Chromium cleanup goes slow

the agreement reached will take 5 more years

PPG Industries will remediate soil and other sources of chromium contamination on 16.6 acres on Garfield Avenue — the site of a chromite ore refinement plant from 1924 to 1963 — under a partial Superior Court settlement announced by the state’s attorney general and Department of Environmental Protection. The deal will not be finalized until after a 30-day public comment period.

PPG also agreed to complete remediation operations at 13 other contaminated sites in Jersey City, Weehawken and Bayonne, pay $1 million to Jersey City for a park and pay another $250,000 to oversee the settlement plan.

“We are happy the attorney general has approved this settlement, but this is not done. We need to have a public comment period. We have community groups we have to hear from,” said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, whose city was a party to the lawsuit.

The public comment process will begin March 16.

The agreement comes just weeks after the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York and the Interfaith Community Organization of Hoboken filed a federal lawsuit claiming the cleanups were taking too long. PPG has accepted responsibility for 61 chromium-contaminated sites, has remediated 47 of them and has promised to resolve the rest under the settlement.

The highly toxic hexavalent chromium was a byproduct of chromite ore refinement conducted by the predecessors of three companies, Honeywell International, PPG Industries Inc. and Tierra Solutions Inc., between 1895 and until the last plant was closed in 1976. Tons of contaminated industrial waste were distributed as fill for construction sites throughout the county and neighboring Essex County, and by the 1980s, the state recognized about 200 contaminated parcels.

All three companies were sued by the DEP in 2005, after cleanups promised in the 1980s and 1990s failed to materialize. The DEP contends the companies have been individually linked to most of the sites, although there are a number of “orphan” sites for which no company has accepted responsibility and that are still the subject of the lawsuit.

“I grew up in Jersey City and know first hand the frustration felt by people who have had to live with chromium contamination,” acting DEP Commissioner Mark Mauriello said in a prepared statement. “It’s been a long time coming, but this settlement will give residents the peace of mind and better quality of life that comes with a clean, healthier neighborhood.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s