TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Steve Sweeney that would help fund the removal and the replacement of above ground petroleum storage tanks, thereby helping to prevent soil and groundwater contamination received unanimous final legislative approval today in the Assembly.
“The purpose of this bill is to prevent ground contamination by replacing or removing the tanks before they begin leaking,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “The reality is that these tanks can begin leaking at any time, and if that happens, nearby soil and groundwater would be contaminated, leading to serious health risks for people living nearby. This is all about taking preventative measures to help protect the health and safety of local residents.”
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 was unanimously approved by the Senate on June 19. It now heads to the Governor’s desk where his signature would make it state law.