NRD SETTLEMENT WITH EL PASO CORPORATION
Company Will Protect
More Than 260 Acres and Pay for Wetlands Restoration
TRENTON (05/86)- Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced
the settlement of natural resource damage (NRD) claims against
El Paso Corporation for injuries to wetlands and groundwater at
37 sites in 10 New Jersey counties.
"This settlement illustrates that our pursuit of natural
resource damages translates directly into water supply and open
space preservation in our communities," said Commissioner
Campbell. "New Jersey is the only state systematically pursuing
NRD claims for these types of injuries, and the only state achieving
on-the-ground restoration through these claims."
El Paso Corporation is a Delaware-based natural gas transporter
with principal offices in Houston, Texas. DEP is currently working
with the company to remediate discharges of hazardous substances
to wetlands and groundwater at sites throughout the state that
were impacted by El Paso's predecessors.
As compensation for the natural resource damages arising from
these discharges, El Paso has agreed to purchase and preserve
263 acres in two separate parcels. In Warren County, El Paso will
purchase 133 acres that exhibit some of the highest aquifer recharge
in the state and will be made part of DEP's Pequest Wildlife Management
Area. In Sussex County, El Paso will purchase 130 acres that contain
endangered species habitat and will be deeded to the Walkill National
Wildlife Refuge. Both parcels will be open to the public for outdoor
In addition, the company has agreed to pay the state $260,000
for wetlands restoration work at a site to be determined.
NRD claims compensate the residents of New Jersey for the injury
and lost use of natural resources due to contamination. Injuries
can refer to both ecological injuries to wetlands, wildlife, groundwater
or surface water and to human use injuries such as the closure
of a waterway to fishing, a beach to swimming or an aquifer for
use as drinking water supply.
DEP prefers NRD settlements to include restoration work and resource
protection in lieu of payment of monetary damages. NRD claims
are separate from the costs associated with cleaning up contamination.
New Jersey has collected $29.8 million in settlements for natural
resource damages since 2002 involving 313 sites. New Jersey is
working with 94 additional parties representing about 850 sites
that seek to voluntarily resolve their liability for natural resource
damages. In all, the state has negotiated more than twice the
amount of NRD compensation, including protection of more than
2,200 acres of land, from polluters in the past three years than
in the previous 10 years of New Jersey's NRD program.
The proposed NRD settlement with El Paso will appear in the August
1, 2005 New Jersey Register and will be subject to a 30-day public