Two Companies To Pay Millions For Cleanup of Contaminated Sites in New Jersey

The federal government has reached separate agreements with NCH Corp. (NCH) and FMC Corp. (FMC) to resolve claims against them relating to the costs of cleanup at the Higgins Farm and Higgins Disposal Superfund sites in Somerset County, N.J. Both companies have agreed to reimburse the federal government for costs incurred cleaning up the contamination found in the soil and groundwater at the sites, officials announced.

As a part of these settlements, NCH will take over operating the groundwater treatment plant that EPA built at the Higgins Farm site, saving the government approximately $12 million in future costs. NCH also agreed to pay EPA more than $2 million to cover past cleanup costs at both sites. FMC agreed to pay EPA almost $17 million, including $14.5 million for EPA's cleanup costs at Higgins Farm. Under an earlier agreement with EPA entered in 2004, FMC constructed and began operating a groundwater treatment plant at the Higgins Disposal site. The U.S. Department of Energy also is paying more than $9 million to cover past and future cleanup costs at both sites.

"The government has spent millions of dollars cleaning up contaminated soil and groundwater at both the Higgins Farm and Higgins Disposal sites," said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We are pleased that (these) settlements help ensure that the government is reimbursed for its work, and we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that hazardous waste sites are cleaned up."

The Higgins Farm Superfund site is located in a rural area along Route 518 in Franklin Township. The site is approximately 75 acres in size and is currently operated as a cattle farm. In March 1989, EPA placed the Higgins Farm site on the National Priorities List (NPL) of the country's most contaminated sites.

The Higgins Disposal Superfund site is located on a 37.6-acre parcel on Laurel Avenue in Franklin Township. From the 1950s to 1985, the site owner operated a waste disposal business including a landfill and waste transfer station. The owner's family currently maintains a residence on the site, an equestrian facility (Hasty Acres Riding Club) and a truck repair shop. In August 1990, EPA placed the Higgins Disposal site on the NPL.

The U.S. Department of Justice lodged both consent decrees on Aug. 9 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The consent decrees will be available at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

More information about the Higgins Disposal site can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/0200359c.htm.

For more information about the Higgins Farm site, go to http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/0201094c.htm.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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