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Photographing America’s Toxic Wastelands

David Hanson’s work from the 1980s shows industrial damage to the American landscape that may never heal.
Sharon Steel Corp. (Midvale Smelter), Midvale, Utah, 1986
Sharon Steel Corp. (Midvale Smelter), Midvale, Utah, 1986David Hanson

There are currently 40,000 EPA-monitored toxic waste sites that blot the landscape across the United States. Nearly 900 are regulated under its “Superfund” program, which aims to clean contaminated sites.

That’s the subject of a Waste Land, a new book that comes out September 25th. In the late 1980s, photographer David Hanson traveled to 67 of these Superfund sites to capture the deep scars they have placed on the landscape. The resulting exhibit showed some of the more dramatic examples.