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Pascrell Hails Landmark Effort to Restore Lower Passaic River

Press Release

Location: Newark, NJ



U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today joined with Congressional colleagues, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to announce the beginning of a long-awaited effort to remove a major source of contamination from the Lower Passaic River.

"I am pleased that through all of our efforts the EPA has finally been able to strike this landmark agreement with the major polluter of the Passaic River," stated Pascrell. "Once this cleanup effort begins, our region will start to realize the powerful economic, environmental and recreational benefits of the Passaic River has to offer. As long as we continue keeping the pressure on the government and polluters alike, I am confident that the Lower Passaic River will one day return to its glory and again serve as the proud centerpiece for towns throughout Hudson, Essex, Bergen and Passaic counties."

The Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) reached between the EPA and Occidental Chemical Corporation will require the removal of 20,000 cubic yards of dioxin-laden sediment that lies in the direct vicinity of the Diamond Alkali Superfund site in downtown Newark. Removing the contamination will eliminate the potential future threat that the contamination could pose to people's health and the environment. The work will cost an estimated $80 million and be completed in two phases; the first phase dedicated to the removal of 40,000 cubic yards highly contaminated sediment and the second committed to approximately 160,000 cubic yards of sediment with lower concentrations of dioxin.

"Importantly, this action is being undertaken in a cooperative manner between the public and private sectors, demonstrating the benefits of working together to avoid the type of divisive litigation that can be so costly and ineffective. The AOC being announced today is further evidence that the Passaic River Restoration Project is insuring that public and private resources are being devoted to productive clean-up and restoration activities," continued Pascrell.

Pascrell, a former member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, is the long time congressional champion of the restoration effort. He has secured $2.9 million in federal funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to study the 17 mile stretch of the river from the Dundee Dam to the Newark Bay known as the Lower Passaic River. The clean-up effort announced today will be conducted in concert with this ongoing comprehensive study Pascrell authorized in 2000. Pascrell also brought the federal and state officials together to announce a cost-sharing deal for the study in 2003. Recently, Pascrell hosted an event on Capitol Hill where EPA Administrator Steinberg was able to brief the New Jersey delegation on plans to remediate the river.

Noting the indemnification of the municipalities and the PVSC from possible contribution to this action, Pascrell concluded, "In addition to reinvigorating this incredible natural resource, today's agreement will protect ratepayers in dozens of northern New Jersey towns from having to help finance this action. I am encouraged by this deal and hope that it serves as an example for other potentially responsible parties to join in restoring this historic river for the good of the region."

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