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Passaic River Cleanup Continues

Date : Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM


For Immediate Release

August 7, 2013

Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Passaic River Cleanup Continues

Today the EPA announced that a new phase of cleanup for the Passaic River is underway. 20,000 cubic yards of contaminated muds and sediments will be removed from a half-mile section of the River in Lyndhurst. Work will take place near the Riverside County Park North, making the area safer for recreation. The sediments contain dioxins, PCBs, mercury and other toxins, impacting the local community for far too long. Dioxin is an extremely harmful chemical and has been dumped into the Passaic River. This contamination poses risks to both human health and the marine ecosystem and needs to be fully removed. 70 companies responsible for the pollution will pay for the $20 million cleanup while EPA provides oversight.

"This is another important step forward in cleaning up the Passaic River which is long overdue. There is still not a complete cleanup plan for the river and every year more dioxin enters the River and Newark Bay. We are glad more cleanup activities are taking place but we still have a long way to go," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

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.

This good news for the Passaic River comes after Gov. Christie and the Legislature diverted $40 million from cleanup funding as part of the FY2014 budget. The money came from the settlement of litigation.

"This is especially important since the Governor is diverting $40 million in cleanup monies for the state budget," said Jeff Tittel. "$40 million is going into the general funds instead of helping the people in Newark or along the Passaic River affected by this toxic pollution."

The Lyndhurst site is in addition to current work underway at the Diamond Alkali Superfund Site, where dioxin-contaminated sediment and debris is currently being removed and disposed. 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.

"People of Newark and along the Passaic River had to live with this horrific toxic pollution for far too long. Any money coming into the state should go to benefiting the people impacted by the site. The money should be used for health studies, to create parks, cleaning up contaminated sites, planting trees, bike paths and access to water ways. This money should be going to benefit them not balancing the budget," said 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.

"Pollution from this plant has gone on for far too long. This is a sell out and not enough money to do what is supposed to be done. The Agent Orange from this plant not only hurt people and destroyed the environment in Vietnam, but people here in Newark. This cleanup is critical and needs funding to be done thoroughly and properly to improving the health of residents and the environment surrounding the Passaic River and Newark Bay.
$40 million does not make up for the impact of the people of Newark," said Tittel.

Something that was used during the Vietnam War is still affecting our health and our environment today. This cleanup has to happen and determining liability is important to achieving a comprehensive clean up of the Passaic River and the Newark Bay. We thank the DEP for stepping up and having the responsible parties pay for the cleanup.

"When will the polluters be held responsible and when will the nightmare be over” When will the River that belongs to all of us be returned to people?" asked Tittel.

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Received on 2013-08-07 07:20:00

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
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