Mr. Clean

Superfund ombudsman Robert Martin is either a white knight -- or an EPA whitewash.

And to clean up these historic messes, the EPA can use all the hands it can get. "One thing that people don't understand is that Superfund--EPA--can't clean up the world," says Kaufman. "There's just not enough money in the gross national product. What we can do is set up mechanisms to substantially reduce the threats to the public health and environment."

The EPA gets a lot of flak from critics who say the agency rushes through jobs to save money--a common charge regarding Shattuck--and to shrink the national cleanup list. "There has been that concern about trying to move things along bureaucratically," concedes Martin, "that true protection of human health and the environment is taking second place to speed. But there may be historical and institutional reasons for that."

When Congress created the Superfund nineteen years ago, the country was thought to harbor a few very nasty places that needed "immediate attention and lots of resources--your Love Canals," says Martin. "What we found out is that there are several thousand of those places." Superfund cleanups have stirred up more trouble, lasted longer and cost more than anyone foresaw in 1980.

So if he wants it, the ombudsman should have plenty of work for years to come. But Martin does have other interests.

"The first time I walked into his office," Kaufman recalls, "the first thing I noticed was a wall covered with pictures of the soccer teams he's coached. And that's when I knew--this is not a typical bureaucrat. 'I like this guy!' Because typically, you know, they have pictures of a man in a suit shaking another man in a suit's hand. When I walked into Bob's office, I thought, 'This is a human being.'"

Martin calls soccer his "release." He not only coaches from the sidelines; he's also the senior player on his hometown team.

Its name: the Unified Team.

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