Decades of toxic pollution continues to contaminate not just a notorious Superfund site along the Hudson River in Edgewater but also the surrounding area, New Jersey state officials charged in a lawsuit against Honeywell International.
Found in the groundwater, surface water, soil, wetlands and “well outside the physical boundaries” of the 15-acre of the Quanta Resources site are "vast quantities of contaminants" that include arsenic, asbestos, benzene, chromium, lead, PCBs, total petroleum hydrocarbons and other volatile organic compounds, the state alleges in its suit against the multi-national conglomerate.
The site continues to release “heavy end coal tar product” into the river, making fish unsafe to eat, the suit contends.
Meanwhile, a “plume of coal tar creosote” – designated by the federal government as a probable human carcinogen – exists beneath the property and several others along the once-industrial stretch that has been transformed into a tony bedroom community with many spectacular views of Manhattan, it says.
As the company that inherited responsibility for cleaning up the River Road site, Honeywell must pay for damages to the state’s natural resources, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
Honeywell “knew full well” the harms it was “inflicting on our environment,” he said, “but chose to forge ahead anyway.”
The Charlotte, NC-based company is the successor to several industrial owners and operators over nearly 150 years at the Quanta property, which sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb amid condo complexes and luxury high-rises, restaurants and other businesses that have continued to spread along the waterfront, as well as a new Borough Hall that’s literally down the street.
“Discharges of vast quantities of contaminants into the ground and water” came from decades of coal tar processing operations at the site, as well as the manufacture of paving and roofing materials and the use of the property for waste oil storage and recycling, Grewal said. STORY CONTINUES BELOW....
Near the foot of Gorge Road, the site was home to tar tanks in the early 1900s, as well as a tar paper factory, an anhydrous ammonia factory (a byproduct of coal tar processing) and other facilities.
It was later used to recycle waste oil, which leaked into the river from barges, state authorities said. Millions of gallons of cancer-causing, PCB-laced oil were stored in dozens of tanks at the site, they also noted.
The Quanta Resources Corp. took over the property in 1980 and operated a waste oil facility there for about a year. Soon after, the state Department of Environmental Protection discovered the PCB-contaminated oil and other hazardous substances and halted Quanta’s operations.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency then designated the property a federal Superfund site in 2002.
Honeywell assumed liability for the property when it merged with Allied Chemical, which operated there from 1930 to 1974.
The company was reportedly more than halfway through a $78 million project to clean up and contain decades worth of pollution there when it temporarily stopped work in 2018 amid complaints from area residents and merchants of noxious fumes.
Honeywell erected large structures over the work areas to address the concerns.
After Gov. Phil Murphy took office that same year, his administration began filing what have become a series lawsuits to compel the clean-up of contamination at various sites throughout the state.
“These actions have motivated responsible corporations to approach the DEP in an effort to voluntarily resolve their past damages to the state’s natural resources without the need for costly, time-consuming litigation,” Grewal said Tuesday. “it is only after these efforts fail that the state is left with no other option but to litigate.”
Contamination caused by past unlawful discharges continue on the site and beyond, violating New Jersey’s Spill Act and Water Pollution Control Act, as well as common law claims involving public nuisance, trespass and negligence, the lawsuit alleges.
ALSO SEE: An ex-con from Edgewater is headed to federal prison for 10 years for laundering more than $850,000 in drug money.
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