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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2009

Contact: Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795

COMMISSIONER MAURIELLO COMMITS TO SETTING CHROMIUM
STANDARD BASED ON CAREFUL SCIENTIFIC REVIEW

(09/P14) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Mark N. Mauriello today said that the agency will develop final standards for the cleanup of chromium-contaminated soil, emphasizing that this will be done based on careful, scientific analysis and in accordance with state laws.

“New Jersey already has the nation’s most protective policy in place for the cleanup of soil contaminated with hexavalent chromium, but we need permanent standards,” Commissioner Mauriello said. “The principles of sound science as well as state law dictate that we conduct a full evaluation before adopting final standards. We will begin the process of setting final cleanup standards for chromium at the start of next year.”

A petition for immediate rulemaking was filed by the Interfaith Community Organization; GRACO, a Jersey City community group; and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Chromium is used in a variety of industrial applications, including metal plating, the manufacture of stainless steel and the production of colored glass. Hudson County was for many years the center of chromium production in the United States, with three of the nation’s six chromium plants located in the county. Two were located in Jersey City, the other in Kearny.

Of 185 sites in Hudson County and adjacent Essex County that have been polluted by chromate ore wastes resulting from the production of chromium, 70 have been remediated to applicable standards and have received DEP No Further Action determinations.

Of the remaining sites, all are being investigated or are in some stage of remediation as required by DEP administrative orders. All have some form of interim measures in place, such as temporary capping or fencing, to protect the public until final remediation activities take place.

In developing any cleanup standard, state law requires the DEP to identify the hazards posed by a contaminant and whether exposure can increase the incidence of adverse health affects in humans. The DEP is also required by law to analyze testing techniques to ensure that health-based standards can be accurately measured and to assess the extent of the contaminant in background soils.

In 2007, the DEP issued a chromium policy that calls for no more than 20 parts per million of chromium to a depth of 20 feet in order to receive a No Further Action determination from the DEP. The policy replaced a formal standard of 100 parts per million that had been in place for years. It was issued pending completion of ongoing federal toxicity studies for chromium.

The process for adopting a final standard takes a year from introduction, meaning a final DEP chromium standard could be in place by early 2011.

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Last Updated: June 15, 2009