High Country News: Farming’s toxic legacy.

Nothing about the quiet summer morning suggests a reason to worry. Two-year-old Kian plays happily in the dirt of the empty lot where his family’s new house will eventually stand. Nearby, his mother, Tara Compton, points out interesting “buggies,” and when he toddles down the steep hillside, she holds his hand. Dust rises from the soil as though from a phantom stampede, and dirt covers the little boy’s hands and face. “This is where I plan to grow our garden,” says Compton, pointing to a wide plot of earth near a peach tree that yields delicious fruit. She’s pregnant, but with her tall, strong build, it hardly shows.. More . . .

Greenwire: At midlife of Superfund, unending cleanups and less ‘real money.’

In the current era of high-priced bailouts and even higher deficits, the nickname for U.S. EPA’s signature toxic-waste cleanup program sounds quaint: “Superfund.”

But the planned $1.6 billion fund, at the time of its creation, 30 years ago this week, was huge enough to be “super.”

“In those days, that was real money,” recalled Thomas Jorling, EPA’s waste chief during the genesis of the Superfund law. The money was aimed at unchecked and abandoned chemical waste sites that seemed to proliferate in the United States as the 1980s dawned, prompting widespread anxiety over risks to public health.

But its anachronistic label may be the only aspect of Superfund that has not evolved since its birth. The number of waste sites on EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL), reserved for areas with the most intense contamination, has tripled from its initial target of 400. More advanced cleanup technology is put into practice with each passing year, and the role of states as well as companies found responsible for pollution has grown as Superfund matures.  More . . .

Associated Press: NJ enacts toughest US rules on fertilizer.

New Jersey adopted the nation’s toughest restrictions on fertilizer Wednesday as part of a package of bills signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie to protect the fragile Barnegat Bay from further pollution.

Runoff from fertilizer applied to lawns and farms eventually makes its way into waterways and contributes to water pollution and fish-killing algae blooms.

The bills require upgrades to malfunctioning storm drains, force contractors to loosen soil that becomes hard-packed.  More . . .