DuPont, Newark agree to settle lawsuits over toxic former factory

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on July 20, 2015

NEWARK – The city has reached an agreement with Dupont to settle lawsuits claiming the chemical giant failed to clean up a former factory in the Ironbound District laden that it left laden with toxic materials.

Under the terms of the deal, DuPont will take steps to remediate environmental issues at the 14-acre site at 256 Vanderpool Avenue, and pay the city $108,000 to hire an expert that will track the cleanup's progress.

The agreement will need to garner final approval from the city's Municipal Council at a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Newark officials announced their lawsuits in both federal and state court in March, claiming that DuPont and several other companies who operated at the former pigment factory ignored orders from the state Department of Environmental Protection to clean up the toxic chemicals, including Hexavalent Chromium, lead and arsenic.

Earlier this year, DuPont said it had already committed to cleaning up the site regardless of the litigation, with work scheduled to be complete in early 2016.

DuPont said the property now belongs to The Chemours Company, a newly-formed subsidiary.

Robin Ollis Stemple, communications manager for the company, said it expects "the vast majority" of soil remediation efforts to be completed within a year after the settlement is finalized. The remainder of the work will be completed by an unspecified developer set to begin construction at the former factory.

City spokeswoman Marjorie Harris referred all comment on the settlement to Corporation Counsel Willie Parker, who could not immediately be reached for comment on the settlement Monday morning.

DuPont purchased the Vanderpool Street facility in 1917, using it to manufacture large amounts of pigments for use in printing ink, plastics and paint, according to the city's lawsuit.

The company remained there until 1984, when it sold the building to Heubach Inc. It was then taken over by Cookson Pigments Inc. in 1988, which remained there until abandoning the site in 1999.

Newark's federal lawsuit claimed that the spread of pollutants including Hexavlent Chromium – made famous by the 2000 movie "Erin Brockovich" – posed a "significant risk" to residents and the environment, though DuPont contended the site posed no immediate harm.

In a suit filed in state court, the city was also seeking to recover millions of dollars to make up for the tax revenue it did not collect on the property.

It is unclear if there are any specific development plans for the site once the environmental cleanup has been completed.

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