GARFIELD - Four New Jersey lawmakers want to revive a tax to pay for cleaning up polluted sites.
Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez and Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. and Bill Pascrell spoke Monday at a former industrial site in Garfield.
The quartet has proposed legislation in the House and Senate to ensure polluting companies and not taxpayers foot the bill for cleaning up polluted sites.
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Garfield resident Sam Cajevic lives next to one of these sites, the former E.C. Electroplating plant on Clark Street. It's believed they were responsible for a massive chromium spill in the 1980s. Since then, the EPA has knocked down the building, cleaned up contaminated basements and replaced the soil, but much more needs to be done.
Cajevic says that he never goes in his backyard because he is afraid of the contamination.
"The only time I go in the backyard is just to clean up the leaves. I don't use it no more,” he says.
The EPA says that cleaning up the site by Cajevic’s home could cost about $40 million.
"I don't have $40 million hanging around on my desk and that's why this legislation that these members of Congress spoke about today … is so crucial,” says EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck.
New Jersey has more than 100 such Superfund sites, the most of any state in the nation.
The legislation would reinstate an excise tax on polluting companies that was allowed to expire in the mid-1990s.
The money would be put into a fund to pay for the cleanup of sites owned by companies that either were defunct or couldn't afford to pay.
If the EPA gets the funding, the agency would like to begin work on the contaminated water in 2018. Right now, there is only funding through 2017.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.