Tag Department of Environmental Protection

PPG Industries has now agreed to excavate and remove an estimated 708,000 tons of chromium waste and contaminated soil from Garfield Avenue, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Jersey City announced today.

PPG and the DEP had previously left up in the air whether they would pursue a full excavation or instead implement targeted excavation and treatment, a process that was roundly criticized as insufficient by environmental groups and some area residents.

The new plan for the site is outlined in a progress report filed Tuesday by court-appointed site administrator W. Michael McCabe with Hudson County judge Thomas Olivieri.

"After months of first-hand experience at the site, it became even more clear that we should go straight to the cleanup approach most favored by the community and Jersey City: Simply stated, dig it all out and haul it away," McCabe says in a statement. "I am very pleased that PPG has selected this approach and that DEP has approved it. This has the best chance of meeting our shared goal of a complete remediation by the Fall of 2014, and I look forward to discussing the details of this agreement with the community."

The site had sat untouched for years despite a 1990 order to begin cleanup until Jersey City, the DEP and PPG entered into a settlement agreement in February 2009. Since then, interim remediation and capping has been put in place to remove the most toxic chromium and protect the area from being further exposed to contamination.

The full excavation phase is expected to begin in the fall of 2011, according to McCabe's report.

The new plan calls for PPG to excavate and remove all chromate waste to a minimum depth of 20 feet, or until excavation reaches a natural barrier of clay-like material called a "meadow mat." The company's preliminary studies indicate that most of the contamination is above the meadow mat.

In addition, PPG will construct an on-site plant to treat contaminated water generated at the site, and will monitor dust and take suppression action with a goal of having no visible dust leaving the site at any time.

“We are pleased that the settlement agreement and cooperation of the DEP, site administrator McCabe and Judge Oliveri has led PPG directly to an excavation course of action," Jersey City corporation counsel William Matsikoudis says. "[This] will lead to the thorough and expeditious remediation that the community deserves."

His comments were echoed by DEP officials.

"This plan is a major step forward for people who live near the Garfield Avenue site who have had to live with these wastes buried in their midst for far too long," DEP acting commissioner Bob Martin says in a statement. "The DEP has been working very hard toward a remediation plan that is mindful of residents' concerns about this site."

However, as we've reported, it was at least in part the DEP's failure to enforce the initial order that allowed the site to languish for decades untouched.

The lack of action by state regulators was what spurred the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and local group the Interfaith Community Organization (ICO) to file a federal lawsuit in January 2009 to push for a stringent cleanup of the site. (They were later joined in the suit by the neighborhood group GRACO.)

Specifically, the groups have been pressing PPG to excavate and remove all of the chromium-contaminated industrial waste to a safe standard, identify and permanently remediate all the chromium-contaminated soil and groundwater in the area, to test all residential properties in the area and remediate them as needed, and to have a plan that could be enforced by a federal court.

"The PPG work plan announced today by New Jersey DEP would, if implemented, go a long way towards achieving our first goal," ICO says in a statement. "We will continue to pursue all of these goals in order to protect the health of people in Jersey City."

The groups have maintained since the beginning that if the cleanup plan were to address their concerns, they would see no need to continue with their own suit.

The new plan seems to be a step in that direction.

"We believe it is clear that our litigation is having a positive effect," ICO says in its statement.

"This Thanksgiving, residents of Jersey City are grateful for the work of ICO, GRACO and especially the legal staff of the Natural Resources Defense Council for finally getting PPG Industries to begin taking its cleanup responsibilities seriously," says Rev. Willard Ashley, co-chairperson of ICO and pastor of Abundant Joy Community Church.

Hudson River Waterfront Walkway & East Coast Greenway Get Federal Trails Grants

The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway and the East Coast Greenway are two local projects that have received federal recreational trails grants, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced yesterday. Across the state, more than $800,000 in grant money was allocated to 48 projects. The federal funds, which are administered by the DEP’s Office of

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Friday Morning News Roundup

- Manzo’s Limbo: While former Assemblyman and perennial mayoral candidate Lou Manzo has — for now — beaten the extortion charge he’s facing as part of last summer’s political corruption sweep, he tells Bob Braun he’s in a state of limbo. “It just puts everything on hold,” he says. “It extends the misery.” Manzo tells

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Friday Morning News Roundup

- ARC Tunnel: Gov. Christie has officially killed the multi-billion dollar Hudson River commuter train tunnel — America’s largest public works project — ending for now the two-decade-old quest to expand train capacity between New Jersey and midtown Manhattan. Christie cited cost as the reason for killing the project; the Ledger says it “may have

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Thursday Morning News Roundup

- Velazquez Replaces Vega on Council: The City Council has unanimously named municipal court judge and former county freeholder Radames “Ray” Velazquez to replace former At-Large councilman Mariano Vega, who resigned after pleading guilty to corruption charges. Look for more on this from us later today. – Transitional Budget: The City Council has adopted a

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Tuesday Morning News Roundup

- Wilbeck Cleared to Run for Assembly Seat: Beating back a legal challenge from the Hudson County Democratic Organization, independent candidate Denis Wilbeck will be on the ballot in November to challenge 31st District Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell for his seat. – Christie Blocking ARC Tunnel Meetings? Sen. Frank Lautenberg says Gov. Christie has refused to

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