A Superior Court judge has ruled that multiple defendants are responsible for the $6.13 million to cover the cost of removing mercury contamination at the site of a former day care center in Franklin Township, Gloucester County.

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Judge Anne McDonnell found that the current property owner, and associated defendants, as well the previous property owner, must share in the Kiddie Kollege remediation costs.

A thermometer-making factory discharged mercury at the site before it was purchased and leased for use as a day care facility, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said.

“In New Jersey, we hold firmly to the principle that those responsible for cleanups should be held liable for the cost of that work,” said DEP commissioner Bob Martin. “This ruling holds particular significance because this pollution so directly impacted children and their families."

Kiddie Kollege stopped operations in July 2006 and has since been razed.

Mercury is toxic to humans when ingested or inhaled, the DEP noted.