Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Agencies to study natural resource injuries at Superfund site in Newark
Final assessment plan available, specific study plans to follow

February 10, 2020

Contact(s):

Meagan Racey, meagan_racey@fws.gov, 413-253-8558

Tom Brosnan, tom.brosnan@noaa.gov, 240-533-0431



NEWARK, New Jersey – As federal trustees for natural resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will soon begin studies to assess injuries related to the release of hazardous substances from or near the Diamond Alkali Superfund site in North Jersey. Procedures for evaluating injuries to natural resources, such as fish, birds or shellfish, are captured in the final damage assessment plan released today by the agencies. The agencies will invite public comment on step-down plans for individual studies.

The Diamond Alkali Superfund site is extensive, including the 17.4 miles of the Passaic River from its confluence with the Newark Bay to Dundee Dam; the Newark Bay; the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull; and tidal portions of the Hackensack River.

Under federal law, federal and state agencies and Native American tribes are authorized to act as trustees on behalf of the public for natural resources they own, manage or control. In this role, trustees assess the injuries to natural resources from hazardous substance releases, and work to achieve restoration of these injuries and resulting losses. The goal of natural resource damage assessment and restoration is to replace, restore or acquire the equivalent of the resources and recreational opportunities affected by contamination – at no cost to taxpayers. Additionally, the agencies will invite potentially responsible parties to participate in a cooperative damage assessment, which can provide a more rapid path to restoration and can significantly decrease costs. This process is distinct from cleanup activities overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In coming months, the agencies will release step-down plans for studies that will analyze injuries such as lost reproduction of fish or birds. The plans will incorporate baseline information on natural resources and their exposure to hazardous substances gathered in recent years through preliminary investigations. The agencies aim to collect critical data before, during and after cleanup dredging estimated by the EPA to begin in 2021.

The anticipated studies are intended to provide results that will assist the trustees in assessing the scope and scale of injuries, and in turn help consider the type and quantity of restoration. Remedial actions and natural resource damage assessment activities at sites as expansive and complex as the Diamond Alkali Superfund site often take years to complete.

A responsiveness summary attached to the final assessment plan addresses public comment on the draft assessment plan. Future public opportunities include input on plans to study specific natural resource injuries and in restoration planning.

The final damage assessment plan is available at the following links:

  • https://www.diver.orr.noaa.gov/web/guest/diver-admin-record?diverWorkspaceSiteId=6233 
  • https://tinyurl.com/DiamondAlkaliAssessmentPlan


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