In an action that will protect people’s health and the environment, and benefit riverfront communities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today finalized a plan to remove 3.5 million cubic yards of toxic sediment from the lower eight miles of the Passaic River in New Jersey, followed by capping that entire stretch of river bottom. The sediment in the Passaic River is severely contaminated with dioxin, PCBs, heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants from more than a century of industrial activity. The lower eight miles of the Passaic is the most heavily contaminated section of the river. Ninety percent of the volume of contaminated sediments in the river are in the lower eight miles. Key elements of the EPA cleanup plan: • 3.5 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be removed by dredging the river bottom, bank-to-bank, from Newark Bay to the Belleville/Newark border. • Over 100 pollutants identified • Approximately 100 companies are potentially responsible for generating and releasing the pollution • Sediment will be dewatered and transported likely by train for disposal. Dredged sediment will be sent to licensed, permitted facilities designed to accept the type of contaminants in the sediment. • After dredging, the entire lower eight miles of the river will be capped bank-to-bank. The cap will isolate the remaining contaminated sediment, effectively eliminating the movement of a major source of contamination to the rest of the river and Newark Bay. • The cleanup is estimated to cost $1.38 billion “The Passaic River has been seriously damaged by over a century of pollution. Extraordinarily high concentrations of dioxin, PCBs, heavy metals and pesticides have robbed the people of New Jersey from being able to use this natural resource. The EPA’s cleanup plan will improve water quality, protect public health, revitalize waterfront areas and create hundreds of new jobs. This plan is one of the most comprehensive in the nation and will help restore a badly damaged river,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The remediation of the Passaic River has been a priority for the Christie Administration and the Record of Decision for this clean-up plan is the culmination of decades of studies and analyses and efforts, with cooperative efforts from multiple interests mutually working toward the common goal of restoring the river. EPA Region 2 has also been a tremendous partner in this effort,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “This workable, realistic remedy will reduce the ongoing threat to public health and the environment and, ultimately, will result in our goal of spurring economic growth along the Passaic River and throughout Northern New Jersey.” A major source of dioxin in the river was pollution from the former Diamond Alkali facility in Newark, where the production of Agent Orange and other pesticides during the 1960s generated dioxin that contaminated the land and the river. Fish and shellfish in the lower Passaic and Newark Bay are highly contaminated with mercury, PCBs and dioxin. Fisheries along the river have long been closed due to the contamination. Catching crabs is prohibited, as is consumption of fish and crab taken from the Lower Passaic River. Local plans for riverfront development have also been hindered because of pollution. The lower 17 miles of the Passaic River, which stretches from its mouth at Newark Bay to the Dundee Dam, are part of the Diamond Alkali Superfund site. The Diamond Alkali site was added to the federal Superfund List in 1984. From 1983 to 2001 EPA-directed cleanup work was conducted on land at the former Diamond Alkali facility and in the streets and homes near it. This final plan builds on dredging that has already occurred in two smaller areas with high concentrations of contaminants. In 2012, the EPA oversaw dredging in the Passaic near the former Diamond Alkali facility in Newark. About 40,000 cubic yards of the most highly dioxin contaminated sediment were removed, treated and then transported by rail to licensed disposal facilities out of state. In 2013, the EPA oversaw dredging of approximately 16,000 cubic yards of highly contaminated sediment from a half-mile stretch of the Passaic River that runs by Riverside County Park North in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. This area is located about 11 miles north of the river mouth and outside of the lower eight miles addressed in today’s announcement. In the lower Passaic River, there is an approximately 10-to-15-foot deep reservoir of contaminated fine-grained sediment in the lower eight miles of the river. Under this plan, about 3.5 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be dredged and removed from the Passaic River. Once the top layer of contaminated sediment is removed from the river, a protective cap will be placed over the area that was dredged. The cap will consist of two feet of sand except along the shore where it will be one foot of sand and one foot of materials to support habitat for fish and plants. The cap will be monitored and maintained to ensure that the cleanup remains effective. In the 1.7 miles closest to Newark Bay, deeper dredging will occur to allow current commercial navigation to continue. Based on further assessment of the reasonably anticipated navigational uses, the EPA expects less depth in parts of the navigation channel than was contemplated in the 2014 proposed plan. Because of the nature and complexity of the Passaic River contamination, the EPA divided the investigation and consideration of cleanup options into two studies – one of the 17-mile stretch of the Lower Passaic from its mouth to the Dundee Dam and the other focused on just the lower eight miles. Information gained from the 17-mile study was integrated into the EPA’s Record of Decision for the cleanup of the lower eight miles. A portion of Newark Bay is also being studied by one of the parties potentially responsible for the contamination, with EPA oversight. The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, not taxpayers. The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination at sites that are placed on the Superfund list and seeks to hold those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. Most of the work to-date to clean up the Passaic has been performed by parties responsible for the contamination. The EPA will pursue agreements to ensure that the cleanup work in the lower eight miles will be carried out and paid for by those responsible for the pollution as required by the Superfund law. The entire record of decision for the lower eight miles of the Passaic River is available at https://semspub.epa.gov/src/collection/02/AR63167 Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2
Uber New Jersey announced a new partnership with the New Jersey NAACP to recruit 3,000 new drivers from low income communities throughout New Jersey by the end of June 2016. Working with local government officials and community organizations, Uber will host a series of driver education events to inform residents about partnering with Uber and connecting with flexible economic opportunities.
“Creating jobs in low income communities through shared economic platforms and strong partnerships like this is critical to providing support to New Jersey families who need it most while strengthening our region’s economy,” said Senator Cory Booker. “Fostering the creation of new wage-earning opportunities in some of New Jersey’s most underserved communities opens doors that will help preserve the corps of our neighborhoods and build an economy that works for everyone.”
