EPA Blocks Hackensack Riverkeeper’s Suit Against Occidental Chemical
In the Fall 2003 issue of Hackensack Tidelines, our cover story was about the Notice of Intent to Sue filed against Occidental Chemical Corporation and Tierra Solutions by Hackensack Riverkeeper, NY/NJ Baykeeper, and NRDC for the dioxin pollution on the lower Passaic River. On Friday, Feb. 13, (exactly 85 days into the 90-day grace period), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took action to attempt to block our lawsuit. Having completely ignored dioxin contamination in Newark Bay for over a decade, the EPA issued an administrative consent order (ACO), under CERCLA, the federal Superfund law. This ACO effectively allows Tierra Solutions to devise their own cleanup plan. Andy Willner from NY/NJ Baykeeper points out that, “One of the big ironies here is that on one hand, the Bush administration is allowing Superfund to go bankrupt and die-- something that neither Ronald Reagan nor George Bush Sr. ever did--and yet, on the other hand, here is the Bush EPA using Superfund law to shield a polluter from a citizen suit.”
Bus Bust Follow-up
In our Summer 2003 issue of Hackensack Tidelines, we reported a successful interception of a bus driver in the process of flushing his holding tanks into a storm drain behind the Red Roof Inn. After staking out the hotel, investigators from the Division of Criminal Justice reencountered the bus and found that the driver had only emptied his non-potable water tank, not his sewage tank. Dumping non-potable water is not a criminal offense but a regulatory violation, so this incident was transferred to the NJDEP for enforcement.
Captains Bill Sheehan and Hugh Carola probably prevented the driver from dumping sewage into the river that day, but the story becomes more complicated. Raw sewage was identified in the storm drain at the time of the incident but apparently it did not come from this particular bus. After the incident, two witnesses told Captain Bill that they saw a different bus dumping its sewage water in the same storm drain earlier that day. The Division of Criminal Justice spoke to the management of the Red Roof Inn and encouraged them to install a barrier on the storm drain to deter offenders in the future.
This situation was discovered because of people noticing what was going on and responding appropriately. Please, if you see any similar behavior, or in any way suspect illegitimate handling of our waterways call our WATERSHED WATCH HOTLINE at 877-CPT-BILL! We all must be continually vigilant to protect our waterways.
NJMC Employees Cause Big Problems for Polluters
The NJ Division of Criminal Justice launched a full-scale investigation of the Tunnel Barrel and Drum Company of Carlstadt last year after two New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) employees witnessed and reported an illegal discharge of wastewater into the Hackensack River. As a result of the investigation, the president of the company, Anthony Urcioli, will pay a $25,000 fine to the Clean Water Enforcement Fund and $10,000 to Hackensack Riverkeeper so we may continue to conduct educational and river stewardship programs. Urcioli will also serve two years probation.
Additionally, after two NJMC conservation officers investigated reports of tire dumping in Moonachie and Rutherford, the Division of Criminal Justice obtained a State Grand Jury indictment on Dec. 3, 2003 against Ellsworth Baily and Bruce Hargrove who had illegally dumped hundreds of tires in the Meadowlands.
Our hats go off to these individuals at the NJMC for their commitment to preserving and restoring our watershed.
NJDEP Enforcement Officers Respond Quickly to Reports of Suspicious Activity
We are all concerned when we see pipes strung haphazardly through trees toward streams, or foul liquid being pumped from buildings into storm-drains, or storm-drains overflowing with raw sewage, etc. Reports of pollution incidents often come into our office through our Watershed Watch Hotline (877-CPT-BILL) or through personal interactions with citizens who relay stories to our staff when they encounter us in the field. Hackensack Riverkeeper takes these reports very seriously and relays them to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection – Bureau of Northern Enforcement.
In 2003 NJDEP Enforcement Officers in Bergen and Hudson Counties served 20 Notices of Violation (NOVs) in our watershed, many of which were in response to issues that our supporters and staff noticed and reported. These NOVs consisted of unauthorized discharges of pollutants including sediment, bleach, grease, petroleum, detergent, solid waste, soapy wastewater, photo equipment wastewater, and antifreeze directly into the river or storm drains, or onto the banks of the river where it might flow into the waterway during the next storm. If you see something, say something! Rest assured that Hackensack Riverkeeper and the NJDEP Enforcement Team will not tolerate using our waterways as sewers.
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