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources
Division.  "Without the enforcement provisions of the Superfund
law, we would never have been able to make those responsible for
the awful contamination that occurred in and around Times Beach,
pay to clean it up."     

     In the early 1970s, a waste oil recycler was hired by local
towns, businesses, farmers and churches in the Times Beach area
to spray used oil on local roads to control dust.  Unknown to the
property owners, the oil recycler had mixed dioxin wastes from a
chemical plant into the oil, creating one of the most notorious
hazardous waste crises in the United States.  Now, the area has
been transformed into a 409 acre park to be named Route 66 State
Park, after the historic road that runs through it.

                    The Superfund Program

     The Superfund program, passed in 1980, has greatly improved
the environment and public health.  Final cleanup is now underway
or complete at 1,100 of the nation's worst toxic waste sites, and
construction is complete at 430 of these.  Of these large sites,
265 have been completed in the last four years--many more than
were cleaned up in the first 12 years of the program.  Also, EPA
has completed smaller actions at 3,000 sites.  In addition, the
deterrent effect of the Superfund law is working all over the
country to prevent the creation of new toxic waste sites because
companies are handling wastes more responsibly in order to avoid
further Superfund liability. 

     The dioxin at Times Beach came from a chemical plant in
Verona, Missouri that was originally owned by Hoffman-Taff Inc.,
a company that produced the defoliant Agent Orange.  Although
none of Hoffman-Taff's Agent Orange ever made it to Vietnam,
components of it that contained dioxin by-products were stored at
the plant in a 20 foot high tank, named the Black Tank for the
black insulating material that covered it.

     In 1969, Hoffman-Taff was acquired by Syntex Agribusiness
Inc. and a portion of the plant was leased to Northeastern
Pharmaceutical and Chemical Corporation (NEPACCO), which began
manufacturing hexachlorophene, a popular skin cleanser at the
time.  Dioxin produced from the manufacture of hexachlorophene
was stored in the same Black Tank in which Hoffman-Taff had
stored chemical components of Agent Orange.  One of NEPACCO's
suppliers, Independent Petrochemical Corporation (IPC), hired
Russell Bliss to dispose of the wastes in the Black Tank.  Bliss
disposed of the wastes by mixing them with used oil and spraying
them on roads, under the contracts with local towns and
businesses.  Later NEPACCO paid Bliss to dispose of additional
wastes from the Black Tank, which he also sprayed on roads in the
area.  Eventually, EPA and the Justice Department reached cleanup
settlements with Syntex, NEPACCO, IPC and IPC's parent companies,
to fund and carry out much of the clean up.

     The clean up at Love Canal, the notorious dioxin site that
is synonymous with Superfund, was completed about ten years ago,
and last year the United States obtained a $129 million
settlement with Occidental Chemical Corporation for EPA's cleanup
costs.  The Valley of the Drums Superfund site, which was
contaminated with more than 20,000 corroding drums filled with
waste oils and hazardous substances, was cleaned up about 5 years
ago.  The United States also reached settlements with responsible
parties to recover part of the government's cleanup costs at that