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Jersey City Chromium RCRA Hazardous Waste Cases

Hackensack Riverkeeper v. Honeywell International, Inc., D.N.J., Civ. No. 06-0022, consolidated under Civ. No. 05-5955

In Interfaith Community Organization v. Honeywell International, Inc., 263 F. Supp. 2d 796 (D.N.J. 2003), affirmed, 399 F.3d 248 (3d Cir.), certiorari denied, 125 S.Ct. 2951 (2005), we represent the Interfaith Community Organization, the Hackensack Riverkeeper, and several individual plaintiffs in a citizen suit brought under RCR that is resulting in the excavation and removal of 1.5 million tons of toxic hexavalent chromium residue from a 34-acre site in Jersey City, New Jersey (know as the Roosevelt Drive-In Site or Study Area 7), and a clean-up of the deep ground water and sediments in the Hackensack River.  The District Court for the District of New Jersey ordered the excavation after finding, among other things, that (1) the plaintiffs, some of whom live within a mile of the site, had standing to bring suit; (2) the site represents an “imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment” under RCRA; and (3) the necessary permanent remedy for those endangerments is total excavation of the waste and remediation of contaminated sediment and deep groundwater.

 The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s injunction, noting that the citizen-plaintiffs had met a higher than necessary standard in proving Honeywell’s liability and that “the time for a clean-up has come.”  The firm continues to represent the plaintiffs in proceedings before Special Master Robert G. Torricelli, appointed to oversee the implementation of the injunction.  The excavation has been completed.   Other remedial efforts will continue.

 In January 2006, in an effort to expand the relief obtained with regard to Study Area 7, we brought another RCRA citizen suit against Honeywell, Hackensack Riverkeeper v. Honeywell International, Inc., D.N.J., Civ. No. 06-022 (DMC), seeking remediation of chromium contamination to soils, groundwater, surface waters, and sediments associated with the properties adjoining Study Area 7.  These properties are designated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) as Study Areas 5 and 6.  The case is consolidated with Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority v. Honeywell International Inc., D.N.J., Civ. No. 05-5955 (DMC) and Jersey City Incinerator Authority v. Honeywell International Inc., D.N.J., Civ. No. 05-5993 (DMC).  In an effort to remediate and redevelop Study Areas 6 and 7, which together comprise 100 acres along the Hackensack River, Honeywell and the City of Jersey City have proposed a redevelopment plan that is designed to transform this contaminated area into a live-where-you-work neighborhood.  Plaintiffs, Honeywell, and Jersey City have reached a settlement which provides for remediation protective of human health and the environment.  The consent decrees include rigorous financial assurance requirements and multiple layers of institutional controls. 

The remediation of Study Area 6 is being overseen by Special Master Torricelli in conjunction with the remediation of Study Area 7.  The firm represents the Hackensack Riverkeeper in the proceedings before Special Master Torricelli. 

Remediation of Study Area 5 is being undertaken pursuant to three consent decrees which address the soil and groundwater contamination.  Like the decrees for Study Area 6, these decrees  provide institutional controls and financial assurances.  Under one of the decrees, an area used by Honeywell’s predecessor, Mutual Chemical, for processing chromate ore will be remediated to become the Westside Campus of the New Jersey City University (NJCU).

If you have any questions about the cases, please call Alicia Alcorn at 202-204-8471.

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