Comprehensive Study of Passaic River to Cost Companies $37 Million

On May 8, EPA announced an agreement to require 73 companies considered potentially responsible for contaminants in the lower Passaic River to pay for the completion of a comprehensive study of the river.

The agreement, contained in an administrative order on consent (AOC), calls for the parties to complete an ongoing study of contamination in 17 miles of the lower Passaic River and possible cleanup approaches, which is currently being conducted by EPA. Under the agreement, the companies also will pay for EPA's costs in overseeing the study. The cost of the work to be performed under this agreement is estimated at $37 million, plus the costs associated with EPA's oversight.

"This agreement shows that Superfund is working and that polluters are footing the bill for past contamination," said EPA Region 2 Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. "EPA will oversee the comprehensive study, while we continue to consider a variety of early cleanup actions that could be taken well before the long-term study is completed."

The study focuses on a 17-mile stretch of the Passaic River in New Jersey, from the Dundee Dam in Garfield to its confluence with Newark Bay. The ongoing study, formally called a remedial investigation and feasibility study, is examining the nature and extent of contamination in this stretch of river and assessing various alternatives to address the problems. Hazardous waste cleanups and the environmental studies that must precede them are routinely conducted by potentially responsible parties, with EPA oversight, at Superfund sites all across the country. Every step of the work to be performed by the companies will be closely monitored by EPA in consultation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Jersey Department of Transportation, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that all protocols are being met.

This settlement adds 31 companies to a group of companies (referred to as the Cooperating Parties Group) that had previously signed an agreement with EPA to provide the Agency more than $10,750,000 to start the study. The agreement will build on work already performed by EPA and its partners.

For more information about the Passaic River cleanup efforts and a copy of the agreement, visit http://www.epa.gov/region2/passaicriver.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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