Polluters Must Pay


March 15, 2016

Polluters abused the mighty Passaic River like a garbage dump for years, disposing carcinogens like dioxin and other toxins, into a precious waterway teeming with life. At long last, justice will be served. The final cleanup plan for the lower eight miles the Passaic River Superfund site was released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on March 4, 2016. The cleanup plan consists of a complete bank-to-bank dredge of 3.5 million cubic yards of toxic sediment which will be disposed of out-of-state and will be the one of the largest cleanups in the country.

This plan represents a sigh of relief for the communities of Newark, Harrison, East Newark, and Kearny that have been living with polluters’ toxic legacy for decades. Additionally, the cleanup is expected to create 600-700 jobs annually for several years. Once the cleanup is completed, the risk to human health will be radically diminished and the River can once again serve as a source for safe recreation.

While news headlines should have read, “Polluters Must Pay,” instead, some press focused on a divided environmental community over support for the final cleanup plan. New Jersey Sierra Club denounced EPA’s cleanup plan, insisting it wasn’t good enough.  Unfortunately, Sierra Club has neither the science or the local community residents backing them up on their claim.

This comprehensive cleanup plan is a victory and now we must focus our attentions on ensuring that the polluters stop delaying the cleanup and pay for their mess. We look forward to working with our partners and the communities of the impacted areas to revitalize the Passaic River.

Debbie Mans

Baykeeper and Executive Director