Brian Zumhagen has been a weekend anchor at WNYC since 2003. His career in journalism started in 1993, with an internship in the press office of the German Green Party’s parliamentary delegation. Brian went on to spend the rest of the ‘90s working as a reporter, producer, and fill-in anchor at NPR member station KQED in San Francisco. He’s returned to Germany several times over the years for reporting projects. Most recently, he won a grant from the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship to produce radio features for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Before coming to WNYC, Brian was a frequent contributor to PRI’s The World. He reported for the program on 9/11 and served as the show’s United Nations correspondent during the run-up to the Iraq war. Brian lives in Queens with his wife and children.
Top Court Rules State Can Compel Polluters to Restore Superfund Sites
Friday, December 16, 2011
New York's top court says the state can require major polluters to restore Superfund sites to the condition they were in before they were contaminated.
In a 5-2 ruling Thursday, the Court of Appeals found that the state Department of Environmental Conservation can mandate what's known as a "complete cleanup" of industrial waste.
In a statement, the DEC said officials are "pleased the Court of Appeals recognized the importance of DEC's authority to require polluters to reach complete cleanup requirements at state Superfund sites. This is a substantial victory for the state’s citizens, land and water," the statement continued.
Environmental groups are also calling the ruling a big win. "The court upheld the authority of the state officials to push, and gave them the flexibility to push, for the highest levels of cleanup that they think they can achieve," says Attorney Mark Izeman from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The judges said the higher standard is consistent with the state's Superfund law from the 1970s. That statute is separate from the federal Superfund program that's currently overseeing cleanups of the Gowanus Canal and the Newtown Creek in New York City, though federal EPA officials are required to consider the state's regulations.
A group of corporations calling itself the New York Superfund Coalition filed suit against the state in 2007, advocating a lower standard that would have allowed less expensive cleanups that would have allowed polluters to leave some contaminants at certain sites. The corporations argued that state regulations required companies only to do the "best job that is feasible." The difference in those two directives can cost companies hundreds of millions of dollars.