|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced today that legal efforts by the Division of Law resulted in recovery by the State of more than $29 million in environmental clean-up costs during the past fiscal year.
The total amount recovered -- $29,939,907 – represents the most environmental clean-up funding recovered in one fiscal year since the State began tracking it in 1992.
“These cost recoveries are important to New Jersey,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “Cleaning up polluted properties is expensive, and it’s often the case that state government must ‘front’ some or all of the money required to get the job done. Through the Division of Law’s outstanding legal efforts, we have been able to recoup more than $29 million in public dollars spent in the past to rid properties of contamination, and improve the quality of life for New Jersey residents.”
“We are committed to aggressively enforcing New Jersey’s environmental laws, cleaning up polluted properties and dealing as swiftly and decisively as possible with contamination issues that can affect the health and welfare of our residents,’’ said Department of Environmental protection Commissioner Bob Martin. “The bill for these property cleanups should be paid by the parties that caused the contamination, not the taxpayers and residents of our state.’’
According to Attorney General Chiesa, the bulk of the $29.9 million in cost recovery dollars flowed from two major settlements negotiated on behalf of DEP with responsible parties.
One case involved a $15 million settlement with three companies – Honeywell, PPG and Occidental – alleged by the State to be responsible for cleaning up chromium waste at more than 100 industrial sites in Jersey City.
The other case involved a $13-million-plus settlement with more than 200 owners, operators and customers of the contaminated BEMS (Burlington Environmental Management Service) landfill in Southampton, Burlington County. The BEMS site spanned approximately 108 acres in Southampton Township. It was operated as a disposal facility for municipal refuse, industrial waste and septic/sewage sludge from the late 1960's until December 1982. Contaminated runoff from the landfill polluted groundwater resources both on and off the site, and there were other environmental problems as well.
“The pursuit of those responsible for polluting New Jersey’s air, land and water is the mission of our environmental enforcement attorneys,” said Division of Law Director Christopher S. Porrino, “these lawyers consistently produce fantastic results in what are typically difficult and complex cost recovery cases.”
In addition to the Jersey City chromium case and the BEMS matter, other cases in which the Division of Law has recovered clean-up costs on behalf of the State include:
U.S. and State of New Jersey v. Dominick Manzo et. al. v. Monsanto Company:
The DEP filed a federal suit in 1999 under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act against defendants Dominic and Carmella Manzo and Ace-Manzo, Inc. The suit was to recover cleanup and removal costs that DEP incurred in responding to the release, and threatened release, of hazardous substances at the Burnt Fly Bog Superfund Site, located in Marlboro and Old Bridge Townships. The DEP suit followed a similar suit filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1997. The federal and state actions were consolidated into a single action and, in April 2011, a settlement of both the federal and state claims was finalized. The settlement resulted in payment to the State of $863,000 in fiscal year 2012. When added to past sums received under the same settlement, the total paid to New Jersey to date is approximately $1.9 million.
Paulsboro Terminal Settlement: DEP filed a complaint in June 2007 to recover damages resulting from the discharge of hazardous substances at a terminal for the storage of petroleum and other products Paulsboro, Gloucester County. ExxonMobil Corporation, a former owner of the property, is remediating the western portion of the property. Three entities that owned the property after ExxonMobil -- Kinder Morgan Liquids Terminal L.L.C. (formerly known as GATX Terminals Corporation), Support Terminals Operating Partnership LP, and Plains Products Terminals LLC (formerly known as Pacific Atlantic Terminals) -- reached a settlement with DEP. The three settling defendants agreed to pay $1.1 million to DEP, and to take other measures to remediate hazardous substances in soil at the site to well below cleanup standards.