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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
11/19/02
02/120

Contact: Fred Mumford
609-984-1795

New Jersey Settles $3 Million Case for East Hanover Ground Water Contamination Site

(02/120) TRENTON -New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced a $3 million settlement to compensate the State of New Jersey and East Hanover Township for contamination of the local drinking water supply in a 10-square mile area of the Morris County community.

“This year’s drought emergency highlights the urgency of protecting the public interest in clean water. As trustee of water resources, we are aggressively stepping up efforts, which are long overdue, to follow through with that important mandate,” said Commissioner Campbell.

DEP executed an agreement with 19 parties to settle their alleged liability in connection with the East Hanover ground water contamination site. The settling parties will pay the Department more than $2 million, which includes $1 million for natural resource damages and more than $1 million for costs incurred by the state to prevent public exposure to the contamination. In addition, the settling parties will pay East Hanover Township $1 million for costs the municipality incurred to address the ground water contamination. The settling parties with property in the area of the ground water contamination that have not been fully investigated and cleaned up also agreed to remedy their contamination problems under DEP oversight.

"We intend to pursue vigorously those who pollute our air and water and do harm to our state's valuable natural resources," said New Jersey Acting Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. DEP works with the Department of Law and Public Safety using the authority provided by the state’s Spill Compensation and Control Act to settle cost recovery and natural resource damage cases.

DEP allocates money from contaminated site natural resource damage settlements for restoration projects and land purchases in the same watershed or general area of damage. Examples of restoration include: wetland creation/enhancement, non-point pollution control projects, purchase of aquifer recharge areas, research for restoration of endangered species, and public education projects.

Ground water contamination was first discovered in East Hanover Township in the early 1980s, when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were detected in a water sample collected from a municipal supply well. A treatment system was installed on the supply well. DEP subsequently conducted a study that identified ground water contamination in various parts of the township and identified several industrial sites as possible sources of the contamination. The Department later sampled 127 private potable wells in the township to evaluate the extent of the ground water contamination. The results of the sampling showed that several of the potable wells were contaminated with VOCs at levels exceeding New Jersey Drinking Water Standards and many others had lower levels of contamination. Between 1998 and 1999, DEP and the township connected approximately 240 properties with private wells to the existing water supply system and extended water lines to one area.
The settling parties are: Voltronics Corporation; G & F Management; Vincent and Irene Muccione; Viscot Industries, Inc.; MCE/KDI Corporation; Colgate-Palmolive Company; Deforest Investment Co. L.L.C.; Philomena Gasparine; Estate of Sylvio Gasparine; Prime Fabricators, Inc.; Township of East Hanover; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; Foster Wheeler Energy Corporation; Dorine Industrial Park Partnership; Precision Rolled Products, Inc.; Phelps Dodge Corporation (f/k/a Cyprus Amax Mineral Company); GTE Operations Support Incorporated; Ingersoll-Rand Company and Royal Lubricants Company, Inc.

DEP is increasing enforcement to restore ecological injuries, which can include payment of monetary damages, if entities are found responsible for contamination and injury to natural resources. DEP’s natural resource damage program will be expanded to include more contaminated sites across the state like those causing injury to ground water supplies in East Hanover Township. In the last nine months, DEP has successfully achieved more than $8.1 million in natural resource damage settlements, an amount greater than reached in the previous six years.

“I was astounded to find on taking office in January that the Department had not pursued, or left unsettled, thousands of cases against polluters responsible for a wide range of damages to New Jersey’s natural resources,” said Campbell. “We are putting this program back on track and are committed to aggressively pursuing damage settlements for the residents of this state who have lost the ability to use and enjoy some of our most precious natural resources, including drinking water sources and wetlands.”

Natural resource injuries from a discharge of hazardous substances can be both ecological injuries to wetlands, wildlife, ground water or surface water and human use injuries such as the closure of a waterway to fishing, a beach to swimming or an aquifer to supply potable water. Natural resource damage is the dollar value of the restoration that is necessary to compensate the residents of New Jersey for the injury to natural resources.

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