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
“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
“ 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.