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Sweeney Measure To Help Prevent Ground Contamination Clears Senate

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Steve Sweeney that would fund the removal and the replacement of petroleum underground storage containers with above ground tanks, thereby helping to prevent soil and groundwater contamination was unanimously approved today by the Senate.

“This bill would provide the necessary means to allow homeowners and business owners to prevent future, very dangerous ground contamination,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “The fact is that these tanks could leak in the future. It could be the very near future, or it could be years from now, but that’s not really important. The important and dangerous thing is that by leaking, these tanks would contaminate nearby soil and ground water, and pose serious threats to public health and safety – that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.”

Senator Sweeney’s bill, S-482, would revise current law governing the use of money in the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Remediation, Upgrade and Closure Fund to allow for the authorization of grants of up to $1,200 for the closure of non-leaking heating oil tanks and appropriate grants of up to $3,000 for the closure and repair of non-leaking tanks. Tank owners would be responsible to make up the difference in funds not recovered by State grants. The bill would also increase the current cap for tank owners and operators in the State’s Highlands region from $2 million to $3 million.

The bill would also expand the eligibility criteria for the awarding of hardship grants, which help cover the cost for homeowners and business owners who cannot afford remainder of the cost of the tank remediation for commercial and residential tanks. Under the bill, the taxable yearly income cap for owners and operators seeking to qualify for a hardship grant would be raised from $200,000 to $250,000.

This measure now heads to the Assembly for approval.

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