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June 2004

State of New Jersey Files Ten Natural Resource Damage Suits

Trenton, NJ— Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Environmental Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell announced the filing of 10 natural resource damage complaints, representing the first round in an unprecedented initiative to make polluters compensate the residents of New Jersey for damage to or loss of natural resources due to pollution.

The suits target companies alleged to have polluted 12 sites in 9 counties.

The McGreevey Administration has negotiated more natural resource damage (NRD) compensation from polluters in 2 1/2 years than was obtained during the previous 10-year history of the NRD program in New Jersey.

“My administration is holding polluters accountable,” said Governor James E. McGreevey.

“This is just the first wave of natural resource damage cases,” said Attorney General Harvey.

“New Jersey is sending a clear message that polluters will be held accountable for damages to our state’s water resources and for diminishing our residents’ quality of life,” said DEP Commissioner Campbell.

Last September, Attorney General Harvey and Commissioner Campbell announced a major policy directive to address more than 4,000 potential NRD claims statewide. At that time, Commissioner Campbell ordered 66 responsible parties to assess natural resource injuries involving 18 sites in the Lower Passaic River watershed and to undertake any necessary restoration projects.

In November, Attorney General Harvey and Commissioner Campbell joined Governor McGreevey to announce a record-setting $17 million NRD settlement involving 3 corporations linked to chromium contamination in Hudson and Essex counties. Another milestone was reached with the filing of the first round of complaints under the NRD initiative.

The 10 complaints that are being filed involve sites that typically suffered contamination during a period of many years. They include actions against some major corporations. The complaints involve the following defendants and sites that were contaminated with hazardous substances:

•7-Eleven Inc.: Southland Corporation site on Alphano Road in Independence Township, Warren County, contaminated by discharges from plant where the defendant, formerly known as The Southland Corporation, manufactured organic chemicals;

•Bob Baldwin’s Transportation Inc., Chevron Texaco, Peet Blokker Inc. and Robert E. Baldwin: Baldwin site near Omega and Theta Drives in Vernon Township, Sussex County, and nearby Peet Blokker site, both contaminated by discharges from retail gasoline service stations and fuel oil storage or distribution operations; contamination of soils, ground water and Omega Drive public water supply wells;

•ACR Inc. of South Jersey and United States Steel Corporation: Tabernacle Drum Dump Superfund site on Caranza Road, Tabernacle Township, Burlington County, contaminated by discharges from approximately 200 drums and other containers disposed of by ACR, some of which belonged to U.S. Steel, containing hazardous substances, including solvents, heavy metals and paint sludges;

•Viacom Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment Inc.: CBS Records site at 400 North Woodbury Road in Pitman Borough, Gloucester County, contaminated by discharges from record and compact disc manufacturing plant;

•AT&T Corporation: AT&T site in Hanover Township, Morris County, contaminated by discharges from research and development operations; contamination of soils, sediments and ground water as well as wetlands and surface water adjacent to site;

•General Dynamics Corporation: General Dynamics site in Woodbridge, Middlesex County, contaminated by discharges from plant where General Dynamics Corporation manufactured mechanical components for military and industrial equipment; prior owners manufactured steel office furniture at site;

•General Electric Company: General Electric site in Hamilton, Mercer County, contaminated by discharges from plant used by G.E. for manufacturing electrical switchgears and appliances;

•International Business Machines Corporation: IBM site in Dayton, Middlesex County, contaminated by chlorinated cleaning solvents used at company’s facility; contamination of South Brunswick’s public water supply;

•Reichhold Inc.: Two sites: Reichhold Elizabeth site in Elizabeth, Union County, and Reichhold Newark site at 46 Albert Avenue in Newark, Essex County, both contaminated by discharges from plants where the company manufactured resins and chemicals;

•Rowe International Inc.: Rowe International site at 75 Troy Hills Road in Hanover Township, Morris County, contaminated by discharges from plant where company manufactured vending machines.

At most of these sites, the responsible parties are conducting cleanup of the discharges of hazardous substances. The Spill Act imposes liability on any party that has discharged hazardous substances onto the land or into the waters of the state – or is in any way responsible for a hazardous substance that is discharged – for cleanup and removal costs, including the cost of restoring or replacing natural resources injured by the discharge. The complaints being filed also seek to hold the defendants responsible for such cleanups.

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