Several years ago, New Jersey filed suit against Occidental Chemical Corporation, Maxus Energy Corporation and Tierra Solutions, Inc., alleging they intentionally discharged dioxin – an extremely dangerous, cancer-causing chemical – and other contaminants into the Passaic River. New Jersey also ordered the three companies to pay the state $2.3 million to develop a plan to dredge contaminated sediments in a six-mile stretch of the Lower Passaic River that includes a portion of Essex and Hudson counties near Newark, Harrison, East Newark and Kearny.
In turn, the companies are suing the municipalities along the Passaic River because most, if not all, dumped sewage into the river for many years before state and federal laws clamped down on the practice.
“We always knew when the moment came and we brought the hammer down on them, they would try and drag in all the others,” he said. “It is cheaper for them to stretch this out for another 20 years than to clean it up.”
Although the original Superfund site only affected a six-mile stretch along the Passaic River and tip of Newark Bay, tidal flow has spread it up the Hackensack River through Jersey City to Secaucus and the length of Newark Bay into the various waterways along Bayonne, Staten Island and Elizabeth.
The cost of cleanup from the contaminated site is estimated from $1 billion to $4 billion, according to published accounts.