Occidental in $190 million settlement to clean up New Jersey river

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 15, 2014 6:59 PM

(Reuters) - Occidental Chemical Corp has agreed to pay New Jersey $190 million as part of a settlement to clean up the polluted Passaic River, state officials announced on Monday.

The agreement, which is subject to approval by New Jersey Superior Court, will bring to $355 million the total amount recovered by the state in litigation over the blighted waterway that flows through northern New Jersey, the Department of Environmental Protection said.

"Our objective throughout the Passaic River litigation has been to hold accountable those legally responsible for contaminating the river, and we have done so," acting Attorney General John Hoffman said in a statement.

Occidental Chemical, a unit of Occidental Petroleum Corp, bought a Newark factory once owned by Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Co, which dumped cancer-causing dioxin into the river during the manufacturing of the Vietnam War-era defoliant Agent Orange.

Several companies associated with the former Diamond Shamrock site were named in the lawsuit aimed at cleaning up the river - a federal Superfund site and one of the nation's most polluted waterways - and Occidental was the last to settle.

Occidental was not immediately available to say if the costs of the settlement would be reflected in its financial results for the third quarter.

Because of the contamination, residents were warned against harvesting blue claw crabs from the river and from Newark Bay, a tidal bay at the confluence of the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers, environmental officials said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Leslie Adler)