-- Attorney General Anne Milgram and Acting
Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner
Mark N. Mauriello announced today that the
state has entered into a settlement agreement
through which it will be paid $43 million
to settle cost recovery and natural resource
damage (NRD) claims associated with the
Combe Fill South Landfill, a federal Superfund
site in Morris County.
Under terms of the settlement, more than
200 defendants within two months will pay
the state a total of about $12.7 million
to cover New Jersey’s past remediation-related
costs at Combe South. In addition, the defendants
will pay the state approximately $3.2 million
in natural resource damages related to groundwater,
surface water and wetlands contamination.
The payments are due no later than 60 days
after the entry by a federal court of a
Consent Decree memorializing the settlement.
In addition, under the agreement, the defendants
will pay the state another $27 million in
future remediation costs over a 30-year
DEP previously recovered $2.1 million in
prior partial settlements with individual
defendants and other parties.
Located in rural Washington and Chester
Townships, Combe Fill South operated for
decades as a landfill that accepted industrial
wastes, sewage sludge, septic tank wastes,
chemicals and waste oils. In the early 1980s,
the landfill was placed on the National
Priorities List (Superfund) after a DEP
investigation found significant levels of
hazardous substances, specifically volatile
organic compounds, in ground water and surface
water at the site.
settlement is important for the residents
of New Jersey and for our environment,”
said Attorney General Milgram. “Through
this agreement, we are recovering costs
incurred by the state to protect our citizens
from one of the nation’s most contaminated
landfill sites, and obtaining compensation
for damage done to natural resources.”
The settlement announced today resolves
lawsuits filed by the DEP and the federal
Environmental Protection Agency in 1998
against parties suspected of contaminating
the Combe Fill South Landfill. Under the
settlement, EPA will receive $56 million
in past remediation-related costs.
The filing of lawsuits by DEP and EPA followed
years of remediation-related work by both
agencies to address extensive groundwater
and surface water contamination at the site.
Among the contaminants found in the ground
and surface waters were benzene, ethylbenzene,
toluene and chlorethane.
In 1986, the EPA issued a Record of Decision
announcing as the remedy a landfill cap
and a pump-and-treat system to treat contaminated
groundwater in the shallow aquifer at the
site. Both the landfill cap and pump-and-treat
system have been constructed, and the site
is approximately one-third of the way through
a 30-year operation-and-maintenance period.
A second remedial investigation is currently
under way to determine the extent of contamination
in the ground water in the deep aquifer.
Under the settlement Consent Decree, defendants
in the case are categorized in various groups
including waste management entities, direct
and third-party industrial and commercial
waste generators, waste transporters and
local and state government entities.
Deputy Attorney General Mary Ellen Halloran,
assigned to the Division of Law, handled
the Combe Fill South Landfill matter on
behalf of the state. Extensive litigation
support was provided by Edward Putnam, Jesse
Robbins and Paula Walshe of the DEP’s
Division of Site Remediation.
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