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Sierra Club Asks for Investigation of Polluter Games

Date : Thu, 11 Apr 2013 11:46:01 -0400

For Immediate Release
March 25, 2013 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100 <tel:609-558-9100>

Sierra Club Asks for Investigation of Polluter Games

70 companies potentially responsible for the cleanup of dioxin in the Passaic River have been offering grants to local officials and community groups.Grant recipients and potential grant recipients have sent letters to the EPA opposing their more protective cleanup plan in favor or a weaker, cheaper plan proposed by the companies. This less protective cleanup plan would continue to put the local environment and public health at risk.This area is highly contaminated with PCBs, mercury, and dioxin which pose risks to both human health and the marine ecosystem. Especially troubling is that these companies are holding meetings on their weaker plan and at those sessions announcing the grants to fund local projects for municipal officials and community leaders./The Star Ledger/ has reported that grant applications were even distributed at some meetings.^^[1] <#_ftn1>The New Jersey Sierra Club sent in a request to New Jersey Comptroller Matt Boxer and US Attorney Paul Fishman for further review of the matter and to ensure no undue influence is being used to circumvent the public process and the cleanup process is not being tampered with by the responsible parties.

"We are deeply troubled by the games that are being played with the Passaic River cleanup.This is one of the most toxic sites anywhere in the nation and has to be cleaned up properly.We are asking for an investigation because we are concerned about the inference in the cleanup of toxins in the Passaic river.Dioxin in the Newark Bay has created severe health impacts and these parties are trying to play politics and use undue influence while offering grant money to try to prevent the proper cleanup of the Passaic River and Bay,"*said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "*This deal smells worse than the Passaic Valley Sewer plant on a hot summer day." There is removal and disposal currently underway of dioxin-contaminated sediment and debris in the area of the River located next to the Diamond Alkali Superfund Site. The Diamond Alkali plant manufactured pesticides, weed killers, and Agent Orange, the defoliant used during the Vietnam War. The process of making Agent Orange asked for large quantities of dioxin. Dioxin is one of the most deadly substances known to man that bio accumulates in people and is known to be the most carcinogenic. Dioxin is an extremely harmful substance not only to humans, but to the ecosystem as well. The dioxin in the River and Newark Bay has caused fish advisories in New Jersey all the way down to Florida and up in Maine.

"Polluters in the Passaic River have left a toxic mess from Newark to Vietnam, from Maine to Florida.This toxic nightmare has to end and this site needs to be cleaned up. We are not going to let those responsible try to buy their way out with politics and grants, using undue influence to prevent a real clean up," said Jeff Tittel. Under both state and federal law companies that discharge toxic chemicals into the environment that cause a loss of public use are assessed with Natural Resource Damages. The public fisheries, aquatic ecosystems, wetlands, rivers, and estuaries belong to all of us. When a company contaminates and prevents the use of that resource they have to pay damages. Since this site has contaminated the river, bay, impacted fisheries up and down the east coast that loss of resources and damages is quite substantial.

"What they are trying to do is outrageous.They are trying to tamper with the Superfund program and let themselves off the hook while the public will still suffer from toxic pollution.What they are doing is wrong and directly affects the public health and safety, not just in New Jersey. These polluters are trying to buy support so they won't have to clean up their mess and interfere with the Superfund process," said Jeff Tittel.

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[1] <#_ftnref1> Hutchins, Ryan. "70 firms devise strategy to quash EPA's plans for Passaic River cleanup". _The Star Ledger_. Mar 24 2013. http:www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/03/passaic_river_cleanup_epa_plan.html<a>

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2013-04-11 08:46:01

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
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