The Murphy administration is taking legal action to seek damages for pollution that affected properties and natural resources in New Jersey.
Six separate lawsuits have been filed to get compensation for the harm pollution caused to groundwater and wetlands and recover the state’s costs for environmental cleanups.
Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe says all residents deserve to have the environment they live in protected so they can have healthy and productive lives.
“And we will use the full extent of our legal authority to make sure that happens. Message: If you make a mess, clean it up, or we will be sure that you do and pay for it.”
Three of the lawsuits are the first natural resource damage cases initiated by the state in a decade. They’re aimed at getting compensation for the harm pollution caused at the Pohatcong Valley Superfund site, the Port Reading refinery, and the site of a former manufactured gas plant in Atlantic City.
The others include a former gas station site in Woodbridge, a former manufacturing facility in Newark where a school was built after the state remediated contaminated soil, and a former cigarette lighter plant in Newark where homes were built and contaminated groundwater exposed residents to harmful vapors before equipment to prevent that was installed.
Greg Remaud with New York New Jersey Baykeeper says the enforcement actions are critical to making public trust resources and urban communities whole.
“When there’s no enforcement as there hasn’t been for the last 10 years, these areas languish. This isn’t going to be stood for anymore and good things are going to happen. Polluters are going to be made to clean up the air, the water, the land that they’ve spoiled.”
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal calls it a new day for environmental enforcement and says more cases are in the pipeline.
“We are going to hold polluters in New Jersey accountable no matter how big you are, no matter how powerful you are, no matter how long you’ve been getting away with it.”