Toms River, NJ, Appeals ‘Sweetheart deal’ For Infamous Ciba-Geigy Toxic Dump Site
TOMS RIVER — This Jersey Shore town, home to one of the most notorious toxic dumping sites in America, is appealing a settlement between the site's owner and the state.
Critics, including Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill, say the settlement with German chemical company BASF does not do enough to make up for years of widespread pollution at the 1,250-acre Ciba-Geigy Superfund site.
Save Barnegat Bay also filed an appeal. The local nonprofit claims their environmental experts found the state DEP did not accurately measure the toxic site's harmful impact to Ocean County.
"The sweetheart deal that NJDEP made with BASF is woefully inadequate and does not compensate the people of Toms River and Ocean County for the damage that has been done to our environment by the corporate polluters,” Hill said in a statement.
NJ settlement with Ciba-Geigy site owner
The current settlement between the state DEP and BASF, the current owner of the Ciba-Geigy site, was announced in August. It included more provisions than a previous settlement reached last year that received significant backlash from SBB and local residents at public meetings.
The August settlement with BASF includes a $500,000 cash payment. It also requires the company to make environmental upgrades; BASF must maintain nine restoration projects for 20 years, restore wetlands, create walking trails and other features, and build an environmental education center.
But to some, including the mayor, it's still not enough to make up for decades of harmful contamination. The SBB criticized the DEP for not including off-site restoration plans in the settlement.
“This is just the beginning of what will be a long battle for justice for Toms River and the surrounding Ocean County towns and we are ready to go the distance and stand together with Toms River and Ocean County," SBB Executive Director Britta Forsberg said.
Harmful waste at Ciba-Geigy Superfund site
Once the largest employer for Toms River, Ciba-Geigy Chemical Corp. flushed its chemical waste into the Toms River and Atlantic Ocean and buried 47,000 drums of toxic waste. The drums have since been removed.
As the contamination dominated local waterways and groundwater, even in residential areas, cancer cases began to rise in children.
At least 87 children in the township had been diagnosed with cancer between 1979 and 1995, according to the state Department of Health. A study found "significantly elevated" rates of childhood cancers and leukemia in girls in Toms River compared to the rest of New Jersey, the Associated Press reported.
Ciba-Geigy and two other companies reached a $13.2 million settlement with 69 families whose children had cancer. The chemical company also paid nearly $64 million in 1992 to settle criminal charges for illegally disposing of hazardous waste.
Then, in 2010, BASF bought the site. The company maintains it has done nothing to cause further harm to the environment.
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