GARFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey’s U.S. senators say they’re introducing legislation that would again force industries responsible for contamination to pay for the cleanup at those sites.

New Jersey has about 114 superfund sites, and 50 percent of residents live within 3 miles of one, WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported. That percentage is higher than any other state in the nation, according to Sen. Bob Menendez, who says the problem is that the cost for cleanup is often falling on the taxpayers.

“It just seems to me fundamentally wrong,” Menendez said during Monday’s announcement at a groundwater contamination site in Garfield where cleanup was never completed.

Menendez is joining fellow Sen. Cory Booker in reintroducing the legislation, which would reinstate the excise tax on polluting industries to pay for superfund site cleanup.

“Living within 3 miles of a superfund site increases the rates of autism for children that are born, is correlated also with birth defects,” Booker said.

The dedication of money to clean up such sites ended in 1995, said Judith Enck of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who stood alongside the Democratic senators Monday.

“We will need at least $40 million to do this cleanup,” Enck said of the Garfield site, adding that kind of money is not sitting on her desk.

Menendez argued it’s a simple principle.

“If you mess up, you clean up,” he said.


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