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Sweeney Legislation That Will Help Clean Up Contaminated Sites Signed Into Law

Tax Refunds Will Go Directly To DEP For Remediation

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney that will ensure the clean up of contaminated sites in New Jersey has been signed into law. The Senate President announced his intention to sponsor the legislation earlier this year in front of the shuttered Sunoco Coastal Eagle Point Refinery in West Deptford.

The law, S-1460, requires that any property tax refund awarded to an industrial property that has been totally or partially decommissioned and is subject to federal or state orders for remediation go directly to the state Department of Environmental Protection, to be used for environmental cleanup of the location. Any money leftover after the cleanup is complete will be returned to the owner of the property. The law also authorizes a municipality to assess an annual charge on the owner of the contaminated property to cover remediation costs.

“For too long, New Jersey was seen as a toxic dumping ground by corporations who ceased operations, went bankrupt or otherwise abandoned New Jersey,” said Sweeney. “We have tried with some success to force these companies to clean up the mess they left, but it is nowhere near enough. This law holds such corporations, like Sunoco, accountable for their environmental responsibilities.”

In West Deptford, Sunoco has operated a major refinery, employing hundreds of workers. In 2009, the company announced plans to idle its refining operation and laid off most of its 500 workers. After recent settlement of Sunoco’s tax appeals, West Deptford could owe more than $30 million in overpaid taxes on the property. West Deptford has already sought approval to bond to be able to make the payment.

Remediation work at the Sunoco refinery has been ongoing. There are more than 350 monitoring wells for groundwater contamination and other wells to prevent off-site migration of the contamination. The company is also operating 18 remediation wells at the site.

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