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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2005

Contact: Fred Mumford
(609) 984-1795

DEP APPROVES $13.2 MILLION HATCO SITE CLEANUP AND LAND ACQUISITION SETTLEMENT FOR WETLAND AND GROUND WATER CONTAMINATION

(05/47) Woodbridge -- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced approval of a privately funded $13.2 million PCB-contaminated soil cleanup at the Hatco site in Woodbridge Township. He also announced an agreement to preserve a separate 34-acre land parcel to compensate the state for injuries to natural resources.

"This agreement provides a clear plan for cleaning up chemical contamination that has scarred this site for too long," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "Restoration projects to preserve valuable open space and wetlands also are important to protect water quality in the Raritan River watershed."

DEP is requiring a large-scale cleanup of PCB-contaminated soil at the Hatco site, which was formerly owned by W.R. Grace. DEP approved a site-wide remedy for PCBs that involves both capping and off-site removal. The cleanup will cost the responsible parties approximately $13.2 million. A private environmental remediation company, Weston Inc., will conduct the cleanup using these funds under an innovative agreement that places future liability for the remedial project with Weston and ACE USA, an insurance firm.

"The Woodbridge community will be safer because this agreement makes the cleanup of remaining contaminated soils at the Hatco site a reality," said Commissioner Campbell. "This cleanup and natural resource damage settlement with Hatco is another significant step forward as we continue to reverse damage caused by decades of uncontrolled pollution to our water supply."

"This agreement will ensure that the necessary expertise and resources are employed to remove toxic PCBs from this site so they will no longer endanger the health of area residents," said New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. "We will continue to work with DEP to compel responsible parties to both clean up contamination that threatens our water quality and compensate the residents of New Jersey for damaging their natural resources."

"Woodbridge is pleased with the state's tenacity in concluding this landmark environmental settlement," said Woodbridge Township Mayor Frank G. Pelzman. "We applaud the cooperation among all parties that will now permit the cleanup to start."

DEP reached an agreement with Hatco Corporation and W.R. Grace & Co.to resolve the companies' natural resource damage (NRD) liability in connection with wetland and ground water contamination at the former industrial site. The company agreed to conduct a land acquisition project with the state rather than executing a monetary settlement for the natural resource damages.

"We are pleased that the parties have been able to reach an agreement for the remediation of the Hatco site and give particular note to the efforts of DEP," said Alex Kaufman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hatco. "This agreement is the result of a lot of hard work, during months of meetings and negotiation sessions, by all the parties and, when approved by the bankruptcy court handling W.R. Grace's case, will result in the expeditious cleanup of the Hatco site and resolution of NRD issues."

The property being acquired as part of the settlement is a 34-acre parcel of land in Montgomery Township, which is a mix of wetland and upland habitat. This land is within the Raritan drainage area, as is the location of the contamination in Woodbridge Township. The Montgomery property contains both meadow and forest communities, with Rock Brook flowing along the rear of the property. D&R Greenway Land Trust has a pending contract on this land and will receive funding from the settling parties to acquire the property as part of the state's settlement.

"Water quality is threatened from the headwaters to the big rivers, and where water is concerned municipal boundaries are meaningless - watershed boundaries matter," said Montgomery Township Mayor Louise Wilson. "This acquisition will protect water quality and critical woodland and meadow habitat in the Sourlands, where the ecosystem is fragile and very much at risk. That's priceless."

"Permanent preservation of high quality environmental land provides immediate and on-going benefits to the citizens of New Jersey," said D&R Greenway's Director of Land Preservation, Bill Rawlyk. "This acquisition represents a turning point by creating a new model of funding for open space acquisitions that supplements the traditional DEP Green Acres Program and SADC funding."

In September 2004, DEP included the Hatco site as part of a Raritan River initiative that requires specific cleanup work by responsible parties at five contaminated sites along the river's lower section to improve water quality. DEP worked with the Edison Wetlands Association to identify the sites where cleanup work had lagged for years.

"We view this announcement as a step in the right direction," said Robert Spiegel, Executive Director of the Edison Wetlands Association. "Our organization will be vigilant in ensuring that this site is cleaned up to levels that are protective of human health and the environment, and that natural areas onsite are fully restored."

The damages associated with the Hatco site include 3.46 acres of contaminated wetland and a plume of ground water contamination as large as 16 acres.

Natural resource damage program background

DEP and the Attorney General's Office have collected $26.4 million in settlements for natural resource damages since 2002 involving 266 cases. The state is working with 95 additional parties representing about 850 sites that seek to voluntarily resolve their liability for natural resource damages.

DEP uses monies from natural resource damage settlements from contaminated sites and oil spills for restoration projects and land purchases in the same watershed or general area of where the injuries occurred. Examples of restoration include: wetland creation/enhancement, non-point pollution control projects, purchase of aquifer recharge areas, research for restoration of endangered species, and public education projects.

DEP assesses natural resource damages to compensate the residents of New Jersey for injuries to natural resources that are held in the public trust. Injuries can include both ecological injuries such as damage to wetlands, wildlife, ground water or surface water as well as public use injuries such as the closure of a waterway to fishing, a beach to swimming or an aquifer to use as a drinking water supply. New Jersey's Spill Compensation and Control Act holds any entity that has discharged hazardous substances onto the land or into the waters of the state liable for cleanup and removal costs, as well as the cost of restoring or replacing natural resources injured by the discharge.

Hatco site history

W. R. Grace & Co. (Grace) owned and operated the site from 1959 to 1978 as the Hatco Chemical Division. On August 21, 1978, Grace sold the assets of the Hatco Chemical Division to (an entity that became known as) Hatco Chemical Corporation. Hatco Chemical Corporation changed its name to Hatco Corporation (Hatco) in 1986. Since the late 1980s and pursuant to a 1992 administrative consent order between DEP and Hatco, the Woodbridge site has undergone significant investigation and interim emergency cleanups to address environmental contamination with an associated cost of $5 million undertaken by the responsible parties.

Grace and Hatco entered into an environmental liability transfer with Weston and its insurer, ACE USA, to allow a cleanup of the site to proceed and to avoid significant transaction costs and delays. Grace and Hatco negotiated an agreement with Weston and an environmental insurance policy with Weston and ACE USA where Weston and ACE USA will accept responsibility for essentially all historical environmental liability in exchange for the up-front funding of the remediation and the purchase of the insurance policy. Consequently, the liability transfer will result in a cleanup by a nationally recognized environmental remediation company backed by a multi-billion dollar insurance company that may otherwise have cleanup significantly delayed by the bankruptcy filing of Grace and possibly end up requiring public funding.

 

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