Polluters should pay for cleanup of superfund sites, not taxpayers, New Jersey Congressman says
Your mom and dad tell you to cleanup your room or not being able to go anywhere because your sibling did something wrong.
You have to pay for or get blamed for something that isn't your fault.
It's not fair right?
New Jersey U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone (D-6) doesn't think taxpayers footing the EPA cleanup bill for polluters at superfund sites is fair either, and he's doing something about it.
Nearly 50-percent of New Jersey residents live within a few miles of a superfund site, according to Pallone, and that when not taken care of can spill dangerous pollutants into the air and waterways.
It doesn't always get cleaned up by the EPA right away because polluters fight them on it, meaning you pay for the cleanup.
Congressman Pallone has introduced 'The Superfund Polluters Pay Act' to make polluters pay and not you, the taxpayer.
"The law does say that the responsible party, the corporation who caused the mess has to clean it up but the problem is many times they don't exist anymore, they've gone bankrupt or they refuse and you get this protracted legal action for years so that nothing actually gets cleaned up," Pallone tells Townsquare Media News. "So, the point of the Superfund (Polluters Pay Act), is that you get the oil and chemical industry to pay into a fund which can be used for those sites where there is no responsible party because they disappeared or to actually go and do the work and then you could go back later and recoup the funds as a result of these lawsuits that go on and on forever."
Pallone explains that polluters should be the ones to pay but one of the problems is, again, that they can't be found or refuse to pay.
"That's why it's important to have a source of funding in the interim for those situations, which is often the case," Pallone said.
There are a number of superfund sites located across the state of New Jersey alone including The Raritan Bay Slag site along the Raritan Bay in Old Bridge and Sayreville which Pallone says has a sea wall and jetty of lead-contaminated slag deposition from the former NL Industries, Inc. site., there's also The Imperial Oil site in Marlboro Township which has a plant and surrounding contaminated properties.
Pallone explains that between 1969 and 2007, the Imperial Oil Company operated a facility on site and other companies prior to them which included a chemical processing plant which contaminated soil and groundwater.
These sites and others like it would see an almost immediate impact with cleanup with more funding available for the EPA to do what they have to do.
"Most of these sites have what we call a remediation plan in place. These sites, and I think New Jersey has more superfund sites than many others, and we have 114. I think that for almost all of them, or maybe every one of them, there's a remediation plan in place but the reason it doesn't start or continue to completion is because they can't find the party that caused it or they're in analyst litigation and so it doesn't get cleaned up," Pallone said. "So you could immediately take this money that becomes available and start either cleaning up these sites if it hasn't started or begin accelerating the remediation."
The Superfund Polluters Pay Act, by putting in funds, would speed up the cleanup process so that you wouldn't have to pay for it but it would also help prevent you from having to use polluted water and breathe in harmful chemicals.
"Every one of these has the potential of damaging people everyday, it affects their drinking water, it affects the aquafer, it affects the air and all these things are the reason you do the remediation, so those will continue until this gets cleaned up and people will continue to be negatively impacted who live near it or are using water that might be impacted by it," Pallone said.
In information provided by Congressman Pallone's office, he said that 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."
New Jersey U.S. Senator Cory Booker will be introducing the companion bill in the Senate.