Clean Water Action: Polluters Take Notice - A New Sheriff’s in Town!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
NJ_DEP AG polluter accountability_PFAS_Photo by David Pringle

Totowa, NJ - At a press conference today where Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced 4 natural resource damage (NRD) lawsuits against three of the largest corporate polluters across the state, Clean Water Action declared that there’s a new sheriff in town.

“The wild west days for polluters are over in the State of New Jersey. There's a new sheriff in town," said Amy Goldsmith, Clean Water Action's New Jersey State Director. "Finally, we are seeing the State take the reins, coming out strong, using the enforcement tools in its holster. We are thrilled that the Murphy Administration says we are not going to take it anymore."

Today’s lawsuit filings follow on the heels of the Murphy Administration’s order Monday that these polluters pay for additional treatment of private and public water supply wells as well as cleanup of contamination.

“This is a great one two punch to make polluters pay for the legacy of their pollution," said Goldsmith. "A stark contrast to both Governor Christie's failures and federal efforts to dismantle the EPA. Let’s hope the momentum continues by regulating greenhouse gases, the mother of all legacy pollutants."

Two of the lawsuits filed today focus on contamination allegedly caused by facilities owned by Delaware-based E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. and a chemical manufacturing company DuPont spun off in 2015, Chemours Co. The other two complaints name DuPont and Chemours as defendants as well, but they also name Minnesota-based 3M—the nation’s primary manufacturer of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Each lawsuit asserts claims under both the State’s Water Pollution Control Act and its Spill Compensation and Control Act, as well as a variety of tort claims relating to the contamination.

PFAS are classified as likely human carcinogens, with studies having shown that exposure to the chemicals may cause kidney, liver, and testicular cancer, as well as autoimmune and endocrine disorders in adults. PFAS have also been linked to developmental issues affecting fetuses during pregnancy and infants who breast-feed.

"New Jersey's toxic legacies are a tremendous burden in NJ on people's health, communities, and our economy," said Kim Gaddy, Environmental Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action. "These impacted communities have waited for justice for too long. Polluters need to be held responsible for cleaning up their own messes."

The other two lawsuits announced today center on contamination of groundwater, surface water, and other natural resources caused by releases of volatile and semivolatile organic compounds, mercury, lead and other contaminants from DuPont’s Repauno and Pompton Lakes facilities. Exposure to volatile organic compounds has been associated with respiratory problems, as well as allergic and immune effects in infants and children.  A variety of health issues have also been associated with exposure to lead and mercury contamination, including brain and kidney damage.

"We are glad to finally have an Administration that is committed to holding corporate polluters, like DuPont, Chemours, and 3M, accountable for their wrongdoing," said Gaddy. "Clean Water Action strongly believes that a foundation of strong environmental protections and an effective polluter accountability program will help prevent future communities from suffering similar disproportionate burdens."

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Clean Water Action has more than 150,000 members statewide in New Jersey and is the nation's largest grassroots group focused on water, energy and environmental health. Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. We will protect clean water in the face of attacks from a polluter friendly Administration and Congress. www.cleanwater.org/nj

 

Amy Goldsmith, Clean Water Action
732-895-2502
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