Standing on the bank where the Passaic River meets the Newark Bay in New Jersey, Oswaldo Avad reels in a small bluefish and a piece of a grocery bag. “One piece plastic and one fish,” Avad said in broken English. The Passaic River is one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the country. More than 100 companies are potentially responsible for dumping toxic waste in it for decades before that was outlawed. Fifty-four of the liable companies have formed a consortium and given Rutgers University $1.1 million to create a fish exchange program. Rutgers buys young tilapia from a fish farm in New Jersey and raises them in a Newark greenhouse. The waste produced by the fish is used to grow lettuce and herbs for a local food bank.
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