National Park, NJ Residents File Class Action Against Solvay, Arkema
The owners of four homes in the Borough of National Park have filed a class action lawsuit charging companies associated with a West Deptford chemical facility with polluting the municipal wells that supply them their drinking water. The complaint, Severa, et al. v. Solvay Specialty Polymers, USA, LLC, et al alleges that between 1988 and 2010, the operators of the plant at 10 Leonard Lane in West Deptford improperly released hundreds of metric tons of the toxic compound perfluorononanoic acid, known as PFNA into the surrounding soil, air and groundwater. PFNA is one of a family of “forever chemicals” that have recently come to the forefront of public and regulatory attention. Arkema, Inc. owned the facility until 2000, when it sold it to a corporate predecessor of Solvay, which currently operates it.
PFNA was used at the West Deptford site in the manufacture of specialized, heat and abrasion-resistant plastics with many industrial applications. At one time, the plant was the second highest user of PFNA In the world.
PFNA does not degrade regularly in the environment and has been associated with several toxic and immunological effects in humans. The State of New Jersey has established a “maximum contaminant level” of 13 parts per trillion in drinking water for the chemical. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection has issued a directive requiring Solvay to address widespread contamination of PFNA and related chemicals throughout the region. Since the second quarter of 2019, PFNA has been detected in National Park’s municipal water in excess of the MCL. The Borough has notified residents of the findings, and recommended the purchase of filtration systems to remove the contaminant.
The class action complaint demands damages for residents’ loss of property value, their loss of the “quiet enjoyment” of their properties, and the costs of remediation, including filters. It also seeks to compel defendants to remediate the contamination, and to fund a biomonitoring program to assess the levels and effects of PFNA in their bodies.
Plaintiffs are represented by the Haddonfield law firm, Williams Cedar, LLC. David Cedar, a partner in the firm said: “The more we learn about PFNA and its chemical cousins, the more concerned we should be about their irresponsible handling by large corporations and the not coincidental, lax federal oversight that went on for decades. This lawsuit is intended to take another step in holding responsible parties accountable for the misuse of these dangerous materials.”
By Gerald J. Williams, