LYNDHURST - Crews will begin dredging contaminants from the Passaic River as part of a much-needed multimillion-dollar project to clean up the polluted water.

Crews will use heavy machinery to dredge a portion of the river's banks in Lyndhurst beginning on Tuesday.

The Passaic is heavily polluted, mainly from a factory that dumped chemicals into the river while manufacturing Agent Orange in the 1960s.

The crews will scoop about 2 feet of mud from the banks, where a high concentration of poisonous dioxins have been found.

Experts think Hurricane Irene caused the dioxins to churn up from the bottom of the river, and were deposited near the surface.

Fishing is prohibited on the Passaic because of the pollution, and the river banks border several park areas.

"Most people are deathly afraid of the Passaic River now because they know how deadly this poison can be,” Hackensack Riverkeeper Capt. Bill Sheehan says.

After the contaminated mud is removed, crews will put a gravel and sand cap on top, according to Sheehan.

The cleanup is funded by about 70 companies, some of which are also responsible for polluting the Passaic River.

The $20 million dredging project is expected to take several months.