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Toxic Site Cleanup Funds Fall Short

Date : Tue, 11 Sep 2012 15:51:00 -0400

For Immediate Release
September 5, 2012 Contact:Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

Toxic Site Cleanup Funds Fall Short Today the Division of Law announced that New Jersey has gotten polluters to pay $29 million towards environmental cleanups.The administration has not collected money in previous years for clean ups so this figure is actually a combination of multiple years.They are putting it all together to make it look like they have done more when in reality enforcement has gone down and the program is being weakened.

"This is an administration whose policies take the side of polluters over proper cleans. They are about photo ops and press releases, not holding polluters accountable," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club*."Instead of making polluters pay, we are seeing more tax dollars going towards cleanups and the administration letting polluters off the hook for pennies on the dollar when we should be getting triple damages." In the settlement on the chromium cleanup at the PPG site New Jersey is getting pennies on the dollar. The federal government cleanup cost for the Honeywell site was over $400 million and we are only getting $15 million for all the chromium sites in Hudson County. There are literally hundreds of other sites they should be going after and instead they have let them off the hook and used taxpayer money instead like National Lead in Sayerville and Bendix in Teterboro. The Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation (HSDR) fund ran out this year because we are using tax payer money instead of going after polluters to fund toxic site cleanups.The Legislature passed S1246 (Vitale) to provide loans to the HSDR Fund for brownfield clean ups. This fund currently has $71 million backlog in projects and only about $13 million in the funds. The DEP has not developed a priority list of toxic sites to identify and cleanup those sites having the biggest impacts on local communities.Instead of mandating cleanups of the worst sites under the Spill Act, the DEP is allowing this sites to continue polluting communities.The Spill Act gives the DEP the ability to go in and cleanup the sites and bill the polluters. The DEP has handed control of toxic site cleanups over to private Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs) with weakened cleanup standards and virtually no oversight.LSRPs are private contractors who work for the polluters.The LSRPs write the cleanup plan, certify that the site has been cleaned and can give themselves waivers from the standards. They are cutting back on enforcement, allowing sites to sit there dirty for years without being cleaned up.Currently there are only two staffers to inspect the more than 8,000 sites that have been remediated and DEP do not now inspect sites that need to be cleaned.Without DEP inspections there is no enforcement on cleanup sites that are currently being remediated. Enforcement isnow calling people that violate environmental laws called customers.Instead of paying fines, violators can use alternate compliance methods such as planting trees or donating open space.They are taking the force out of enforcement.

"There are hundreds of millions of dollars the state is letting go uncollected, because tax payer money was used to cleanup sites instead of making the polluter pay.There are thousands of contaminated sites that the state has not required action on that continue to pollute the communities around them," said Jeff Tittel.

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-09-11 12:51:00

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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