New Jersey Lawmakers Demand Funding for Superfund Site in Edison

Jun 15, 2004

Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Senators Jon S. Corzine (D-NJ), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restore funding to and complete clean up of the Chemical Insecticide Corporation (CIC) Superfund site in Edison. The New Jersey lawmakers' request follows recent reports that cleanup operations at the site have been delayed because of a lack of funding.

"We were recently informed that cleanup operations at the site are to be delayed due to a lack of funding," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Michael O. Leavitt. "EPA promised this community that enough funding would be available for soil remediation through 2005. We urge the EPA to live up to that promise and fully fund the remaining stages of the CIC cleanup."

"This is particularly disturbing considering the history of funding delays at this site and the potential public health impacts associated with it," the members continued. "Without continued funding from the Superfund program, the cleanup will be stalled, leaving contaminated soil openly exposed."

Between 1954 and 1970, CIC polluted the site with arsenic, pesticides, herbicides, and other hazardous substances. By the 1990's, yellow liquids were draining into local streams where children played, and astoundingly, rabbits in the area had actually turned green. EPA placed the CIC site on the National Priority List in August 1990, and completed an interim remedy in 1995. However, it took an aggressive community movement to secure funding from EPA for soil excavation, which began in July 2003. To date, approximately 50 percent of the contaminated soil has been removed, but chemical drums and contaminated lagoons remain at the site.

"The EPA needs to live up to its commitment to the people of  New Jersey and fully clean up the CIC site. Not doing so would be an unfortunate symptom of the broader failure of this Administration to adequately fund these cleanups nationwide," said Senator Corzine. "Protecting the health and safety of our communities requires that we remove the toxic contaminants that pervade these sites. Fundamental fairness requires that polluters bear their share of the responsibility for these cleanups."

"Unfortunately, a sort of bait and switch tactic has become all too common at Superfund sites.  EPA takes years to finally list a site on the NPL, then doles out cleanup funding so slowly that it takes three times longer than necessary to decontaminate a property," said Senator Lautenberg. "Ive visited the CIC site several times and seen for myself the exposed areas laced with arsenic, PCBs and other chemicals.  EPA has made a commitment to the people of Edison to clean up this site and the agency must keep its word.  More delays are unacceptable."

"I believe that we must continue to press the Bush Administration to reauthorize the superfund law, especially when we learn of situations like CIC where funding is delayed and public health may be at risk," said Pallone.  "I believe that this Administration does not take the threat posed by Superfund sites seriously. Families living near CIC and other Superfund sites should no longer have to endure the adverse health affects created by pollution at these sites simply because the Bush administration and the Republican leadership in Congress side with the corporate polluters and refuse to address the problem."

Last year, Pallone introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives reinstating a Superfund tax that would ensure polluters pay for all Superfund cleanups rather than taxpayers. Corzine and Lautenberg are cosponsors of a similar measure in the Senate. The Hazardous Substances Superfund Trust Fund tax, which required chemical corporations to pay a tax used by the federal government to clean up sites, like CIC, where either a responsible polluter could not be determined or had gone bankrupt, was allowed to expire in 1995 when a Republican controlled Congress refused to extend it.