June 12, 2008, Asbury Park Press
State making polluters pay for damaging environment
TRENTON - The state has secured nearly $4 million in damages in the past year as the result of settlements - with companies including Lucent Technologies and Southern Ocean Landfill Inc. - that compensate for damage to natural resources.
Lucent Technologies has agreed to pay a $1.2 million settlement to the state for groundwater contamination at nine sites it owns in Holmdel, Berkeley Heights, Chester, Chester Township, Hanover and Kearny, state Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced Wednesday.
The Department of Environmental Protection files lawsuits known as natural-resource damage claims that seek monetary and land compensation for discharges of hazardous substances and oil spills into ground water, surface water bodies and wetlands, the statement said.
Since June 2007, the DEP's Office of Natural Resource Restoration has resolved claims against 19 parties in connection with pollution at 41 sites.
The DEP uses the money from settlements of the lawsuits for ecological restoration projects in the same watershed where the original resource damage occurred. In negotiating the settlements, the DEP works to preserve land that has high ecological value, particularly land that recharges groundwater supplies, it says.
The major settlements include:
· South Jersey Gas Co. of Folsom in Atlantic County, which agreed to provide a conservation easement on a 149-acre property in Folsom and to provide $549,200 to preserve 159 acres in Buena Vista, Mullica and Oldmans townships. The settled natural resource damage liability resulted from groundwater contamination at a dozen sites of predecessor companies that once derived gas from coal. The coal-gasification facilities were located in Atlantic City, Bridgeton, Egg Harbor City, Glassboro, Hammonton, Millville, Penns Grove, Pleasantville, Vineland and Woolwich.
· The 3M Co. of St. Paul, Minn., which settled a complaint resulting from the disposal of chemical wastes at the Woodland dump sites in Burlington County in the 1950s and 1960s. 3M agreed to pay the state $315,000 for resource damages and is donating 154 acres of woodlands in Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County, as a groundwater recharge area.
· Bayer Corp. of Pittsburgh, successor to Miles Inc., Lanxess and other companies, which agreed to pay $1 million for groundwater pollution at a chemical, plastic and rubber manufacturing plant in Haledon, Passaic County.
Sametta M. Thompson: (732) 888-2619 or firstname.lastname@example.org