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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
"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
"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.
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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