TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced today that legal efforts by the Division of Law resulted in recovery by the state of more than $29 million in environmental clean-up costs during the past fiscal year.
The total amount recovered, $29,939,907, represents the most environmental clean-up funding recovered in one fiscal year since the state began tracking it in 1992.
“These cost recoveries are important to New Jersey,” said Chiesa. “Cleaning up polluted properties is expensive, and it’s often the case that state government must ‘front’ some or all of the money required to get the job done. Through the Division of Law’s outstanding legal efforts, we have been able to recoup more than $29 million in public dollars spent in the past to rid properties of contamination, and improve the quality of life for New Jersey residents.”
“We are committed to aggressively enforcing New Jersey’s environmental laws, cleaning up polluted properties and dealing as swiftly and decisively as possible with contamination issues that can affect the health and welfare of our residents,’’ said Martin. “The bill for those cleanups should be paid by the parties that caused the contamination, not the taxpayers and residents of our state.”
According to Chiesa, the bulk of the $29.9 million in cost recovery dollars flowed from two major settlements negotiated on behalf of DEP with responsible parties.
One case involved a $15 million settlement with three companies – Honeywell, PPG and Occidental – alleged by the state to be responsible for cleaning up chromium waste at more than 100 industrial sites in Jersey City.
The other involved a $13-million-plus settlement with more than 200 owners, operators and customers of the contaminated BEMS (Burlington Environmental Management Service) landfill in Southampton, Burlington County. The BEMS site spanned approximately 108 acres in Southampton Township. It was operated as a disposal facility for municipal refuse, industrial waste and septic/sewage sludge from the late 1960s until December 1982. Contaminated runoff from the landfill polluted groundwater resources both on and off the site, and there were other environmental problems as well.
“The pursuit of those responsible for polluting New Jersey’s air, land and water is the mission of our environmental enforcement attorneys,” said Division of Law Director Christopher S. Porrino. “Our lawyers consistently produce fantastic results in these very difficult and complex cost recovery cases.”