Posted from Congressman Holt’s newletter
Last week, I toured two toxic cleanup sites in Middlesex County that are being restored to health by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program which requires polluters to pay for the cleanup of sites they have contaminated.
A few years ago, these sites were toxic dumps, unsafe for anyone to live or work. One had hosted incinerators for photographic film and circuit boards; the other had been home to a chemical plant used in the production of oil field chemicals and anti-corrosive agents. In both areas, toxic chemicals had leached into the soil and groundwater. Without intervention, the sites would have been unsafe for human habitation for decades, even centuries.
Now they are on track to be fully restored for public use. That is a testament to the potential of the Superfund, and it is evidence of the remarkable work of the Environmental Protection Agency – an agency that is so often the target of political attacks precisely because it is so effective in standing up against polluters.
The Superfund law originally required highly polluting industries to also pay for the cleanup of “orphan sites” where no specific polluter could be identified. More recently, however, Republicans in Congress have blocked efforts to require polluters to pay into the Superfund “orphan” cleanup fund.
Partly as a result, the Superfund is dramatically underfunded, delaying efforts to clean up hundreds of toxic waste sites across New Jersey and the country. Even worse, taxpayers – rather than polluters – are now being forced to take on the burden of cleaning up these “orphan” toxic industrial sites. This is simply a wrongheaded and wasteful way to use our very limited tax dollars.
Member of Congress
Washington, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. Tuesday announced the Sayreville Landfill Superfund Site is free of toxic chemicals and that the site has now been removed from the Superfund list of the country’s most toxic waste sites. EPA’s Superfund program is responsible for the ongoing cleanup of numerous sites including the Imperial Oil and Raritan Bay Slag Superfund sites in New Jersey.
“This is a testament to the importance of the Superfund program and it’s a success for New Jerseyans who live in close proximity to this site,” said Pallone. “This site was harmful to the environment, but EPA’s commitment to cleaning up the site will make it possible for this land to be potentially put to use to the benefit of the taxpayers.”
Pallone has been a long-time advocate of fully funding the Superfund program and has raised concerns that the program lacks adequate funding because it is no longer funded by a tax on the chemical and petroleum industry. Because Congress has not reauthorized the polluter-pays taxes, the cleanup of Superfund sites is paid for out of the general treasury.
In April 2011, Pallone introduced H.R. 1634, the Superfund Polluter Pays Act, to restore polluter-pays provisions for cleaning up America’s most toxic and polluted sites. The bill mandates a cents per barrel tax on crude oil or refined oil products and dollars per ton on certain toxic chemicals The President’s FY 2012 budget, which calls for reauthorization of these taxes, estimates that they would raise about $2 billion per year and $20.8 billion over 10 years.
Over 30 drums were removed from the Sayreville Landfill Superfund site, a system to control stormwater and contain methane gas was installed and the site was capped. The work was done with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and overseen by EPA.