Times Beach

Times Beach in the United States

Times Beach in Environmental Law

A town in Missouri, located thirty miles south west of St. Louis, that became one of the symbols of mismanagement of hazardous waste. In 1971, it was not uncommon to spray streets with oil to suppress dust. Unfortunately, at a number of sites throughout the country, the oil contained chemical residues. The oil used at Times Beach included dioxin, a toxic substance used in the production of Agent Orange and a number of pesticides. Thirty-three sites in Missouri were found to be contaminated with dioxin, one of the most dangerous chemicals known, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The contamination was not discovered until 1982, two years after the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act was passed. Unlike other contaminated hazardous waste sites, Times Beach did not go through the slow process created by the law to get the property characterized and remediated. Instead, in February 1983, the government spent $33 million dollars to buy the town and relocate the citizens. The money came from Superfund, a federal fund established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites and respond to imminent threats to health or the environment.

In 1988, the EPA determined what remedial action should be taken. Dioxin adheres to soil tightly, so it has not gotten into groundwater or been carried to surface water in harmful amounts. Contamination was found on roads, shoulders, and ditches.

Times Beach, where contamination was not as widespread as at many other sites, is being used as a collecting area for other dioxin wastes. The soil there is being incinerated and will remain on site. New soil is also being brought in. The state has placed restrictions on development in the area, but they may be unnecessary since Times Beach is subject to flooding and is not readily adaptable to building. However, flooding was rare when the houses and businesses were originally built in that town. Times Beach is unincorporated.
Based on “Environment and the Law. A Dictionary”.



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