The Christie administration announced a $130 million partial settlement against alleged polluters who are said to have contributed to dioxin contamination of the Passaic River in northern New Jersey.
The state says the penalties announced in the lawsuit yesterday could go as high as $530 million. It has already reported a $34.5 million proposed settlement with smaller third-party defendants. Most importantly, the state says it will continue to press its claims against the principal defendant, Occidental Chemical Corp., for the bulk of the state’s damages and future costs.
Those costs are likely to come to at least $2 billion, according to Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Sierra Club president, who criticized the announcement, calling it a possible sellout by the administration. The Passaic River contamination stems from the manufacture of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Tittel wants the state to pursue Occidental and other alleged polluters not just for cleanup costs but also for natural resource damages. He also said that the EPA is pursuing its own case against the polluters and could be negatively impacted by this agreement.
Meanwhile, the state is planning to divert $40 million of the settlement to balance its operating budget.