Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin announced yesterday that Occidental Chemical Corp. has agreed to pay the State $190 million to resolve its liability for past cleanup and removal costs, natural resource damages and other costs and damages related to contamination of the Passaic River.
The Occidental agreement represents a proposed settlement, and is subject to a public comment period and review by a Superior Court Judge. Should the settlement be approved, it will bring to $355.4 million the total amount recovered by New Jersey as a result of the Passaic River litigation. Among other terms, the proposed Occidental settlement calls for $50 million of the company’s payment to be used for natural resource restoration projects in and around the Newark Bay Complex.
“If approved, this is an important legal outcome for the residents of New Jersey, and for our environment,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “The citizens of our state should not be forced to shoulder the cost of repairing damage to one of our most precious natural resources – the Passaic River – by industrial polluters. Our objective throughout the Passaic River litigation has been to hold accountable those legally responsible for contaminating the river, and we have done so.”
“The cleanup of the lower Passaic River is vital to the health and safety of people who live and work along the river, and is one of the State’s top environmental priorities,” Commissioner Martin said. “The parties responsible for the pollution should be accountable for the expense of the remediation, and not the taxpayers of our state. We have stood firm in that commitment and strongly support the settlement being announced yesterday.”
Occidental is the legal successor to Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Company, and the lone remaining defendant sued by the State over contamination of the Passaic River that had yet to settle.