A Rutgers study finds that 40 years after it was first identified, whats known as "legacy pollution" from mercury still plagues a tributary of the Hackensack River in the Meadowlands.

Study lead author John Reinfelder says the mercury contamination in Berry's Creek and its tributary, Peach Island Creek in Bergen County, is "well at its peak at the highest concentrations," with some of the "highest concentrations of mercury that have been found in North America."

Mercury is a developmental neurotoxin that can harm a developing fetus and children up to 6 years old. It also is detrimental to wildlife.

The creek winds through Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Lyndhurst, Moonachie, Rutherford, Teterboro and Wood-Ridge.

The Ventron/Velsicol site shut down about 40 years ago and was declared an EPA Superfund site. Reinfelder said the land was protected by just a chainlink fence, "so the contamination continued to leak out."

About 15 years ago, some of the soil was cleaned upland.  Last year, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency earmarked $332 million for the Berry's Creek mercury cleanup.

The Rutgers study will serve as a guide for state and federal officials.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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