NEWARK – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) today joined federal and state officials at the Diamond Alkali Superfund site in Newark for a major announcement concerning the removal of contaminated sediment from the lower Passaic River.
"While we continue to work towards a comprehensive solution to remediate the entire 17-mile stretch of the Lower Passaic, it is important that we show to the people of the region that progress is being achieved, not just merely studied," said Pascrell. "We’re not just talking about cleaning up this River anymore. This is the kind of shovel in the ground project that shows to the communities that actually cleaning up this river is indeed possible, despite all of the skepticism that is out there."
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 helped $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 project will remove 200,000 cubic yards of the most highly contaminated sediment from an area of the Passaic River near the Diamond Alkali Superfund Site. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are overseeing the work, which is funded and being performed by Tierra Solutions, Inc. About 40,000 cubic yards of the most highly contaminated, dioxin-laden sediment is being removed in the first phase. The sediment will be removed and then piped to a processing facility that is being constructed one quarter mile downstream at 117 Blanchard Street. There, the contaminated sediment will be dewatered and loaded onto sealed containers and transported off-site by train for disposal.
This two-phase removal project is one installment in a much more comprehensive investigation of contamination and evaluation of cleanup options for the lower eight miles of the Passaic River and possibly other stretches of the river and Newark Bay. The EPA is currently finalizing their comprehensive removal study for the region, which is expected to cost several billion dollars and we expect will be challenged in the courts. The Army Corps has pushed for a smaller scale project with lower costs that could be subject to fewer objects by the responsible parties. Separately, the NJDEP’s lawsuit against Tierra Solutions and other responsible parties continues, with the NJDEP recently winning several court decisions holding the parties officially responsible for the cleanup of the river under New Jersey law.