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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 11, 2005

 

Contact: Fred Mumford
(609) 984-1795

 

DEP SETTLES MAJOR NATURAL RESOURCE DAMAGE CLAIM WITH DUPONT
Compensation for Groundwater Contamination at Eight Sites Statewide

(05/97) OLD BRIDGE -- In one of the largest natural resource damage settlements in state history, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced an innovative agreement with E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company (“DuPont”) to compensate the public for injuries to groundwater at eight hazardous sites in New Jersey. The settlement includes preservation of 1,875 acres of land, planting of 3,000 trees in urban areas, payment of $500,000 to the state for water restoration projects and construction of a boat ramp along the Salem River. The preserved land is in Cape May, Gloucester, Middlesex, Passaic and Salem counties.

“This settlement exemplifies a new paradigm for companies to resolve their natural resource damage liabilities in New Jersey,” said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. “Long-standing damage claims are translating directly into permanent conservation of land and water resources, as well as expanded public access to natural resources.”

The “resource-to-resource” form of compensation developed by the state avoids costly litigation and complex, time-consuming monetary valuation of natural resource injuries by focusing on restoration and land preservation projects. DEP used this method after DuPont approached the state willing to settle its NRD liability for contaminating 2,400 acres of groundwater. In the resource-to-resource compensation model, DuPont had to protect an equivalent area of land with a high aquifer recharge rate. Since DuPont only offered 1,875 acres as compensation, DEP required additional environmental projects to make up for the acreage difference.

“The DuPont settlement represents the largest in-kind compensation package ever obtained for damages to the state’s ground water resources,” said Commissioner Campbell. “New Jersey is the only state in the nation systematically pursuing natural resource damage claims, and this settlement illustrates our strong preference for on-the-ground restoration rather than cash recoveries.”

DEP’s voluntary settlement track has resulted in the settlement of natural resource damages at 360 hazardous sites. The DuPont settlement brings the total of preserved wildlife habitat and aquifer recharge area to more than 4,000 acres.

"This agreement underscores DuPont's continuing commitment to work in cooperation with the public sector to resolve environmental responsibilities related to our historical manufacturing operations and represents a significant success for both the environment and citizens of New Jersey," said A. Dwight Bedsole, director of DuPont's Corporate Remediation Group.

DEP is overseeing ground water testing and cleanup work by DuPont at all eight contaminated sites, which are either presently or formerly owned by the company.

“This is a major step in restoring the public’s interest in natural resources, from which they have been restricted for many years” said NY/NJ Baykeeper Andy Wilner. “The public is the owner and beneficiary of these natural resources and the DEP, as Trustee, represents our interest. We applaud the commissioner and the Department’s NRD program for this for resource to resource settlement.”

The settlement, which resolves natural resource damage liability for groundwater contamination at all eight sites, requires DuPont to place conservation easements on four undeveloped, uncontaminated properties and donate to the Department two undeveloped, uncontaminated properties that are in the same watershed as the contaminated sites (see settlement map). The lands preserved by conservation easement eventually will be transferred to DEP or DEP-approved land conservation organizations.

“This settlement will help our environment heal and will bring long-term protection and benefits to our communities as a whole,” said Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum.

The Pompton Lakes parcels (73 acres), in and adjacent to the Highlands, have been owned by DuPont since 1902 and will be transferred to DEP and added to Ramapo State Forest. These lands are heavily forested, provide excellent wildlife habitat and exhibit some of the highest aquifer recharge in the region. They also will now be open to the public for recreation.

The Duhernal parcel (63 acres) is now jointly owned by DuPont, Hercules, Inc. and the Borough of Sayreville. The parcel is now part of a larger forested area that recharges the aquifer used by Sayreville and surrounding Middlesex County communities as drinking water. Much of the property is comprised of uplands that could be developed if sold to a private entity as development encroaches.

The two Repauno parcels (435 acres) are predominantly forested wetlands and emergent freshwater marsh adjacent to the Delaware River. Approximately 100 acres of this land recharges groundwater.

The 955 acres comprising the Salem Creek parcels are a mixture of open waters and wetlands and adjacent forested uplands. These parcels provide excellent fish and wildlife habitat, but recreational opportunities are limited due to restricted access. To remedy the access limitations, DuPont will construct a 15-feet wide boat ramp with an access road and parking in Mannington Township as part of the settlement. The boat ramp will provide safe and unrestricted access to recreational opportunities.

DuPont also will contribute $500,000 toward the acquisition of 350 acres of undeveloped, forested property in Cape May County. The area is under heavy development pressure and protecting this land is critical to maintaining water supplies in Cape May County, as it serves as aquifer recharge for the Wildwood well field. The parcel also contains valuable wildlife habitat, serving as a critical refuge for migratory birds.

Another component of the settlement calls for DuPont to provide $1.8 million for urban shade tree plantings in the cities and towns of the Arthur Kill and Passaic watersheds.

DEP will use the remaining $500,000 to restore wetland habitat or purchase aquifer recharge areas.

In addition to protecting more than 4,000 acres of wildlife habitat and aquifer recharge area, DEP and the Attorney General’s Office have recovered approximately $29 million since 2002. DEP uses this money to restore wetlands and endangered species habitat, increase public access to natural resources, and protect and manage resources injured by oil spills and hazardous waste sites. DEP also is working with 95 additional responsible parties representing about 850 sites that seek to voluntarily resolve their liability for natural resource damages.

 

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