Weeeeee we are at it again kids! In the next five years the state plans to anywhere from 15-25 new sites to out already highest-in-the-country toxic-waste Federal Superfund National Priorities List. Mo toxic waste mo problems (and cash of course).
NJ has a rich history of polluting going back to to the late 19th and 20 centuries from its perfect location. Since we are right on the ocean factories decided hey, lets set up shop here and dump all our waste wherever the hell we want! So now that all these lovely little sites are popping up (enjoy) we need to clean ’em up. Thus comes the really powerful sounding Federal Superfund. Basically the Superfund is the street name for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 which was set up as a way to clean up hazardous sites with Federal aid (more fancy free reading here). The fund is only to be tapped when the chi inquina (Italian for polluter) can’t be found or the business is no longer in, well business.
Sounds good on paper right? Well there is a slight problem. Apparently the 1,200 some odd sites currently on the approved site list will tap out the piggy bank Uncle Sam has put towards the cleanup, NJ not helping that situation. We currently hold the unofficial name of Superfund Central having smacked the S-fund for $3 billion in 30 years. Including a $150 million dollar stimulus injection only 29 of 142 sites have been cleaned up to date.
In 1995 a tax known as the Polluter’s Pays Tax which knocked on chemical and oil company’s doors expired further reducing the funding the state has to use for this. Not only has the lack of the tax forced ye old taxpayer to pickup a bit of the slack it has hurt the EPA’s power to go after polluters in court for up to three-times as much as the cleanup cost.
Not only are we fighting for the Federal cash to cleanup Superfund sites, the state has potentially up to 20,000 more sites that don’t qualify but still need to be taken care of. Everything from old leaky oil tanks to more DuPont shenanigans (man they like dumping) in Carneys Point with groundwater cleanup.
It is really sad how greed and ignorance have tarnished our fine state. While it can be argued to some extent that people didn’t know that dumping the waste in some instances would be harmful in reality most knew and where to cheap to properly dispose of their industrial byproducts. Another unfortunate reality is that both state and federal governments just turned a blind eye on it back in the day. If they had been a squidge more proactive with stopping illegal dumping, especially in NJ, think of how many less “A Civil Action” type scenarios we would have going on and how many BILLIONS of dollars we could spend on finding a cheap renewable energy resource. Disgusting.
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