Enthusiastic Response to Passaic River Symposium

Thursday, July 1, 2010 - 3:34pm
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Environmental Restoration from Different Perspectives

SymposiumFrom park planning along the Newark waterfront to the debate over a lawsuit to force polluters to bear the cost of river restoration, the Fourth Passaic River Symposium on June 22 offered plenty to think about.

Sponsored by the Passaic River Institute at Montclair State University, the symposium featured more than 300 educators, environmentalists, scientists, legislators, and industry representatives, including Judith Enck, Region 2 administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Bob Martin, Commissioner of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection; Congressman Bill Pascrell; and Colonel John R. Boulé II, commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District.

Because of our region’s population density, it should come as no surprise that New Jersey, the Hudson River Valley, and New YorA debate ensued between Rep. Pascrell and Commissioner Martin over a lawsuit to force Occidental Chemical Corp., Maxus Energy Corp. and Tierra Solutions Inc. to pay for clean-up of dioxin pollution caused by the manufacturing of Agent Orange by the former Diamond Alkali plant in Newark. "We believe the most effective way to clean up that river is to continue litigation. We also believe that it's long overdue that those companies pay and that we extract a level of justice from those companies for that cleanup over the long haul," Commissioner Martin was quoted as saying at the symposium. (See the news story in the The Record). Countering him was Congressman Pascrell, who criticized the litigation. "While we have made important strides in recent years in getting many of the principal stakeholders on the Passaic to pull together on a cooperative basis, we are disheartened that the effort is collapsing unnecessarily into a litigious morass due to the state lawsuit," reads part of a letter later sent by Rep. Pascrell to Governor Christie, as noted in The Record's article.

Passaic River EdgeIn another symposium session, waterfront planner Damon Rich described the drive to build public access and facilities along the Newark riverfront, and the outcome of a recent series of town hall meetings to produce a community-based design. Click here to read more about this effort.

At right, see a photo of the current state of part of the Newark riverfront. Below is a proposal from Newark's nonprofit social service organization Ironbound Community Corporation.

Ironbound

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