New Jersey Wins $17 Million Settlement in Chromium Case

A 20-year battle over chromium pollution in northern New Jersey came to an end yesterday when three companies agreed to pony up $17 million to clean hundreds of sites contaminated by the deadly chemical. From the 1890s to the 1950s, Honeywell International, Tierra Solutions, and PPG Industries made coatings for machine parts, a process that yielded chromium as a byproduct, some of which was dumped directly into the Hackensack River. Chromium-contaminated earth was then sold as landfill, resulting in homes and businesses being built on some of the most polluted soil in the country. The $17 million settlement comes in addition to other court-ordered cleanups (such as $400 million Honeywell will pay to clean a 34-acre site) and is earmarked for pollution cleanup, creation of parks and wetlands, and purchase of open space. Environmentalists welcomed the settlement as an end to costly litigation and a chance to begin cleaning things up, but some criticized the sum as “nickels and dimes.”