Lautenberg To Introduce Bill To Use Federal Funding To Contain Pollution After Natural Disasters

Sen. Frank Lautenberg

WASHINGTON, D.C.—At today’s Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing on Superstorm Sandy, U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced that he will introduce legislation that would protect public health by allowing Congress to provide emergency funding to contain pollution at Superfund sites following a natural disaster like Sandy.

The “Superfund Emergency Response Act of 2012” also would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a study on the vulnerability of Superfund sites to extreme weather events and develop a plan to better protect these sites from future natural disasters.

“Flooding and high winds like we saw during Superstorm Sandy can damage Superfund sites and unleash toxic pollution into our air, water and communities. As extreme weather becomes more common, we must take steps to make sure Superfund sites do not present an even greater risk to public health after a storm or disaster,” said Lautenberg, Chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, which has jurisdiction over the Superfund program.

In addition to the legislation announced at today’s hearing, Lautenberg released a letter to EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck calling for an additional assessment of Superstorm Sandy’s impact on Superfund sites in New Jersey.

“Specifically, the Raritan Bay Slag Site, a Superfund site in Sayreville, includes a seawall and jetty that are contaminated with lead slag, a byproduct of metal smelting. This contamination has tainted the surrounding area with lead and other heavy metals that are potentially toxic to humans. At least one sample taken near the site following Superstorm Sandy has shown lead levels above the recreational limit. Since we share the goal of ensuring that no one in New Jersey is at risk from toxic pollution, I request an additional assessment of whether toxic contaminants leached from any Superfund sites into the surrounding environment,” Lautenberg wrote to Enck.

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