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EPA Enforcement Actions in New Jersey Lead to Environmental Improvements
Release Date: 11/15/2007
Contact Information: Rich Cahill (212) 637-3666, Cahill.Richard@EPA.gov
(NEW YORK, NY) Using a full range of compliance and enforcement strategies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continued to bring more and more facilities in the state of New Jersey into and beyond compliance with federal laws that protect public health and the environment in fiscal year 2007, which runs from October 1, 2006 to September 30, 2007. In that period, EPA enforcement actions cut pollution in air and water and on land by 18 million pounds, resulted in private investments of more than $1.1 billion in pollution control and cleanups, as well as almost $600,000 for other environmentally beneficial projects. EPA also assessed more than $7.7 million in civil penalties and issued 52 administrative orders to correct violations of agency regulations at 55 facilities in New Jersey.
Among the highlights of these actions were a ground-breaking agreement between EPA and PSEG Fossil LLC to shut down or better control emissions from the utility’s coal-fired plants in Jersey City and Hamilton and spend $1.1 billion doing it. In addition, EPA came to agreement with 73 potentially responsible parties to spend an estimated $37 million to investigate and identify cleanup alternatives for the Passaic River. The agency recovered costs of cleaning up Higgins Farm and Higgins Disposal Superfund sites in Franklin Township that will reimburse the federal government more than $25 million, and also obtained a court judgment for the recovery of $31 million in money spent to cleanup the Burnt Fly Bog Superfund site in Marlboro Township.
“The people of New Jersey can count on our continued vigilance in enforcing EPA regulations when action is needed,” EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said. “Complying with environmental law isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the backbone of our mission to protect people’s health and the environment.”
EPA Region 2, which covers New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, exceeded the enforcement program accomplishments of the previous year in a number of key categories. For example, the amount of money spent by the regulated community to build pollution abatement facilities and conduct environmental improvement measures increased over 1300%, from $285.9 million to over $4 billion. The volume of pollution reduced through enforcement actions rose by 95%, from 35.7 million pounds to 69.7 million pounds. The amount of civil penalties collected from non-complying facilities increased by 102%, from $5.6 million to $11.3 million, and the number of environmentally beneficial projects undertaken by the regulated community was up by 62%, from 21 to 34.
On a national scale, in fiscal year 2007, EPA’s civil and criminal enforcement actions resulted in pollutant reductions of 890 million pounds. Over 65 percent of these reductions were achieved by addressing high-priority air and water pollution challenges. Air priority efforts achieved commitments to reduce 426.8 million pounds of pollutants, while water priority efforts achieved commitments to reduce 178 million pounds.
Over the last five years, EPA’s enforcement program has sustained a steady track record of pollution reductions and commitments from industry to install pollution controls. Since 2003, EPA’s enforcement activities have required companies to invest over $33 billion in pollution control equipment to achieve pollution reductions of nearly 4.5 billion pounds.
SUMMARIES OF NOTABLE CASES IN NEW JERSEY
PSEG Fossil LLC
In a landmark settlement with EPA, PSEG agreed to either shut down or put stringent controls on its power plants in Hudson County by 2010 and to surrender allowances that would have allowed it to emit or trade 8,568 tons of sulfur dioxide and 2,856 tons of nitrogen oxides. PSEG will spend approximately $1.1 billion to correct its violations and pay a $4.2 million penalty for past violations, one of the largest penalties ever levied by EPA in a Clean Air Act case.
Lower Passaic River Study Area
EPA settled with 73 companies that are potentially responsible for polluting the Passaic River, which is part of a Superfund cleanup. These companies agreed to take over the study of the 17-mile reach of the Passaic stretching from the Dundee Dam in Garfield to the river’s confluence with Newark Bay. The cost of the work to be performed under the agreement is estimated at $37 million.
Higgins Farm and Higgins Disposal Superfund Sites
Two agreements were approved by the federal court in New Jersey that involve the Higgins Farm and the Higgins Disposal Superfund sites in Franklin Township, New Jersey. The agreements require the responsible parties NCH Corporation and FMC Corporation, along with several federal agencies, to reimburse most of EPA’s cleanup costs at the sites. The agreement with NCH requires it to conduct a long-term cleanup of the groundwater at the Higgins Farms site (which is expected to cost $12 million) and also pay $2,065,000 to resolve its liabilities at both sites. Joining in the NCH agreement were three federal agency parties, who will pay a total of $7,300,000 in partial reimbursement of EPA’s costs at both sites. The second agreement resolves the liability of the FMC Corporation at both sites by requiring it to pay the United States $16,725,000.
Pohatcong Valley Groundwater Contamination Site
At the Pohatcong Valley Groundwater Contamination Superfund site, EPA has required Pechiney Plastic Packaging, Inc. (PPPI), a potentially responsible party, to design and carryout the plan to cleanup groundwater contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) at a projected cost of approximately $8,000,000. PPPI is also required to identify residences or businesses in the proximity of the TCE groundwater plume that are not connected to public water and that may therefore require the installation of systems to ensure that those residences or businesses are not adversely affected by the contaminated groundwater.
Burnt Fly Bog Superfund Site
EPA won an important victory when the federal court ordered Dominick and Carmella Manzo and their company, Ace-Manzo, Inc., to reimburse the United States $31,089,534 for EPA’s costs in cleaning up the Burnt Fly Bog Superfund site. The order and judgment followed a memorandum opinion by the court finding that the Manzos and their company were liable to the United States for its costs, including interest, expended in the cleanup of this Superfund site. The State of New Jersey, a co-plaintiff in the case, was awarded $4,805,614.
Under a Stipulation and Order entered by the federal district court, Tyco was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $1,137,000 for violating the Clean Air Act at its specialty metal parts manufacturing facility in Hamburg, NJ. Tyco was cited for emissions control violations relating to chromium and trichloroethylene, which are among the most toxic of hazardous air pollutants.
Infineum USA, L.P.
In November 2006, EPA reached a $950,000 civil penalty settlement with Infineum. The company was cited by EPA for using a new chemical in its auto products before the chemical had undergone a required review. Infineum, a joint venture of the ExxonMobil and Shell oil companies, is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of lubricant and has its production facility in Linden, New Jersey.
More information on EPA’s enforcement and compliance programs, its accomplishments and the Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) research tool can be found at https://www.epa.gov/echo. More information about EPA Region 2 enforcement and compliance programs is available at https://www.epa.gov/region2/capp. Additional details on Region 2's enforcement and compliance results for 2007 can be found at https://www.epa.gov/region2/capp/results.htm.