TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon which requires the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to provide written commitment that an eligible owner or operator of a non-leaking underground storage tank is eligible for financial assistance under the State’s cleanup fund regulations to replace or close the tank was signed into law yesterday by Governor Corzine.
“Underground storage tanks – even fully-intact tanks – can quickly become dangerous contaminants to groundwater and soil quality if they spring a leak,” said Senator Gordon, D-Bergen. “New Jersey has to do everything it can to encourage tank owners to keep on top of repairs, or close tanks if a more environmentally-conscious heating alternative is available. Rather than requiring homeowners to finance the cost of upkeep and then reimbursing them a portion of that cost if they’re eligible, homeowners acting in good faith will now have assurances of financial assistance before the project begins.”
The bill, S-2568, requires the EDA to provide written confirmation of a tank owner’s eligibility for financial assistance from the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Remediation, Upgrade and Closure fund for costs associated with the voluntary closure or replacement of a non-leaking storage tank. The new law directs the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to prepare a cost guidance document to establish the maximum cost paid out for eligible project costs of voluntarily closing or replacing a non-leaking tank. And finally, the bill expands the eligibility for financial assistance and reimbursement for tank remediation and clean-up projects to nonprofit organizations and volunteer fire, ambulance, first aid, emergency and rescue squads around New Jersey.
“This bill takes a lot of the guesswork out of maintaining privately-owned underground storage tanks in an environmentally-friendly manner,” said Senator Gordon. “Many homeowners are unaware of what financing options are available to them to make good environmental decisions regarding underground storage tanks. If we want remediation programs to act as real incentives for homeowners to keep up with tank maintenance, we must give tank owners pre-project assurances that reimbursement funds will be available to them.”
The bill was approved unanimously by the Assembly in March, and received final approval from the Senate in May.