Department of Environmental Protection

October 28, 2013

State: We'll 'virtually eliminate' smells at Roxbury landfill

Source:, October 24, 2013
By: Louis C. Hochman

State officials say they expect to be able to “virtually eliminate” the foul odors that reach for miles beyond the Fenimore landfill site eventually — but they haven’t yet finalized a plan to do so.

In a fact sheet the state Department of Environmental Protection provided to Roxbury officials this week, the agency said its current short-term work at the landfill site should “significantly reduce” odors from hydrogen sulfide, the compound blamed for a rotten egg-like stench that many residents say have been making people stick for the last year.

The DEP has contracted with an engineering firm to come up with a long-term solution for the site, which will be reviewed with Roxbury officials before being finalized, it said.

But it once again rejected an idea pushed by Roxbury officials and local activists — to excavate and truck out construction debris brought to the site over the last year, the source of the hydrogen sulfide.

Digging up the site could release so much gas at uncontrolled rates residents could have to be removed from homes and schools, the DEP said.

The Roxbury Environmental Action Coalition, formed to address issues around the landfill, has rejected that assertion, saying the material could be removed carefully, in stages. And township officials have urged the DEP to use federal funds intended for Sandy relief to pay the estimated $53 million cost of removing the material, as much of the construction debris came from buildings damaged by the storm.…

June 14, 2013

Companies to pay NJ in River Pollution Case

Read here about the millions of dollars that New Jersey will receive from several companies to settle the Passaic River pollution case.…

May 1, 2013

FL Water Pollution Bill Up for Vote

Read here about a water pollution bill that is up for vote in Florida.…

March 28, 2013

NJ Court Allows Environmental Rules to be Waived

Read here about an appeals court in New Jersey that ruled that the state is within its rights to waive its own rules on request.


March 21, 2013

PA Drillers Encouraged to Use Coal Mine Water for Fracking

Read here about drillers in Pennsylvania being encouraged to use coal mine water for fracking.…

March 7, 2013

N.J. DEP: New privatized toxic-site-cleanup program clears cases faster

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, March 4, 2013
Posted on:

For almost 50 years, trucks drove in and out of Monmouth Petroleum in North Jersey, filling up with heating oil for home delivery. But leaks and abandoned storage tanks left the site contaminated, another spoiled property in a state filled with shuttered industrial sites.

Now, a developer is building an apartment complex on the Manalapan Township site — a plan that New Jersey environmental officials say might have taken years longer, or never happened, if not for the state’s new privatized cleanup program.

“The numbers are increasing, and, anecdotally, what we’re seeing is the simpler cases are moving much faster,” said Ken Kloo, director of remediation management for the state Department of Environmental Protection. “It’s freed us up for the higher-priority cases, those where . . . potential human exposure is our highest priority.”

Since the state began in 2009 handing off day-to-day control of environmental cleanup to the private sector, the monthly rate of completed cases has risen almost 30 percent compared to the two years before the program began, according to data provided by the DEP.

But as the process accelerates, environmentalists worry that without direct state oversight, lands on which people could one day live and play are not being cleaned up to state standards and could present a public health risk.

Bill Wolfe, a former DEP official and frequent critic of the agency, said allowing environmental-cleanup firms, which are often paid by the polluters, to police themselves would inevitably lead to shortcuts.…

March 1, 2013

Resolution may be near for towns, companies dragged into massive N.J. pollution case

Source:, February 25, 2013
By: Ryan Hutchins/The Star-Ledger


A resolution may be near for scores of towns, public authorities and corporations that were dragged into one of the costliest hazardous waste cases in United States history. The case involves pollution in the Passaic River, which is shown shown in this 2011 file photo.
Andre Malok/The Star-Ledger

A resolution may be near for scores of towns, public authorities and corporations that were dragged into one of the costliest hazardous waste cases in U.S. history.

A confidential proposal, a copy of which was provided to The Star-Ledger, would allow towns to extricate themselves from the case, involving Passaic River pollution, that has lingered eight years at a cost of tens of millions of dollars in legal fees.

The case being decided in state Superior Court has its roots in the 1950s and ‘60s, when the now-defunct Diamond Shamrock Chemicals of Newark dumped cancer-causing toxins — a byproduct of the Agent Orange it made for the military during the Vietnam War — into the river that slices through the cities and suburbs of northern New Jersey.

