It is virtually impossible to describe a "typical" hazardous waste site, as they are extremely diverse. Many are municipal or industrial landfills. Others are manufacturing plants where operators improperly disposed of wastes. Some are large federal facilities dotted with contamination from various high-tech or military activities.
While many sites are now abandoned, some sites are partially closed down or still in active operation. Sites range dramatically in size, from quarter-acre metal plating shops to 250-sq mi mining areas. The wastes they contain vary widely, too. Chief constituents of wastes in solid, liquid, and sludge forms include heavy metal, a common by-product of electroplating operations, and solvents or degreasing agents.
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