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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2005

Contact: Fred Mumford
(609) 984-1795

DEP SETTLES GROUND WATER CLAIMS WITH CHEVRON, CONOCOPHILLIPS
Compensation for Natural Resource Damages at Sites Statewide

(05/131) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced separate agreements with Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and ConocoPhillips Company to preserve five land parcels covering nearly 450 acres in Gloucetser, Middlesex, Sussex and Warren counties as compensation to the public for groundwater pollution at several hundred gas station and oil processing facilites in New Jersey .

“These settlements continue a trend of major firms voluntarily resolving their natural resource damage liabilities in New Jersey,” said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. “Today’s land conservation victories help preserve our water supplies for future generations as we reverse pollution trends of past decades.”

The “resource-to-resource” form of compensation developed by the state avoids costly litigation and instead focuses on restoration and land preservation projects. DEP uses this method for companies that voluntarily approach the state willing to settle natural resource damage liability. In the resource-to-resource compensation model, settling companies must protect an area of land with a high aquifer recharge rate that is equivalent to the acreage of groundwater polluted.

“ New Jersey’s success in pursuing natural resource damage claims can be measured by the more than 4,600 acres of watershed and wildlife habitat preserved,” said Commissioner Campbell. “These agreements illustrate our strong preference for restoration rather than monetary settlements.”

At 200 sites, Chevron’s liability covered 282 acres of injury to groundwater. Chevron also had partial liability at several other sites involving groundwater contamination. Chevron will be donating a 200-acre property in Hackettstown in Warren County to DEP and will be funding the purchase of a 165-acre property in Franklin Township Gloucester County through the Green Acres program. Chevron also will restore and deed restrict 11 acres of salt marsh along Woodbridge Creek in Perth Amboy in Middlesex County, as well as pay the Department's assessment costs. The Hackettstown property is in the Highlands and adjacent to Allamuchy and Stephens state parks, which will create a contiguous property. The land, which contains forested wetlands, grasslands and streams, contains the highest ground water recharge rates in the state.

ConocoPhillips’ liability at 43 sites statewide involves contaminating 73.6 acres of groundwater. ConocoPhillips will fund the purchase of two properties that total 73 acres through Green Acres program in Sparta and Vernon townships in Sussex County. Both properties have high ground water recharge value. ConocoPhillips also will pay DEP's assessment costs for this settlement.

DEP’s preferred voluntary settlement track has resulted in the settlement of natural resource damages at 1,200 hazardous sites. The total preserved wildlife habitat and aquifer recharge area is more than 4,600 acres.

DEP is working with the companies to remediate discharges of hazardous substances to groundwater at their sites throughout the state that were impacted by various underground storage tank and fuel processing activities.

The proposed NRD settlements with Chevron and ConocoPhillips will appear in the December 19, 2005 New Jersey Register and will be subject to a 30-day public comment period.

Chevron is a California-based energy company with principal offices in San Ramon, California. ConocoPhillips is a Texas-based energy company with principal offices in Houston, Texas.

Background on DEP Natural Resource Damage Program

Natural Resource Damage claims compensate the residents of New Jersey for the injury and lost use of natural resources due to contamination. Injuries can refer to both ecological injuries to wetlands, wildlife, ground water or surface water and to human use injuries such as the closure of a waterway to fishing, a beach to swimming or an aquifer for use as drinking water supply.

In addition to protecting more than 4,660 acres of wildlife habitat and aquifer recharge area, DEP and the Attorney General’s Office have recovered approximately $30.5 million since 2002. DEP uses this money to restore wetlands and endangered species habitat, increase public access to natural resources, and protect and manage resources injured by oil spills and hazardous waste sites. DEP also is working with 50 additional responsible parties representing about 500 sites that seek to voluntarily resolve their liability for natural resource damages.

NRD claims are separate from the costs associated with cleaning up contamination. New Jersey’s Spill Compensation and Control Act makes any entity that has discharged hazardous substances onto the land or into the waters of the state liable for both cleanup and for natural resource injuries.

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NJDEP Natural Resource Restoration
http://www.nj.gov/dep/nrr/

 

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Last Updated: December 6, 2005