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Pallone, Pascrell, Booker Legislation to Force Polluters to Pay for Superfund Cleanup, Not Taxpayers

November 14, 2019
Press Release
Roughly 50 percent of New Jersey’s population lives within three miles of a Superfund site

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) announced the reintroduction of 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 make sure polluters pay for the cleanup of Superfund sites – not taxpayers. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey will introduce the companion bill in the Senate.

Roughly 50 percent of New Jersey’s population lives within three miles of a Superfund site. Superfund sites are areas contaminated with toxic substances that can make their way into the air, drinking water wells, creeks and rivers, backyards, playgrounds and streets. Communities impacted by these sites can face restrictions on water and land use and recreational activities as well as economic losses as property values decline due to proximity to contaminated sites. 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.

“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 environmental degradation. As the Trump Administration continues to reverse safeguards that protect Americans from dangerous pollution and waste, this legislation is more important than ever. Congress must step up and pass legislation that protects hardworking families from having to pay for the misdeeds of corporate polluters.”

"New Jersey residents have been contending with contaminated superfund sites for too long. That our citizens continue to shoulder the health and financial burdens of living near contaminated sites because Congress cannot get its act together to properly fund the Superfund cleanup program is unacceptable. Polluters, not the public, should be held responsible for these cleanup efforts,” Congressman Pascrell said. “I am proud to support Chairman Pallone and Senator Booker’s legislation to make sure taxpayers don't have to pick up the check for polluters.”

“Superfund sites don’t just contaminate the ground and water—the high levels of carcinogens that seep out have led to heightened risks of cancer, birth defects, and other serious health problems for far too many Americans,” Senator Booker said. “As Chairman Pallone and I know all too well, the stakes could not be higher for New Jerseyans—half of our state lives within three miles of one of these Superfund sites. Too often, these effects fall disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color. It’s time to address this injustice, clean up these sites, and hold polluting industries accountable.”

In 1995, despite opposition from Pallone and other Democrats, a Republican Congress allowed the Superfund taxes to expire. Before its expiration, the collected taxes were placed into a Superfund Trust Fund that was used for the cleanup 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 taxes on polluters and make adjustments for inflation.  

Pallone has been a longtime champion for cleanup of Superfund polluting sites in New Jersey. 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 had 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.

Several Superfund sites are at varying stages of cleanup or monitoring in Pallone’s Congressional District in Monmouth and Middlesex Counties, including:

  • 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.