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NJDEP sues chemical companies over alleged public drinking water contamination

In November 2020, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) filed suit against multiple chemical manufacturers. The complaint alleges that discharge from the defendant manufacturers’ facilities has contaminated public drinking water as well as caused other environmental concerns in Gloucester County, New Jersey.

The DEP asserts that the defendant manufactures released polyfluoroalkyl substances, more commonly known as “PFAS,” into the surrounding environment for decades. The DEP regulates specific types of PFAS by adopting safe drinking water standards that set the maximum allowable limits for specific substances. For example, PFNA, the substance the DEP is most concerned about in this recent case, has a limit of 13 ppt (parts per trillion). The DEP alleges in its complaint that the public water systems affected by the defendants’ discharges have historically tested at more than eleven times the regulatory limit.

The DEP brings this action under the Spill Act, the Water Pollution Control Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act amongst others. All of these statutes share a common goal of safeguarding the health and welfare of the people of the state and the environment. PFNAs and other forms of PFAS present huge threats to humans and the environment as these chemicals are nearly impossible to break down naturally and are often nonresponsive to modern water treatments. Local environmental groups say this is long overdue, but have commended the DEP for taking initiative to go after these companies.


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