Hackensack Riverkeeper, NY/NJ Baykeeper
Place Polluters On Notice Of Intent To Sue
Over Contaminated Discharges To River
Hackensack Riverkeeper and NY/NJ Baykeeper have placed several companies on notice of their intent to sue over pollution discharges at a former industrial site located on the Hackensack River in Kearny, Hudson County, New Jersey.
The notice letter was sent to Standard Chlorine Chemical Co., Beazer East, Inc., Occidental Chemical Corporation, Tierra Solutions, Inc., AG Bayer, and Sybron Chemicals. The environmental groups seek to halt the imminent and substantial endangerment to health and the environment associated with polluted discharges from the site. The intended lawsuit will be brought under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCR”) after the 90-day notice period expires.
“Sampling from the site shows that it is heavily contaminated with many different chemicals, including dioxin, naphthalene, chromium, benzene, PCBs, and various chlorinated benzenes,” said Captain Bill Sheehan, executive director, Hackensack Riverkeeper. “These hazardous wastes are contaminating the Hackensack River and placing human health and the environmental risk.”
The site covers approximately 25 acres of land in an industrial area of Hudson County. Over the years the companies operated various chemical manufacturing and processing facilities at the site, including producing and refining crude naphthalene, storing and packaging 1,4-dichlorobenzene moth preventatives and deodorizers, producing dye carriers, and the processing of liquid petroleum naphthalene for the manufacture of moth balls and flakes. Manufacturing operations at the site ceased around 1993.
“This site has been under an administrative consent order with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection since 1989 to be cleaned up,” said Andrew Willner, NY/NJ Baykeeper. “But here we are, over 15 years later, and the site is still polluting our community’s rivers and bays.” In March of 2003, the United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that it anticipated listing the site on the National Priority List or Superfund within the next few months.
In October of 2003, NJDEP asked EPA not to list the site on the NPL because a cleanup was about to commence under State authority. To date, this cleanup has not yet materialized.
“Off-site sampling and observations indicate that discharges of hazardous substances from the site to the Hackensack River have occurred in the past and are ongoing,” stated Richard Webster, Staff Attorney, Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic. “For instance, NJDEP has issued fish consumption advisories for the Hackensack River due to PCB and dioxin contamination, which is caused in part by releases of such substances from the site.”
The environmental groups intend to file the suit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and will, among other things, ask the Court to order the notices parties to carry out appropriate abatement measures to effectively remedy the current endangerment to health and the environment.
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