Statement of Senator Edward M. Kennedy to the
Subcommittee on Environment and Public Works
July 31, 2002
The lack of funding for Superfund sites across the nation is a serious problem that Congress and The Administration have a responsibility to meet. Massachusetts has two Superfund sites on the National Priority List that are of great concern to the well-being of all the citizens in our state. The Atlas Tack Company site in Fairhaven and the New Bedford Harbor site have a long history of toxic waste contamination and are serious risks to public health. After years of legal battles and environmental testing, these two sites are now at the important construction phase of the clean-up, and they deserve full funding.
The Atlas Tack Corporation manufactured large numbers of tacks and nails from 1901 through 1985. The company discharged toxic wastes into the ground and the wetlands surrounding the site. In 1990, the EPA added the site to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites. The EPA released a Proposed Plan in December 1999, identifying the preferred cleanup alternative. In March 2000, a Record of Decision was signed identifying the remedy and calling for a three-phase $18 million clean-up strategy.
New Bedford Harbor is the largest Superfund site in New England. It is a $317 million project and is one of the oldest Superfund sites in the country. $72.4 million has been spent so far, including the remedial design and remedial action. Starting next year and for the next seven years, dredging will take place. Each year, $30.1 million is needed to finish the project. The revitalization of the City of New Bedford depends heavily on the cleanup of the harbor.
To meet the continuing cost of Superfund clean-ups across the country, Congress should re-authorize the corporate Superfund tax. From 1981 to 1995, these revenues provided close to $1 billion a year for the clean-up of these sites. The failure by Congress to re-authorize the tax in 1996 has shifted too much of the heavy financial burden of cleaning up these sites to the average taxpayer. In 1997, $1.15 billion for clean-ups came from the Superfund Tax Trust Fund, and $250 million came from taxpayer general revenues. This year, only $783 million came from the Trust Fund share, $676 million came from general revenues. Polluters who endanger our communities and our environment should be held responsible. The Superfund tax should be restored, so that Superfund clean-up projects in states across the country can be fairly and fully funded.