How did the passaic river, a superfund site near newark, new jersey, become an agent orange dioxin tcdd hotspot?

Kenneth R. Olson, Mike Tharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Passaic River parallels the Hudson River and was an industrial river, which included plants that manufactured Agent Orange that was used in the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Stretches of river along Newark are postindustrial, abandoned landscapes, and the sediment at the mouth of the Passaic River near Newark Bay remains contaminated with dioxin TCDD, PCBs, and Hg. The USEPA designated a 27 km (16 mi) stretch of the Passaic River as a Superfund site. In 2013 several corporations agreed to pay New Jersey US130 million for ecological damages related to the Passaic River pollution (Baxter 2011). To date, US1.38 billion have been spent on cleanup. The USEPA estimated the remaining cost of cleanup of the lower Passaic River and Newark Bay at US6 billion in addition to US6 billion for past natural resource damages. After 50 years, US companies, such as Diamond Alkali (now Diamond Shamrock), stopped manufacturing Agent Orange with the by-product dioxin TCDD. However, the contaminant with a very long half-life when attached to sediment under anaerobic conditions remains an environmental problem in the tidal Passaic River and Newark Bay. To this day fish and crabs from the Passaic River are too contaminated with dioxin TCDD for human consumption and remain a threat to the food supply and human health (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection 2009).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33A-37A
JournalJournal of Soil and Water Conservation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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