DEP Issues Enforcement Directives Against Three Companies
To Compel Cleanup
Action Supports State Brownfield Redevelopment Area Initiative
(03/165) Trenton-- New
Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner
Bradley M. Campbell today announced enforcement actions
against three companies refusing to meet their cleanup obligations
in state designated Brownfield Development Areas located
in Camden, Trenton and Elizabeth targeted for priority smart
"The contamination left by commercial
operations at these three sites has not only created environmental
risks, but also stymied revitalization efforts in the surrounding
communities," said Commissioner Campbell. "We
will not allow the burden to be shifted from polluters to
communities whose residents have had to live with brownfield
sites for decades."
The three enforcement directives require
each company to either participate in or pay for remediation
of their respective site. In Camden, DEP issued a directive
against Knox Family Inc., which DEP alleges is responsible
for remediation of the Knox Gelatin site. In Trenton, DEP
issued a directive against Exide Corporation, which DEP
alleges is responsible for remediation of the Magic Marker
site. In Elizabeth, DEP issued a directive against Exact
Anodizing Company, which DEP alleges is responsible for
remediation of the Exact Anodizing site. Failure to comply
with the directives could result in significant penalties.
"We would prefer to work voluntarily
with liable companies, but the state is prepared to enforce
its remediation requirements when there is a lack of cooperation,"
said Commissioner Campbell. "The Brownfield Development
Area program creates a new opportunity for neighborhoods
that are devoting their time and energy to making their
communities a better place to live. We are going to make
sure that these companies now step forward to meet the needs
of the communities."
Commissioner Campbell noted that the directives
announced today are the first actions against companies
who refuse to participate voluntarily in remediating properties
included in the state's Brownfield Development Area program
since it was launched in 2002. The program is designed to
assist neighborhoods impacted by multiple brownfield sites
and encourage smart growth. Community-based steering committees
propose "clusters" of closely spaced brownfield
sites to DEP for coordinated oversight of the remedial process.
By helping to revitalize communities in
urban areas, the Brownfield Development Area program is
an important component of Governor James E. McGreevey's
smart growth initiative. Communities in Camden, Elizabeth,
Hillside, Irvington, Newark, Palmyra and Trenton are now
working through this process.
DEP works with the state's Economic Development
Authority and Department of Community Affairs and other
federal, state and local partners, to help guide communities
through a comprehensive and coordinated cleanup and reuse
process within Brownfield Development Areas. Community-based
plans for reuse can include a wide range of options including
commercial, industrial, residential, park and open space
As one component of its assistance to help
spur progress in Brownfield Development Areas, DEP identifies
companies that are legally responsible for addressing contamination
on properties within the designated areas. These can include
past industrial owners and operators of the properties,
or other companies that dumped wastes on the properties.
DEP gives the responsible parties an opportunity to participate
voluntarily in fulfilling their environmental obligations.
Many responsible companies have accepted this invitation.
"The City of Camden is encouraged
by the actions of Commissioner Campbell to assist the residents
of Camden, through the Brownfield Development Area initiative,
in bringing the parties that used the land to
the table to make the land usable for Camden's future,"
said Camden Mayor Gwendolyn Faison. "We encourage these
firms to participate with Camden in the reuse of their former
property, but sometimes some folks need to be 'encouraged'
by strong actions. I am pleased to see that Commissioner
Campbell has directed that some strong 'encouragement' will
be given to those who have not yet come forward."
"DEP has taken a major step in issuing
this directive," said Mayor Chris Bollwage. "The
Brownfield Development Area effort in Elizabeth Port helped
engage several responsible parties in the process to remediate
these sites. However, when a responsible party doesn't commit
to clean up its past contamination and do the right thing,
it's important for DEP to take enforcement action to bring
them to the table."
"We urge the companies responsible
for these environmental hazards to step up and work with
DEP to address these issues," Trenton Mayor Douglas
H. Palmer said. "It really is 'better late than never'
in terms of the cleanup work that is needed at Magic Marker
and other brownfield sites in our city. At the same time,
we hope DEP will prosecute to the fullest extent of the
law those entities, such as Exide, that are failing to assume
Brownfield sites are properties that are
known or suspected to be contaminated from past industrial
or commercial uses. Fear of liability for environmental
cleanup has caused developers and companies to avoid these
properties, leaving them abandoned or severely underused.
DEP estimates that there may be as many
as 10,000 brownfields in New Jersey. These abandoned, contaminated
properties can have a devastating impact on their surrounding
communities by contributing to urban decay, impairing tax
bases and preventing new beneficial development. This impact
is particularly severe where there are several brownfield
sites in one neighborhood, creating a cumulative impact
that chills revitalization.