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Case Summary: $165 Million Settlement to Start Cleanup Work on the Passaic River in New Jersey

On September 30, 2016, EPA entered into a settlement agreement with Occidental Chemical Corporation to perform engineering and design work needed to begin the cleanup of the lower 8.3 miles of the lower Passaic River at an estimated cost of $165 million. This work, which includes sampling, evaluating technologies, and doing the engineering work necessary before physical cleanup work can begin, will be done under EPA oversight. Occidental Chemical Corporation will also pay for the EPA’s oversight costs. The EPA will pursue additional cleanup work agreements with more than 100 potentially responsible parties for the contamination to ensure that the cleanup work in the lower 8.3 miles of the Passaic River in New Jersey will be carried out and paid for by those responsible for the contamination.

This settlement agreement will start the cleanup of the largest environmental dredging project in the history of the federal Superfund program. This is the first step in the restoration of the Passaic River, which borders the neighboring New Jersey communities of Newark, Harrison, Kearny, Belleville, and Nutley. The cleanup work will remove 3.5 million cubic yards of toxic sediment from the lower 8.3 miles of the Passaic, from Newark Bay to the Newark/Belleville border.

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Information about Occidental Chemical Corporation

Occidental Chemical Corporation is headquartered in Dallas, TX, and manufacturers chlorine, caustic soda, vinyls, and performance chemical products. Occidental Chemical Corporation was responsible for pollution discharged from the former Diamond Alkali pesticides manufacturing plant that operated in Newark from the 1940s to the 1960s.

In 1967, the Diamond Alkali Company changed its name to the Diamond Shamrock Corporation. In 1983, the Diamond Shamrock Corporation changed its name to the Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Company. On September 4, 1986, all outstanding stock in the Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Company was acquired by the Oxy-Diamond Alkali Corporation from Maxus Energy Corporation, and the Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Company name was changed to the Occidental Electrochemicals Corporation. On November 30, 1987, the Occidental Electrochemicals Corporation was merged into Occidental Chemical Corporation.

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Information about the Diamond Alkali Superfund Site

The Diamond Alkali Superfund site includes the former manufacturing facility at 80-120 Lister Avenue in Newark, NJ, the Lower Passaic River Study Area (LPRSA), the Newark Bay Study Area.

Production of DDT and other chemical products began at 80 Lister Avenue in the 1940s. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Diamond Alkali Company owned and operated the facility, manufacturing agricultural chemicals, including the herbicides used in the defoliant known as “Agent Orange,” among other products. Production activities at the Diamond Alkali facility ceased in August 1969.

More information is available from the Diamond Alkali Superfund site profile page.

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Information on pollutants and environmental effects

The site was listed on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in 1984. Dioxin, pesticides and other hazardous substances were found in the soil and groundwater at 80-120 Lister Avenue; and dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), metals and pesticides were found in sediment in the Lower Passaic River. New Jersey prohibits consumption of fish or shellfish from the Lower Passaic River and Newark Bay. Cleanup activities to date include immediate actions at 80-120 Lister Avenue and surrounding properties, removal actions in the Lower Passaic River, and the interim remedy for 80-120 Lister Avenue. In March 2016, EPA selected the remedy for the lower 8.3 miles of the Lower Passaic River. Additional investigations and planning for long-term cleanup are ongoing.

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Summary of the Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for Remedial Design

Under the administrative settlement agreement and order on consent (ASAOC) for remedial design, Occidental Chemical Corporation will:

  • Develop an overall project management plan to get all work needed prior to and during the cleanup done on a prescribed schedule
  • Submit to EPA a design plan that includes work plans and technical approaches for implementing all design activities
  • Submit field sampling and quality assurance plans for EPA approval, including a plan to collect and analyze sediment samples for the purposes of designing the dredging plan and the engineered cap
  • Develop a plan for dredged material disposal
  • Submit a site-wide plan to monitor water and air quality throughout the life of the cleanup project
  • Identify and select a site or sites for the sediment processing facility, with public input
  • Perform studies to evaluate enhanced capping technologies.

The ASAOC for remedial design is available from the Superfund Records Collection in the Diamond Alkali Superfund site’s website.

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Contact information

For more information, contact

Brian Thompson
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20460

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