Honeywell Loses Bid To Reduce
Scope Of Chromium Cleanup
Even after Honeywell International’s court-ordered cleanup of 34 acres of chromium-contaminated land on the Hackensack River in Jersey City was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, the transnational corporation refused to admit defeat. In October of last year, Honeywell went before federal district Judge Dennis Cavanaugh - the author of the original decision - in an attempt to have its cleanup liability reduced by half.
The reason for this unusual request was that an expert witness in the original case - Kirk Brown, former Texas A&M University professor and current Honeywell employee - announced that he had “changed his mind” about how much cancer-causing contamination should be removed. In 2003, he maintained that all 1.5 million tons needed to be removed to make the area safe but, by 2005, he claimed that 750,000 tons could remain.
Needless to say, both Judge Cavanaugh and we at Hackensack Riverkeeper were not amused by these last-second maneuverings; after all, we were the ones who sued (and won) and the judge’s decision had been upheld twice. Nonetheless, the judge took the unprecedented step of re-reviewing the facts of the case and taking into account Brown’s new assertions. Then in January, Judge Cavanaugh announced that he would not vacate any portion of his original judgment and summarily ordered Honeywell to conduct a thorough and complete cleanup, scheduled to begin on April 3. The company has appealed the disqualifications.
According to a report in the New York Times, any further delay “pushes Honeywell closer to the point where it will have spent so much time and money preparing for full excavation that capping it no longer makes sense,” having already spent more than $60 million on the cleanup.
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