Two companies that succeeded Diamond Shamrock and faced a billion-dollar lawsuit over cleanup costs filed a countersuit in 2009. They claimed towns and other entities were responsible for other pollutants in the river and surrounding waterways and should help shoulder the expense.…

February 28, 2013

Report: Deal May Be Near in Passaic River Cleanup Suit

Source: Newark Patch, February 26, 2013
By: Paul Milo

A deal has been proposed that would free Newark and dozens of other communities, corporations and government authorities from liability in a lawsuit over Passaic River contamination, The Star-Ledger reported Monday.

The paper obtained a copy of the confidential proposal, which would allow the towns and agencies to settle the suit by paying $95,000 each, funds the communities could provide by foregoing state aid. Businesses would pay $195,000.

The suit had its origins in 2005, when the successors to Diamond Shamrock — a Lister Avenue firm that manufactured the highly toxic defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War — was sued by the state Department of Environmental Protection over Passaic River cleanup costs. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is now in the process of removing contaminated sediment from the section of the river near the site, a project expected to cost billions.

Shamrock’s successors filed a countersuit in 2009, accusing hundreds of entities along the waterway of contributing to the pollution in the river. Those communities, businesses and agencies, including the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, could collectively face millions in legal fees connected to the suit, the paper reported.

News of the deal comes as lawmakers work on legislation that would get public entities off the hook altogether. In January, a bill that would effectively exempt municipal governments and sewerage authorities from the suit advanced in the state Assembly.…

February 18, 2013

EPA promises decision on Ringwood Superfund cleanup

Source: The Record (Hackensack, NJ), February 12, 2013
Posted on:

Top federal environmental officials reassured about two dozen Upper Ringwood residents on Monday night that the cleanup of the 500-acre Superfund site in their community is a priority, but some remained skeptical and asked for a government buyout.

Mathy Stanislaus, the assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, promised that a federal panel would review cleanup options by as early as May and that the agency would make a decision at year’s end.

“My assurance is that your concerns are being taken seriously,” Stanislaus said at a public meeting at the Church of the Good Shepherd. “I am not here to put on a show. We’re going to make a decision based on integrity and public health.”

Stanislaus acknowledged the repeated botched cleanups at the site where the Ford Motor Co. dumped paint sludge and industrial waste in the late 1960s. The pollution — millions of gallons of paint sludge — was generated by a manufacturing plant Ford operated at the time in Mahwah.

But residents said they were running out of time — one woman said she is suffering from a terminal illness — and would prefer that Ford buy their properties so they can relocate away from exposure to lead, arsenic and other contaminants rather than wait years for a full cleanup.

“I’ve heard this song and dance for 35 years,” said Vanessa Spann, who said she is trying to sell her home but can’t get an assessment — despite calling six banks — because she lives in a Superfund site. She said she suffered from terminal “pulmonary problems,” and lost her son and several relatives to cancer years ago.…

February 8, 2013

Cleanup Begins in Paint-Polluted Torne Valley

Source: Rockland County Times (NY), February 7, 2013
By: Michael Riconda

After decades of problems in the Torne Valley due to contamination from the dumping of paint sludge, the Ford Motor Company finally begun hazardous waste cleanup near the Ramapo River on January 28.

Cleanup was initiated last Monday, focusing upon Operable Unit 1 (OU1), a well field and top priority among three operable units. OU1’s cleanup is expected to conclude around May 15.

Initial construction consists of the preliminary construction of a road and lay down table to prepare for the actual collection, screening, and removal of paint sludge which had been dumped in the area when the Ford Motor Company owned a plant in Mahwah from 1965 to 1980.

Cornell Cooperative Extension environmental educator and restoration consultant Chuck Stead said that the restoration will not only replace native plants and trees, but will also include a Native American medicine garden in a reconciliation effort between Ford Motors and the Ramapo Indian Nation, one of the main groups affected by the pollution.

“Ford’s got a terrible, tenacious, and conflicted relationship with the Ramapo nation, given what happened up in Ringwood,” Stead explained. “This is the first step towards creating some sort of healing around that relationship.”

The cleanup was a result not of the lawsuits which had been leveled against Ford over the health effects of the sludge, but of ongoing activism, research, and negotiations. Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence negotiated the matter with Ford Motors and obtained a full cleanup agreement without litigation.

Stead stated that with luck, the progress will set a precedent for other areas affected by paint sludge, including Ringwood, New Jersey, which was contaminated by tainted Mahwah River water.

“With painstaking and relentless negotiation, you can get this done without going to court,” Stead explained.

The Ford plant boasted of being the nation’s largest when it opened in 1955, but for several years they were not a friendly neighbor, infecting the region with the sludge. Finally, generations later, the company is cleaning up its mess.