Pallone Announces Legislation to Make Polluters Pay for Superfund Cleanup, Not Taxpayers

Mar 15, 2017

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) re-introduced legislation to help the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clean up sites listed on the Superfund’s National Priorities List.  The Superfund Polluter Pays Act would reinstate the Superfund tax to ensure polluters, not taxpayers, pay for the cleanup of Superfund sites.

“The American taxpayer should not be paying for the mistakes of corporate polluters," said Congressman Pallone.  “Superfund sites threaten public and environmental health in New Jersey and across the country, and those sites could be cleaned up faster with adequate funding.  The Superfund Polluter Pays Act will replenish the necessary funds by holding corporations accountable for their mistakes and environmental degradation.”

“With media reports showing that the Trump Administration is considering massive cuts to the EPA, this legislation is more important than ever.  President Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt want to roll back environmental regulations that will benefit powerful corporations.  It is essential that Congress step in and pass legislation that protects working families from having to pay for the misdeeds of corporate polluters.”

Roughly 50 percent of New Jersey’s population lives within 3 miles of a Superfund site – the largest percentage of any state in the country.  Superfund sites are contaminated with toxic substances that can make their way into drinking water wells, creeks and rivers, backyards, playgrounds and streets.  Communities impacted by these sites can face restrictions on water use and recreational activities as well as economic losses as property values decline due to contaminated land.  In the worst cases, residents of these communities face health problems such as cardiac impacts, infertility, low birth weight, birth defects, leukemia, and respiratory difficulties.

In 1995, despite opposition from Pallone and other Democrats, a Republican Congress allowed the Superfund tax to expire.  Before its expiration, the collected taxes were placed into a Superfund Trust Fund that was used for the clean-up of so-called "orphaned sites," where the party responsible for the pollution either no longer existed or could not afford the cost of the cleanup.  Without those revenues, Superfund cleanups have been delayed, the backlog of sites needing cleanup has grown, and the costs have shifted to the taxpayers. Pallone’s legislation would reinstate the superfund tax on polluters.

In October 2016, Pallone announced $7 million in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency to begin the cleanup at Margaret’s Creek, part of the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site in Old Bridge.  The area has elevated levels of lead contamination, as well as areas of slag, a byproduct of metal smelting, and battery casings.  As a result of urging by Pallone, the Raritan Bay Slag site was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 2009.  Pallone has long prioritized the cleanup of this contaminated site so the local community may once again access the waterfront area without worry of health hazards.

Last year, Congressman Pallone questioned EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy about cuts to programs responsible for monitoring coastal water health and Superfund site cleanup.  Pallone emphasized that a clean environment is essential to public health and to a strong economy.

There are several Superfund sites in need of cleanup or monitoring within Pallone’s Congressional District in Monmouth and Middlesex Counties.  Examples follow.

  • Horseshoe Road site in Sayreville is the former location of a chemical processing facility.  Its operations contaminated soil and groundwater, as well as the adjacent Raritan River.
  • The Chemical Insecticide Corp. site in Edison Township is the former location of the corporation’s industrial facility.  Its operations contaminated the area and caused migration of contaminants off site.
  • The Imperial Oil site in Marlboro Township includes a plant and surrounding contaminated properties.  From 1969 to 2007, Imperial Oil Company operated a facility on site, and previously, other companies operated the site, including a chemical processing plant.  These operations contaminated soil and groundwater.
  • The Cornell-Dubilier Electronics site is located in South Plainfield.  Due to smelter operations and the construction of structures using these wastes, extensive areas of soil, sand and sediment are contaminated by lead.