Environmentalists File Suit To Clean Up Sediments In Raritan River

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SAYREVILLE—A coalition of environmental groups including the Edison Wetlands Association has filed a federal lawsuit against 11 parties that allegedly violated the Clean Water Act by polluting the Raritan River.

“Unfortunately, we were left with no alternative but to follow through with filing a lawsuit in our efforts to stop ongoing pollution and protect the Raritan River,” said EWA Executive Director Robert Spiegel.  “Our hope is that the parties involved will work with our groups to resolve the issues that threaten the Raritan River Estuary and the families that use it.”

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Terris, Pravlik & Millian, LLP filed the lawsuit on behalf of Edison Wetlands Association, NY/NJ Baykeeper and Raritan Riverkeeper, charging that the defendants violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water Act by polluting the sediments of the Raritan River from the National Lead site and nearby highways in Sayreville.  The filing seeks to stop the discharge of pollutants and remediate sediments that present a risk to human health and the environment.

The lawsuit was filed against NL Industries, Inc. (NYSE:NL); NL Environmental Management Services, Inc.; Sayreville Economic and Redevelopment Agency; O’Neill Properties Group; Sayreville Seaport Associates; Middlesex County; the Turnpike Authority; and New Jersey Department of Transportation.

“For too long National Lead has ignored its responsibility to clean up the Raritan River,” said Executive Director Deborah Mans of NY/NJ Baykeeeper.  “It is time to return the river to the community so we all can have a safe place to recreate, fish and crab.”

The 400-acre National Lead site is surrounded on three sides by the RaritanRiver, including the high-traffic crossings of the Garden State Parkway, Route 9 and Route 35.  Operating between 1935 and 1982, NL manufactured titanium dioxide pigments and sulfuric acid onsite.  Among the many contaminants on the property are heavy metals, radiologicals, and acids.

“The lawsuit alleges that the contamination in the Raritan River sediments presents an imminent and substantial endangerment to health and the environment and that pollutants have been discharged into the river in violation of federal law.  Although the extent of the contamination has been known for years, nothing has been done to clean up the sediments,” said Janice Gorin of Terris, Pravlik & Millian.

Additionally, the violation of the state’s general highway permit by NJDOT is a violation of the Clean Water Act that has resulted, and continues to result, in sediment contamination in the vicinity of the site, the environmentalists said.

“This site has been causing harm to the Raritan River and its inhabitants for decades,” Bill Schultz of Raritan Riverkeeper explained.  “It is about time for the bleeding of toxins from this site to the river to stop.  All these materials need to be removed and properly dealt with.”


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