Honoring their work in fighting hunger, First Lady Mary Pat Christie and the New Jersey Heroes Foundation have designated three deserving individuals as nominees for the August online New Jersey Hero poll. The three candidates – Adam Lowy of Move for Hunger, Gary Oppenheimer of AmpleHarvest.org and Kristina Guttadora of Farmers Against Hunger are being recognized for their hunger prevention efforts throughout the Garden State.
“Each of this month’s nominees has worked tirelessly on behalf of New Jersey families and individuals in need,” said First Lady Mary Pat Christie.” At a time when so many in our communities are experiencing food insecurity, these organizations are making a difference and ensuring that impacted families have the necessities to put a meal on the table. Our August candidates clearly represent the best of New Jersey Heroes.”
Beginning today, August 10th through August 31st, the public will have an opportunity to choose the August New Jersey Hero by visiting http://newjerseyheroes.org/index/poll/ to cast their selection.
This is the third New Jersey Hero being determined by the public via an online poll posted to the New Jersey Heroes website. There were more than 20,000 votes cast overall for May’s New Jersey Heroes candidates.
Voters can cast their ballots once per day until the poll ends at 10:00 am on August 31st. The August New Jersey Hero will be announced later that afternoon via press release.
The August New Jersey Heroes nominees are:
Adam Lowy – Move for Hunger (Neptune, Monmouth County)
Adam Lowy is the founder and Executive Director of Move For Hunger, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing food waste and fighting hunger. Having grown up working alongside his family’s NJ moving company, Adam saw firsthand the incredible amount of food that was wasted when people moved. As a solution, they started offering their customers the opportunity to donate their food when they moved. The moving company was in the home anyway and would offer to deliver it to the local food bank. By simply asking a question, 300 lbs. of food was delivered in just one month. Adam knew this process needed to be replicated nationwide. In just five short years, Move For Hunger has built a network of over 600 movers dedicated to eliminating food waste and delivering more meals. Today, we have delivered over 5.2 million pounds of food to those in need, but there is still so much more to do. We find it hard to believe that while 50 million Americans struggle with hunger, 40% of food processed in the US will end up in a landfill. The generous support of this award will enable Move For Hunger to expand our impact and ensure that nutritious life-saving food does not end up in the trash. Learn more at https://moveforhunger.org/what-we-do/
Gary Oppenheimer – AmpleHarvest.org (Newfoundland, Passaic County)
AmpleHarvest.org is a 50 state solution to hunger and malnutrition founded by Gary Oppenheimer (a CNN Hero). This one of a kind program is enabling America’s 42 million home/community gardeners (35% of all households) along with small farmers, share their excess bounty with one of nearly 300 New Jersey food pantries/soup kitchens plus another 7,200 nationwide, that help nourish about 10 million food insecure people. AmpleHarvest.org educates, encourages and for the first time, enables these gardeners who have 5+ billion pounds of excess food, to share this bounty thereby creating a recurring, sustainable and lifelong link between the gardeners, and the desperate need for the fresh food in the same community. What makes this different from any other food/gleaning program is its extreme efficiency and that it instantly scales to reach any town in America. The free supply of excess food gardeners end up with annually, its cost free transportation (the grower herself) to the food programs, as well as the Internet were all pieces that needed to be joined together. By using information, social media and technology to connect these dots, AmpleHarvest.orghelping millions of gardeners reach into their backyard instead of their back pocket to help their neighbors in need get healthier food harvested only hours earlier. This small but hugely impactful non-profit from New Jersey is America’s cloud based solution to hunger. The idea and the ideal is “No Food Left Behind”. Learn more at www.AmpleHarvest.org/TED
Kristina Guttadora – Farmers Against Hunger (Bordentown, Burlington County)
The New Jersey Agricultural Society’s Farmers Against Hunger (FAH) program has been “harvesting for the hungry” since 1996. It all began when a group of farmers and legislators were on a farm tour and recognized the need to efficiently move surplus fresh produce to those in need. Ever since, FAH works to collect 1.3 million pounds of food annually from farms, grocery stores and wholesale suppliers. Farmers Against Hunger is a truly collaborative organization, helping over 70 partner agencies, including the state food banks, soup kitchens and pantries by providing free donations. “Glean teams.” engaging 1200 community volunteers annually, come to local farms to help harvest extra produce which may otherwise be plowed under. Communities become directly engaged in the mission and volunteers gain an understanding of New Jersey’s rich agricultural heritage and the relationship between their food, food waste and food insecurity. Recovering everything from apples to zucchini, recipients line up to receive these bountiful, New Jersey crops which are often not available at their pantries. For a struggling mother, this donation could enable her to have enough ears of corn for every family member; for a senior citizen, this donation could provide the fresh produce that is necessary for his/her health conditions; and for a child, this donation could be the first taste of fresh peach and the beginning of an understanding of what it means to make healthy food choices. Kristina Guttadora leads the Farmers Against Hunger effort as Program Director and Executive Director of the New Jersey Agricultural Society. As just one of two full time employees, Kristina relies on an amazing support team of part-time seasonal staff, volunteers, partners and board members to operate the Garden State’s first and broadest farm gleaning program. Learn more athttp://www.njagsociety.org/farmers-against-hunger.html
New Jersey Heroes is an initiative First Lady Mary Pat Christie began in 2010 to showcase the positive and unique ways people and organizations are impacting New Jersey and their communities. To nominate a hero, go to newjerseyheroes.org and follow the application instructions to submit the person you believe is a true New Jersey Hero.