Press release | Press releases | Writing

07.02.21

Schumer’s two-part plan for the infrastructure package would add: 1) A multibillion-dollar injection to revive the EPA’s Superfund program 2) Restore the Superfund’s “polluter pays” tax for funding at long term

Schumer: Time for Congress to invest in a complete cleanup of the mess that is polluting Ulster County

Standing at the former asbestos-contaminated TechCity site in the city of Ulster, where the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently took enforcement action as part of his Superfund suppression program, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today launched a bold two-part plan to revive the Superfund program from the United States. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in upcoming infrastructure bills. Specifically, Schumer has said that in future bills he will first strive to invest billions in cleanups supported by the EPA nationwide and second, he will fight to revive the tax. Superfund, which has long expired, to ensure that polluters are responsible for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled waste. waste sites.

“Residents of Ulster County can neither afford nor deserve large-scale asbestos contamination like TechCity’s,” said Senator Schumer. “It is the responsibility of polluters to clean up and completely eliminate toxins to ensure the health, safety and peace of mind of the communities of Ulster County. However, with such a large contamination we need to have a holistic approach and the federal government needs to take the lead and help with the cleanup, which is why I am asking for a multibillion infusion for the Superfund vital program, which has already spent 600,000. $ right here in Ulster, in addition to getting more federal support for EPA-backed cleanups. Cleaning up contaminated sites like TechCity for a return to productive use can be an engine of economic development across the country and is a critical part of rebuilding Hudson Valley infrastructure, improving health public sector and job creation.

Schumer explained that as stated in President Biden’s speech American employment plan, it will first push for an additional investment of $ 5 billion to remediate and redevelop the Brownfield and Superfund sites, as well as related economic and workforce development programs, in upcoming Bills on infrastructure. It is important to note that the current bipartite infrastructure proposal also includes an additional investment in the EPA Superfund program. This year, the EPA’s annual budget for the Superfund Response and Removal program was approximately $ 190 million nationwide. EPA Region 2, which covers New York City, received about $ 18 million from that pot this year, including $ 12 million for fieldwork and withdrawal activities. Currently, according to the EPA, the agency is involved in 43 different sites in New York State, including on PRP and federally funded work. While the EPA may straddle large multi-million dollar projects, like TechCity, over several years to fund this work, this increased investment provide additional funding resources for high priority EPA sites and streamline pathways to productive reuse.

Schumer said that while this one-time investment in federal cleanups is critical to improving public health and creating job opportunities as New York City recovers from the pandemic, part two of his plan – revive long-expired industry Superfund taxes – provide additional long-term financial security for the clean-up sites. Through the Hazardous Substance Superfund Trust Fund, chemical manufacturers have already paid taxes to help fund the cleanup of sites where potentially responsible parties could not be found or could not pay. However, the power of the federal government to levy industrial taxes for this fund expired more than 25 years ago in 1995. Schumer said reinstating this tax would go a long way in reviving toxic waste sites by offering greater certainty of funding. Recently, the White House also supported the “polluter pays” tax proposal as described in the bipartite infrastructure framework.

Schumer said his two-part plan is key to cleaning up contaminated sites, like TechCity, and using them productively to help fuel the regional economy while improving public health. Schumer explained that Ulster County already has took possession of two plots on the former TechCity site and plans to invest $ 1.5 million of its $ 34.49 million that Senator Schumer has fought tirelessly to get into the US bailout to create hundreds of jobs at this site. Currently, the county has received more than 20 proposals for the potential redevelopment of this property only.

“Today we take another important step in the revitalization of this site, returning it to its rightful place as the beating heart of our revitalized and revamped Ulster County economy,” County executive Pat Ryan said. “Senator Schumer is a longtime partner and champion of Ulster County residents. Through his tireless advocacy for the clean-up of this site and his successful efforts to secure over $ 34 million in US county bailout funds, we now have the funds and support to bring this site back to life. and create quality jobs and opportunities for our community. “

“Struggling for 12 years to revitalize and clean up Tech City, I commend Senator Schumer for his bold proposal to provide additional resources to the EPA for its efforts to clean up the Superfund and Brownfield sites nationwide and hopefully. the, in the city of Ulster. ” Ulster City Supervisor James Quigley said.

Cleaning up the remaining piles of hazardous waste and asbestos debris at TechCity, Schumer said, could provide even more opportunities for new jobs and industries in the Hudson Valley. For more than 30 years, the 258-acre property, bordered by Enterprise Drive, Boices Lane, the CSX Railroad and US Route 209, has been the economic engine of Ulster County as home to IBM and its 7,000 employees. however, in 1998, the computer giant sold the property and its new owner made an effort to build a business park by selling subdivided plots within the property to various business interests with limited success. Today TechCity faces decaying buildings, piles of rubble, asbestos contamination and millions of unpaid taxes. The site is near a residential area and is close to the sports fields used by a children’s soccer league. According to Ulster County, the estimated cost to clean up IBM’s old campus will be $ 12 million and currently the owner of the toxic site owes around $ 22 million in back taxes.

TechCity is processed as part of the EPA’s short-term cleanup program, the Superfund Removal program, Schumer said. According to the APE, in March 2020, the agency mobilized on the site to undertake part of the moving work. EPA actions included:

  • Demolition of a partially demolished and asbestos-contaminated structure identified as building 2 and elimination of approximately 200 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated materials;
  • Decontamination of 150 tonnes of steel, which were shipped off-site for recycling; and
  • Secure the exterior of Building 1 by repairing barriers, installing temporary fencing and posting asbestos warning signs.

Senator Schumer applauded the EPA’s enforcement efforts at the site, which are still ongoing. Both Congress and EPA have determined that asbestos is a dangerous air pollutant and medical science has established that no minimum level of exposure to asbestos fibers is considered safe for those exposed. Exposure to asbestos can lead to a debilitating lung disease called asbestosis, a rare cancer of the chest and abdominal wall called mesothelioma, and various other cancers.

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