Litigation by the state Division of Law brought in $29.9 million for toxic-site cleanups in the past fiscal year, the most since recoveries began to be tracked in 1992, officials announced Wednesday.
Most of the money — topping the previous records of $27.6 million in fiscal 1999 and $20.3 million in fiscal 2000, came from two settlements, Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said.
In one case, State v. Honeywell International Inc., Honeywell, PPG and Occidental agreed to pay $5 million each to clean up chromium waste at more than 100 industrial sites in Jersey City.
They also will clean up 42 so-called orphan sites around Jersey City and Kearny, for which no company accepted responsibility.
The state alleged that the waste came from Honeywell’s predecessor, Mutual Chemical Co., which operated a plant from 1895 to 1954; PPG or its predecessors, which operated a plant from 1924 to 1963; and Occidental’s predecessors, which operated a plant from 1948 to 1976.
One element of that waste, hexavalent chromium, is a highly toxic heavy metal linked to a range of health problems.
The suit alleged that the processing waste was sold to entrepreneurs who sold it to construction companies for use as fill in sewer line installations and other projects.
The state sued in 2005 and a consent order was issued in September 2011.
In the second case, State v. Almo Anti-Pollution Services Corp., the state reached a $13 million settlement with more than 200 owners, operators and customers of the Burlington Environmental Management Service (BEMS) landfill in Southampton, Burlington County.
The landfill, a disposal site for municipal and industrial waste and septic sludge from the late 1960s until 1982, borders a large retirement community, LeisureTowne.
The site’s owner, BEMS Inc., installed a cap on part of the landfill in 1983 but it failed to stop infiltration of precipitation, leading to large quantities of leachate contaminating the groundwater and causing foul odors.
In addition, stormwater runoff caused nearby properties to flood, and methane gas generated by decomposing waste migrated into private yards. In 1985, BEMS declared bankruptcy.
A consent order was issued in April of this year.
In addition to the Hudson County and BEMS cases, the Division of Law recovered cleanup costs at other locations, including:
• The Burnt Fly Bog Superfund site in Marlboro and Old Bridge townships, on the edge of the Pine Barrens, where waste oil was dumped in the 1950s and early 1960s.
The state sued owners Dominic and Carmella Manzo and their business, Ace-Manzo Inc., in 1997. That suit, consolidated with a similar one by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, settled in April 2011. The settlement brought the state $863,000 in fiscal 2012 and a total payout to date of $1.9 million.
• A petroleum storage facility in Paulsboro where hazardous substances were discharged. The former owner, ExxonMobil Corp., is remediating a portion of the site.
In 2007, the state sued three companies that owned the property after ExxonMobil — Kinder Morgan Liquids Terminal LLC, formerly known as GATX Terminals Corp.; Support Terminals Operating Partnership; and Plains Products Terminals, formerly known as Pacific Atlantic Terminals. They paid $1.1 million in remediation costs and agreed to take other remediation measures.
The matter settled in June 2011.
New Jersey’s environmental enforcement attorneys “consistently produce fantastic results in what are typically difficult and complex cost recovery cases,” Division of Law Director Christopher Porrino said in a statement.
Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin says the record recovery illustrates the state’s commitment to aggressive enforcement of environmental laws. “The bill for these property cleanups should be paid by the parties that caused the contamination, not the taxpayers and residents of our state,” Martin said in a statement.
Funds recovered by the state for cleaning up toxic sites vary widely, according to the Attorney General’s Office. The state recovered $9,154,182 in fiscal 2011, $17,476,791 in fiscal 2010 and $9,217,952 in 2009.