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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2005

Contact: Peter Boger
(609) 984-1795

IMTT PROVIDES $3 MILLION TO SETTLE NATURAL RESOURCE DAMAGES FOR GROUND AND SURFACE WATER CONTAMINATION

(05/50) BAYONNE-- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today finalized a $3 million settlement with International Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT) as compensation to the state for injuries to natural resources at the company's Bayonne complex. The settlement will fund recreation and water quality improvement projects within the same watershed as the IMTT site.

"The Bayonne community will benefit from recreation and water quality projects agreed to under this settlement," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "We continue our efforts to work with cooperative parties to settle natural resource damage cases."

As part of the overall settlement, IMTT agreed to fund improvements to the Bayonne Passive Waterfront Park, or North Forty Park, where wetland restoration, observation decks, bike trails and other amenities along the Newark Bay will be constructed. The North Forty Park is located adjacent to the Stephen R. Gregg Bayonne Park, a county facility.

A second project funded through the settlement involves creating public access points along the Kill Van Kull that includes an observation deck, canoe and kayak launch ramp and signage.

Additional measures to address combined sewer overflows or storm water concerns also will be funded with the balance of funds from the settlement. The design and implementation of the latter two projects will be performed under a cooperative agreement among the City of Bayonne, New York/New Jersey Baykeeper and DEP.

"IMTT stepped forward to compensate the state for injuries that occurred before their acquisition of the property and continues to clean up at its facilities contamination stemming from prior owners," said Commissioner Campbell. "It's a good day for Bayonne residents who will gain better access to Newark Bay and the Kill Van Kull and see improved water quality along its shores."

The agreement with IMTT resolves the company's natural resource damage liability in connection with ground and surface water contamination at its industrial site. This settlement in no way releases any other parties from NRD liability associated with the site. The IMTT site is located in a historically industrial area on the eastside of Bayonne. The site is primarily used as a bulk liquid storage and transshipment services terminal for fuel and petrochemicals.

IMTT began its operations more than 20 years ago in 1983 at the Bayonne Industries Terminal and since then has acquired a number of other properties at this location, which make up most of the Bayonne Constable Hook area. In addition to the Bayonne Industries Terminal operations, IMTT acquired the former Exxon Bayonne plant, Constable Terminal, Powell Duffryn Terminals, and most recently Coastal Oil.

"It is very appropriate that the money is being spent in the host community, because our residents are the ones who have been impacted by the problems, and they will benefit directly from this funding, said Mayor and Senator Joseph V. Doria, Jr. "I would like to commend Commissioner Brad Campbell and the Coleman family of IMTT for their willingness to work together to pursue a solution to this issue."

IMTT purchased the 288-acre Exxon Bayonne site in April 1993 that is now part of its overall complex. The state has a pending lawsuit against ExxonMobil for natural resource damages resulting from its operations. Under DEP oversight, ExxonMobil remains obligated to clean up contamination at its former Bayonne facility.

"IMTT recognizes the importance of collaboration with the state of New Jersey in addressing historic damages to the environment and feels the subsequent settlement will benefit both current and future generations of Bayonne residents," said James J. Coleman Jr., IMTT Chairman of the Board.

Portions of the IMTT complex separate from the former Exxon site are contaminated with petroleum products from more than 100 years of petrochemical operations. In these areas, IMTT will conduct immediate remedial measures for areas of free and residual product, particularly in areas with migration pathways to sensitive waterways. A permanent cleanup plan will be implemented following completion of the interim measures.

"This modest but important natural resource damage settlement with IMTT will send a message that polluters, not the public, should pay to return our commonly held public trust resources to the condition they were before they were polluted, and to compensate the public - the owners and beneficiaries of the natural resources of the Kill Van Kull, Arthur Kill, and Newark Bay - for the lost use of these waterways," said Baykeeper Andrew Willner. "We look forward to working with the Department and Bayonne in implementing these important projects."

Natural resource damage program background

DEP and the Attorney General's Office have collected $29.4 million in settlements for natural resource damages since 2002 involving 267 cases. The state is working with 94 additional parties representing about 850 sites that seek to voluntarily resolve their liability for natural resource damages.

DEP uses money 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.

 

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