Washington, DC-- Today, Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-06), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, stood with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck and Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry at the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund Site to announce that EPA has finalized its plan to clean up the site containing dangerously high levels of lead in the soil. Lead is a toxic metal that can be especially dangerous to children's developmental health.
"EPA's progress in finalizing plans for the clean up of the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site is great news for public health, the community, and the environment," said Congressman Pallone. "Cleaning this site will be a positive force for the local economy, creating jobs and, once finished, yielding a safe public park and beach for all to enjoy. I commend EPA for their hard work on this site despite the potential for serious setbacks due to damage done by Hurricane Sandy."
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 lead contaminated site so the local community may once again access the waterfront area without worry of health hazards.
EPA estimates that the total cost of the cleanup plan will be $79 million, to remove contaminated material and replace it with clean material to once again make the beach and jetty areas accessible to the public.
In October 2012, EPA held a public meeting for comments on their proposed plan to clean up the site.
News of EPA's progress on the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site coincides with Congressman Pallone's announcement that he has reintroduced the Superfund Polluters Pay Act, a bill that reinstates the Superfund taxes and holds polluters responsible for cleaning up contaminated sites, not the taxpayers.
"Especially in times of fiscal restraint, the American taxpayer should not be paying for the mistakes of corporate polluters," said Pallone. "Reinstating the Superfund taxes would ensure that the EPA has the funds it needs to clean up these toxic sites,"
In 1995, despite opposition from Pallone and other Democrats, a Republican Congress allowed the Superfund taxes to expire. Before their 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.
The Superfund Polluter Pays Act of 2013 will replenish the Superfund Trust Fund by reinstituting the taxes oil and gas companies paid between 1980 and 1996. The legislation reinstates through FY 2019 a 9.7 cents a barrel tax on petroleum, a tax on 42 chemicals and a corporate environmental income tax of .12 percent on taxable income in excess of $2 million.
In the U.S., New Jersey is home to the highest number of Superfund sites, which by definition are uncontrolled or abandoned places where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people.