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Bioremediation May be in Store for Lower Passaic River

Two companies have decided to fund a pilot project aimed at determining whether “bioremediation,” the use of bacteria to decrease the presence of cancer-causing compounds, can be used to clean up the lower stretch of the Passaic River.  The measure announced by Maxus Energy Group, Inc. and Tierra Solutions, Inc. earlier in February would be the latest in a long list methods proposed to clean up the famously contaminated waterway.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a plan late last year that would remove 4.3 million cubic yards of sediment that has been contaminated by dioxin, mercury, and PCBs from decades of industrial activity.  However, the EPA plan is viewed by representatives of the liable entities as too expensive.  It would also likely take a decade or more as proposed.  The bioremediation pilot project, meanwhile, is expected to continue into 2017.

However, bioremediation proposals have drawn some skepticism from environmental groups involved with the River such as NY/NJ Baykeeper and New Jersey’s Sierra Club.  Those groups mostly voice support for the concept of a study insofar as it does not interfere with the Federal cleanup process.  Sierra Club, for instance, has advocated a complete dredging of the river bed, but has suggested that bioremediation could be used to effectively reduce the toxicity of sediment in the River before the dredging begins.

The Passaic River cleanup has also been the subject of an October 2014 settlement between the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Occidental Chemical Corp. The Toxic Injury Lawyers of Lieberman & Blecher, P.C. continue to monitor all news and legal developments related to site remediation and cost recovery in New Jersey and beyond.

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