Trenton, NJ — Today, Clean Water Action called for expedited progress in making the community whole and a rigorous review of a proposed Natural Resource Damages Settlement between the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the BASF Corporation at the Ciba Geigy Toms River Superfund Site.
“A more tragic story of the poisoning of a community would be hard to find. The damage done can never be wholly undone. Nothing will bring back the children who died or alleviate the pain endured by those stricken with cancer, their families and the community, but we must do better,” said Janet Tauro, an Ocean County resident and Clean Water Action NJ Board Chair.
“Given the dirty deeds of Ciba Geigy and past government failures, the people of Toms River and downstream communities deserve more both on and off site when it comes to cleanup, preservation and protection from future harm. A required first step is meaningful public engagement, more than just written comment, during the public comment period for this proposed settlement," continued Tauro.
Background on this Superfund Site:
- Since the 1950’s, Ciba-Geigy buried more than 100,000 drums of hazardous waste on the northern edge of the Pine Barrens contaminating potable ground water. It generates and discharges 5-7 million gallons of chemical liquid wastes a day into the Atlantic less than a half-mile off Ortley Beach. (March 1985)
- Ciba-Geigy Corp. agreed to pay $63.8 million to settle criminal charges filed by the state for illegally disposed hazardous waste (Feb. 1992)
- Class-action lawsuit filed against Ciba Geigy on behalf of up to 35,000 people who drank water contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals from public wells in Toms River, NJ. during the 1960’s and 1970’s. (May 2000)
- The suit was settled for medical monitoring for 1960’s and 1970’s Toms River residents and hundreds of additional claims as part of that case (Kramer v. Ciba Geigy).
- Union Carbide, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, and United Water Toms River agreed to a $13.2 million dollar settlement with 69 families whose children were diagnosed with cancer. Other families declined the settlement to pursue an additional class-action suit. Children from 15 families have died and new cases of childhood cancer are being diagnosed each year. (Jan. 2002)
- Current owner BASF says pumping up and treating has reduced the footprint of the groundwater pollution plume by about 40% over 20 yrs. and it will take at least another 20 to 30 more years to complete the clean up (April 2018)
Since the organization’s founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking, and people power to the table. www.cleanwater.org