By David Madden

FRANKLINVILLE, N.J. (CBS) – A New Jersey Superior Court Judge this week ruled that those who owned a thermometer factory turned into a day care center have to reimburse the state for cleaning up the site in rural Gloucester County.

“Kiddie Kollege” in Franklinville was shut down in 2005. The building was later demolished and the ground was remediated at state expense.

Judge Anne McDonnell ruled that more than $6-million be paid back by those responsible for the problem, including the owner of Accutherm – now out of business – and the real estate company that later bought the building and rented it out to a daycare operator.

“One being the polluter who’s responsible for the mercury presence in the property and the other being the purchaser who has a significant due diligence responsibility and failed in fulfilling that responsibility,” says acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman.

More than 100 kids were exposed to mercury vapors for a year-and-a-half. A separate fund’s been set up to monitor their health long-term.

McDonnell’s decision could be appealed by either defendant.

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