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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2006

Contact: Karen Hershey (609) 984-1795
Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994

DEP FINES TOTOWA ASPHALT COMPANY FOR FUEL SPILL IMPACTING PASSAIC RIVER

(06/12) TRENTON - Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today announced that the Department of Environmental Protection fined Tilcon New York Inc., an asphalt company, $60,000 for spilling heating oil into the Passaic River on February 5.

"Tilcon should have taken steps to stop the discharge of fuel at their facility. Once it became apparent that there was contamination in the river, Tilcon should have immediately started clean up," said Commissioner Jackson. "Instead, DEP learned of the spill from other sources."

DEP responded immediately by deploying cleanup workers to contain the discharge and prevent further contamination of the Passaic River.

The $60,000 penalty was assessed under the Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act) for failing to immediately notify the Department of the spill and for failing to take immediate action to stop the discharge. The Spill Act prohibits the discharge of a hazardous substance except in compliance with a state or federal permit.

Tilcon was also cited under the Water Pollution Control Act for discharging pollutants in the river. The law regulates the discharge of pollutants to surface and groundwater.

An investigation revealed that a 10,000 gallon above ground storage tank at Tilcon discharged fuel oil into a containment area, then into a nearby storm drain, which later spread through a tributary into the Passaic River. The sheen stretched for five miles, covering a portion of the Passaic River from Totowa to Paterson.

DEP was part of a team of responders from local, county, and state agencies that worked to contain the discharge. Cleanup crews were hired by the Department to deploy booms in various locations along the river, and to clean product from the river's shoreline. DEP also supervised the efforts of cleanup crews to flush out all the storm drains in the vicinity of the discharge. The cleanup lasted 10 days and was completed in mid-February.

Although drinking water was not impacted by the incident, the Passaic Valley Water Commission shut down intakes from the affected portion of the river as a precaution for 12 days.

 

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