BEGIN CLEANUP AT THREE JERSEY CITY CHROME SITES
Files Suit Naming Honeywell, Occidental Petroleum and PPG Industries
Liable For 106 Sites in Hudson, Essex Counties
(05/51) JERSEY CITY -- Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell
today announced that the Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) will immediately begin cleanups at three chromium-contaminated
sites in Jersey City. In addition, DEP has issued a directive
against Honeywell International Inc., Occidental Petroleum Corporation
and PPG Industries, Inc. seeking reimbursement for the cleanups.
At the same time, Attorney General Peter C. Harvey announced
that the state has filed suit against the three companies in a
push by DEP and the Attorney General to clean up all remaining
The complaint filed against Honeywell, Occidental and PPG demands
that the three defendants, as successors to the chemical manufacturers
that produced the toxic waste, complete cleanup of contamination
at 106 sites and reimburse DEP for its investigation, cleanup
and removal costs.
DEP's directive also demands reimbursement for the cost of a
study to assess the health exposure and risks to Hudson County
residents living near chromium waste sites. The exposure study
will build on earlier work and provide new information about the
health impacts of chromium exposure. DEP is coordinating with
the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and Rutgers
University on the study, which is estimated to cost $1.5 million.
"Jersey City has waited too long for cleanup of these sites,"
said DEP Commissioner Campbell. "We will use every tool in
the law to keep Jersey City from waiting any longer, and to make
sure polluters pay the costs."
"Clean water, air and land are a right, not a privilege,"
said Attorney General Harvey. "For too long, the residents
of these communities have lived with the threat of this highly
toxic chromate waste. Our lawsuit will compel the responsible
companies to clean up the remaining chromium contamination."
"For too long, government has done too little to compel
the corporate generators of chromium to clean up the toxic mess
that they created,"said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy.
"That is changing today and I am happy that the Attorney
General's Office and the Department of Environmental Protection
are joining us in an effort to compel these polluters to rid our
city of chromium contamination once and for all."
DEP will use public funds to clean up chrome at three contaminated
sites in Jersey City. Starting in early May, DEP will excavate
contaminated soil at the former Morris Canal Site No. 2 on Grand
Street near City Hall, the Tempesta and Sons property, located
at 2 Aetna Street and Liberty State Park. DEP estimates the total
cost of the cleanup will be over $18 million. DEP also issued
a directive to Honeywell, Occidental and PPG, calling for a commitment
within 10 days from the companies. If the companies do not respond
and agree to cover these cleanup costs, DEP will seek, as allowed
under the Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act), treble
damages, which is three times the amount expended by the DEP.
The complaint filed by the Attorney General in Superior Court
in Hudson County also demands treble damages for cleanups at numerous
sites where the defendants failed to comply with prior DEP directives.
The 106 sites represent all of the remaining, known unremediated
sites of chromium contamination in Hudson and Essex counties,
with the exception of six sites covered by prior legal orders.
The sites are contaminated with hexavalent chromium, a highly
toxic heavy metal that has been linked to lung cancer.
Along with today's cleanup announcement, the DEP Chromium Workgroup
released a draft report today, which evaluated DEP's soil cleanup
criteria for chromium at chrome waste sites in New Jersey. Commissioner
Campbell created the workgroup in March 2004 after hearing concerns
raised by the Hudson County community where most of the chrome
waste sites are located. The workgroup determined that the existing
criteria being used by DEP for chromium cleanups are based on
valid science. However, several recommendations were made to ensure
adequate documentation of decisions made at sites. Also, the workgroup
recommended areas for further research to ensure confidence that
the Department's standards will protect public health and the
The workgroup includes experts from various DEP programs, along
with a representative from the Department of Health and Senior
Services and one representative from the New Jersey District of
the US Geological Survey.
In the last century, Hudson County was a center of U.S. production
of chromium chemicals. Over many years of chromate production,
the three Hudson County manufacturers, corporate predecessors
of the companies named in the lawsuit, generated more than two
million tons of chromium bearing waste. The chromate waste was
used as fill for construction projects, resulting in deposits
throughout Hudson and Essex counties.
Toxic chromium ions continue to leach from the waste and solidify
on surfaces at the contaminated sites, creating a public health
threat. In addition to being a lung carcinogen, hexavalent chromium
can cause dermatitis, chromium ulcers, and nasal septum perforations.
For more information about the NJDEP Chromium Workgroup, visit
the Department's Web site at: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/dsr/chromium/