New Jersey Sues Paint Company for Water Contamination
New Jersey has recently initiated a lawsuit against Sherwin-Williams for contamination left behind at its manufacturing site. The property, located in Voorhees and Gibbsboro in Camden County, is owned by Sherwin-Williams and was operated as a manufacturing site from the 1930s to 1978. During that time, several toxic chemicals were discharged on the site, including arsenic, lead, solvents, various polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, semi-volatile organic compounds, and pesticides.
The worst of the contamination can be traced back to fires in 1930, 1940, and 1949 that blew up drums of paint thinners and lacquers. What did not burn and get released into the air was discharged to the ground, reaching both ground and surface waters in the area.
As a result of the discharges, Hilliards Creek, Bridgewater Lake, and Cooper River, as well as adjacent wetlands and nearby wildlife, have all been contaminated. Unfortunately, cleanup never occurred on-site, even after the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) pursued enforcement efforts to that end.
Sherwin-Williams ignored orders to clean up the site as far back as 1978. It shut down operations because of NJDEP’s enforcement efforts, leaving the site vacant and contaminated. NJDEP issued an administrative consent order in 1987 and followed that with enforcement efforts between 1992 and 2001. These were unsuccessful in getting the company to clean up the site, which is now on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL).
The lawsuit filed by the Attorney General seeks to recover damages from Sherwin-Williams for:
- Injury caused to natural resources
- Cleanup and removal costs that the State has already incurred
- Anticipated costs of continued cleanup
New Jersey Ramps Up Efforts to Recover Damages
New Jersey has hosted several manufacturing sites over the years. Many owners have moved manufacturing to different locations or vacated property while leaving behind hazardous substance contamination. This often leaches out of the area to groundwater and nearby surface waters. Cleanup of these sites involves extensive evaluation and expensive remediation.
The head of NJDEP said the department has an unwavering commitment to go beyond cleanup of contaminated sites to require restoration of or compensation for the damage done to natural resources. Enforcing the state’s laws against past abuses will put New Jersey on track toward a cleaner, healthier future for its citizens.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund, was enacted in 1980 to help deal with the aftermath of environmental contamination. It established a trust fund to pay for cleanup efforts at abandoned sites. EPA administers the program and performs short and long-term remedial response efforts to address hazardous substances. The owners of the contaminated site are sued to recover costs of the cleanup. Sites that qualify for the program are listed on the NPL.
This is not the first lawsuit filed by the NJDEP demanding compensation from
corporate entities responsible for contaminating New Jersey’s natural resources.
Last year, the NJDEP instituted lawsuits against other chemical companies, including DuPont, The Chemours Company, and chemical manufacturer 3M for their contamination of ground water stemming from these company’s sites located in Gibbstown, Old Bridge Township, Pompton Lakes, Pennsville, and Carneys Point Township. The lawyers at Williams Cedar also filed a lawsuit on behalf of 11 families against those entities and the additional chemical company, Solvay, seeking recovery for the individual damages they sustained as a result of the contamination stemming from those sites and the additional Solvay site located in West Deptford.
Philadelphia Environmental Contamination Lawyers at Williams Cedar Fight for Victims Suffering from Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
If you became ill due to exposure to hazardous substances in your drinking water or environment, contact a Philadelphia environmental contamination lawyer at Williams Cedar today. We will review your case and determine the next best steps. Our experienced trial lawyers have litigated matters involving exposure to toxic chemicals, as well as environmental toxic tort claims. For a free consultation, call us at 215-557-0099 or complete an online form. Located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and nationwide.