Businesses to pay $130M to settle some Passaic River contamination claims

TRENTON – Several companies have agreed to pay the state $130 million to settle some of the claims involving Passaic River contamination, the state announced Tuesday.

Companies including Spain-based Repsol, Argentina-based YPF, as well as other holding  and energy companies agreed to the settlement, according to the Attorney General and the Department of Environmental Protection.

This agreement follows a $35.4 million proposed settlement with 258 other defendants, the AG’s office stated.

If approved in court, the state could go ahead with claims against Occidental Chemical for the bulk of damages, the AG’s office reported.

The proposed settlement was presented on Friday to Superior Court Judge Sebastian P. Lombardi in Newark and Special Master Marina Corodemus.

The AG said the state will pursue Occidental for damages resulting from the intentional discharge of Agent Orange, dioxins and other hazardous substances by the former Diamond Shamrock plant.

These costs are separate from the $130 million received from the settling defendants announced today.

The state reported that last summer that the court  entered a judgment against Occidental, holding it liable for all of the state’s clean-up costs as the legal successor to Diamond Shamrock. The litigation in this case began more than seven years ago.

The Appellate Division previously had ruled that Diamond Shamrock intentionally dumped hazardous pollutants into the Passaic River for decades.

Under terms of the agreement announced today, the settling defendants’ total exposure to all claims for Passaic River cleanup and removal costs and damages could go as high as $530 million, subject to certain conditions and exceptions, according to the state.

Businesses to pay $130M to settle some Passaic River contamination claims