It is impossible to describe the "typical" hazardous waste site because they are all so very different. Many are landfills. Others are manufacturing plants where operators improperly disposed of wastes. Some are large Federal facilities with different areas of contamination from various high-tech or military activities. The chief contributors of these wastes are involved in manufacturing.
While many hazardous waste sites have been abandoned, a site may still be in active operation, or it may be fully or partially closed down. Sites range in size from a 1/4-acre metal plating shop to a 250-square-mile mining area. The types of wastes they contain vary, too. Some wastes that are present in solid, liquid, and sludge forms include heavy metals, a common by-product of many electroplating operations, and solvents or degreasing agents.
Transportation spills, other industrial processes, or storage accidents account for some hazardous waste releases. The result can be fires, explosions, toxic vapors, and contamination of groundwater used for drinking.
What is found at Superfund sites?
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