Seeks Compensation for Natural Resource Damages at Ciba-Geigy
(03/139) TRENTON ---
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner
Bradley M. Campbell and Attorney General Peter C. Harvey
today announced that New Jersey is pursuing compensation
for natural resource damages for ground water contamination
at the Ciba-Giegy Superfund site in Dover Township, Ocean
"This action seeks compensation from companies responsible
for damages to the Toms River watershed caused by Ciba-Geigy's
dye and resin manufacturing operations," said Commissioner
Campbell. "Ground water is one of New Jersey's most
critical natural resources and contamination at Ciba-Geigy's
site has resulted in lost drinking water supplies for residents
in the Toms River area. Accordingly, restoration for Dover
has been a high priority for the McGreevey Administration."
Under Governor McGreevey's leadership, DEP and the Attorney
General's Office in the Department of Law and Public Safety
last week announced a large-scale policy directive to address
more than 4,000 potential claims for natural resource damages
statewide. The McGreevey Administration has taken aggressive
action against responsible parties requiring assessment
and restoration of natural resource injuries from contaminated
sites across the state.
"We intend to vigorously pursue the state's claims
for natural resource damages," said Attorney General
Harvey. "Where companies have polluted our land or
waters, we will hold them responsible for compensating
the people of this state and restoring our environment.
Working with the Department of Environmental Protection,
the Attorney General's Office will pursue these important
The state requested that Ciba Speciality Chemicals Corporation
and Novartis Corporation, which are liable for discharges
of hazardous substances at the Ciba-Geigy site, resolve
their natural resource damage liability without the need
for judicial action to avoid the time and expense of litigation.
The representatives have 10 days to respond upon receipt
of the notification, which was sent via certified mail
September 30. Ciba-Geigy's representatives can seek an
amicable resolution and meet with the state within a reasonable
period of time to discuss preliminary assessments of the
companies' liability and appropriate measures to compensate
If Ciba-Geigy's representatives fail to respond in the
initial 10-day timeframe or if settlement discussions do
not prove successful, the state will pursue civil prosecution.
This will result in litigation to recover all natural resource
damages, penalties, costs, interest and other relief to
which the state is legally entitled.
Working to recover compensation on behalf of the residents
of New Jersey for the lost use of natural resources caused
by industrial pollution, the McGreevey Administration has
demonstrated substantial success in addressing natural
resource damage claims. During the first year of the Administration,
recoveries exceeded the total for the six prior years combined.
The state's newly signed policy directive outlines an accelerated
process needed to pursue the thousands of outstanding and
"We have aggressively begun pursuit of settlements
from polluters beyond cleanup work, finally addressing
reparation to the state and its residents for injuries
to our natural resources," said Commissioner Campbell. "An
accelerated effort is needed to ensure that a statute of
limitations for outstanding claims does not expire and
result in the loss of the public's right to compensation."
Natural resource damage is the dollar value of the total
restoration that is necessary to compensate the residents
of New Jersey for the injury to natural resources. Injuries
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 drinking water supply. In addition, restoration
may include compensation for the natural resource services
lost from the beginning of the injury through the full
recovery of the resource.
Ground water injuries are calculated with a formula that
estimates the volume of contaminated ground water, the
value of the water and duration of the injury to arrive
at a settlement amount. New Jersey's Spill Compensation
and Control Act requires any entity that has discharged
hazardous substances onto the land or into the waters of
the state is liable for cleanup and removal costs, as well
as the cost of restoring or replacing natural resources
injured by the discharge.
The Ciba-Geigy site was placed on the National Priorities
List of Superfund sites in 1983 due to extensive soil
and ground water contamination. An on-site ground water
treatment plant began full-scale operation in March 1996.
The plant treats approximately 2.5 million gallons per
day of contaminated ground water with on-site recharge.
Additional cleanup work is underway at the site that calls
for bioremediation of approximately 145,000 cubic yards
of contaminated soils and the excavation and off-site disposal
of about 32,000 drums. Bioremediation of some ground water
and containment of some source areas were also part of
the selected remedy.
The Ciba-Geigy Chemical Corporation site is presently
owned and operated by the Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corporation.
The site encompasses approximately 1,400 acres, 320 of
which are developed, with the remainder consisting of cleared
areas, pine barrens and wetlands. From 1952 to 1990, Ciba-Geigy
manufactured dyes, pigments, resins and epoxy additives.
In 1988, pigments and dyestuffs manufacturing operations
ceased and in December 1990, resins and epoxy manufacturing
ceased. The manufacturing buildings were subsequently demolished.
All commercial operations at the site ceased in December