Assembly Approves Rooney Resolution To Investigate Corporations Responsible For Polluting The Passaic River

Argentine company’s bankruptcy filing may be effort for cleanup of toxic contamination

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney’s resolution (AR219), approved today by the General Assembly, urges federal and state authorities to examine the alleged use of bankruptcy laws by an Argentina state-owned oil company to avoid cleaning up dioxin contamination in the lower Passaic River.

“The state and federal governments should be doing everything possible to ensure that the Passaic River is cleaned up by private sources, not taxpayers,” said Rooney (R—Bergen). “Bankruptcy laws should not be used as shields for companies to shirk their responsibility to clean up environmental hazards they helped create.”

The lower eight miles of the Passaic River flows through municipalities in southern Bergen and Essex counties and into Newark Bay, and has been declared a Superfund site by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Last year, the EPA devised a $1.38 billion cleanup plan for the river. The river is heavily contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical that was dumped as a result of the production of Agent Orange. Numerous other companies have also polluted the river with mercury and other heavy metals.

To finance the cleanup, the EPA has secured agreements with several companies to pay for remediation, including dredging 3.5 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the river. However, Argentina’s state-owned company, YPF SA, and its subsidiary Maxus Energy Corp., filed for bankruptcy last June, just three months after the EPA announced its cleanup plan.

“The pollution caused by industrial activities many decades ago has left a deadly trail for us today,” said Rooney. “It’s time the river gets cleaned up by those responsible.”