By Karen Zautyk
Back in the mid-20th century, Hudson County was a center for the production of chromium chemicals, with three of the nation’s six manufacturers of them located here – two in Jersey City and one, the Diamond Alkali Co., at 1015 Belleville Tpke., Kearny.
Diamond Alkali, later Diamond Shamrock, operated there from 1948 until 1976, producing the chromium used, as the state Department of Environmental Protection explains, in “a variety of industrial applications including metal plating, the manufacture of stainless steel and the production of colored glass.”
But, as the DEP also notes, the chromium process produced something else: large quantities of waste, including “chromate ore processing residue, plus other contaminant byproducts.” One element of chromate ore waste, the agency says, was “a highly toxic heavy metal that has been linked to a variety of health problems.”
Additionally, as alleged in a lawsuit filed by the State of New Jersey in 2005, chromate ore processing waste “was sold to entrepreneurs who in turn sold it to construction companies for use as fill in sewer line installation and other projects,” and that toxic waste “has lingered at a variety of sites throughout Hudson County and, over time, has created serious environmental and public health concerns.”