Menendez, Lautenberg, Pascrell, EPA Officials Announce Cleanup Efforts At Garfield Superfund Site
August 8, 2012
NEWARK—Today, U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8) joined officials from the Environmental Protection Agency to announce cleanup efforts at the former E.C. Electroplating Inc. facility, a contaminated Superfund site in Garfield, NJ. The planned demolition of the facility, announced today, is the latest step to clean up the site, which has contaminated local groundwater with harmful pollutants.
“This is a great day for Garfield as we take another important step to clean up this neighborhood and rid it of toxic waste. Contaminated sites like this one in Garfield harm our families, our economy, and our environment,” said Senator Lautenberg, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics, and Environmental Health. “These cleanup efforts are making contaminated sites safe again, but until polluters, not taxpayers, pay to clean up after themselves, too many New Jersey families will be at risk.”
“This is truly welcome news for Garfield families who have lived with the fear of contamination for too long. I applaud the EPA for their plan to remove the source of the pollution and make environmental protection not just a bumper-sticker slogan, but a reality,” said Senator Menendez.
Congressman Pascrell said, “Cleaning up the Superfund site in Garfield is of the utmost importance. I am especially concerned that the plume from the E. C. Electroplating site may extend under the Passaic River into the City of Passaic. The residents of Garfield, Passaic and all across New Jersey cannot afford to wait. They are living with this contamination now, and we owe it to them find the funding to get these sites remediated as soon as possible.”
The Garfield Superfund site, which includes property extending west to the Passaic River, has released harmful pollutants into the local community’s groundwater. EPA inspections have found 13 residential properties with high levels of chromium, a toxic chemical linked to cancer and other dangerous health effects. The EPA will now begin to demolish structures at the E.C. Electroplating property, allowing for the removal of contaminated soil at the site. In addition, the EPA is conducting clean up efforts at the contaminated homes.
Superfund is the federal program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites. At the heart of the law is the commitment to ensure that the polluters and industries responsible for contamination, and not the general public, pay for the cleanup. However, the Superfund “polluter pays” fee expired in 1995, and the burden of funding the Superfund program shifted from polluters to taxpayers when the trust fund went bankrupt in 2003.
Senator Lautenberg has led the fight in Congress to require polluting industries to fund cleanup of contaminated sites. His “Polluter Pays Restoration Act”, co-sponsored by Senator Menendez, would reinstate the Superfund fee on oil and chemical companies as it existed prior to its expiration. Currently, taxpayers bear the financial burden of cleaning up sites where the parties responsible for the pollution cannot be found or no longer exist. Restoring this small fee on polluters will ease the burden on taxpayers, speed cleanup and revitalization of blighted properties, and create jobs. New Jersey contains 112 of the 1,304 Superfund sites across the country, the most of any state.
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