Due to its industrial heritage, New Jersey has approximately 115 currently active Superfund sites and an additional 37 currently proposed sites on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List, which is more than any other state in the country. These contaminated locations—created due to hazardous waste being dumped, left out, or improperly managed—can pose a serious threat to the local community and must be addressed immediately.
In November, Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese (D-Bergen, Passaic) introduced a resolution, AR-197, aiming to ensure the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for negotiating settlements and overseeing the cleanup of these locations, utilizes New Jersey Superfund settlements exclusively to design or implement remedies specific to the Superfund site at issue.
“The EPA has a duty to ensure residents of all communities receive fair and equitable treatment in environmental decision-making,” said Assemblyman Calabrese. “Any funds from settlements for Superfund site remediation in New Jersey – including the Lower Hackensack River, Lower Passaic River, Berry’s Creek, and the Lower Hudson River – should be used exclusively to clean up these sites and rivers and keep New Jersey’s residents safe.”
The resolution seeks to prevent the diversion of New Jersey settlement proceeds to sites outside New Jersey as well as to the general portion of the Superfund Trust Fund, which is used for program overhead costs. This can currently be done at the EPA’s unreviewable discretion. Further, the resolution would urge the federal government to follow New Jersey’s best practices for limiting settlement expenditures on agency administrative and oversight costs to a maximum of 10 percent of the total dollar value of the settlement.
This aims to ensure more money is spent cleaning up the numerous Superfund sites in Legislative District 36, including the Lower Hackensack River, Scientific Chemical Processing in Carlstadt, Universal Oil in East Rutherford, Ventron-Velsicol in Wood Ridge, and the Passaic River cleanup which passes through Wallington, East Rutherford, Rutherford, Lyndhurst, North Arlington, and Passaic.
The resolution has been referred to the Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee.