Major Natural Resource Damage Claim with DuPont Settled
National Driller July 2005 e-Newsletter
In one of the largest natural resource damage settlements in New Jersey state history, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley Campbell has announced an agreement with E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. (“DuPont”) to compensate the public for injuries to ground water at eight hazardous sites in New Jersey. The settlement includes preservation of 1,875 acres of land, planting of 3,000 trees in urban areas, payment of $500,000 to the state for water restoration projects and construction of a boat ramp along the Salem River.
“This settlement exemplifies a new paradigm for companies to resolve their natural resource damage liabilities in New Jersey,” says Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. “Long-standing damage claims are translating directly into permanent conservation of land and water resources, as well as expanded public access to natural resources.”
The “resource-to-resource” form of compensation developed by the state avoids costly litigation and complex, time-consuming monetary valuation of natural resource injuries by focusing on restoration and land preservation projects. DEP used this method after DuPont approached the state willing to settle its NRD liability for contaminating 2,400 acres of ground water. In the resource-to-resource compensation model, DuPont had to protect an equivalent area of land with a high aquifer-recharge rate. Since DuPont only offered 1,875 acres as compensation, DEP required additional environmental projects to make up for the acreage difference.
“The DuPont settlement represents the largest in-kind compensation package ever obtained for damages to the state's ground water resources,” says Commissioner Campbell. “New Jersey is the only state in the nation systematically pursuing natural resource damage claims, and this settlement illustrates our strong preference for on-the-ground restoration rather than cash recoveries.”
DEP is overseeing ground water testing and cleanup work by DuPont at all eight contaminated sites, which are either presently or formerly owned by the company.