NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Parts of the Passaic River have been infested with cancer-causing chemicals for years.
The water is so dangerous fishing in the river has been banned.
Now, a major step forward in recovery is in motion as the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its largest proposed Superfund cleanup in the nation, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported Friday.
“This river is heavily contaminated with dioxin, PCBs, heavy metals like led and mercury, pesticides,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck said.
Due to all of the pollution in the water, New Jersey residents haven’t been able to eat any of the crab or fish in the river. People aren’t even allowed to swim, and wildlife is in danger.
“It is a witches’ brew of chemicals that unfortunately some of them cause cancer,” Enck said.
The EPA has proposed a dredging project for an 8-mile stretch of the troubled Passaic River, Sloan reported.
It is estimated to be a $1.7 billion project. The EPA said the cost will be paid for by the 200 companies that polluted the river, not by taxpayers.
“Right here in Newark, a company manufactured agent orange that was used during the Vietnam War and it was dumped into the land, it seeped into the river,” Enck said.
Back in the 80’s, former Gov. Tom Kean Sr. had the Diamond Alkali plant — the company responsible for agent orange — covered in cement to stop more chemicals from leaking into the river, Sloan reported.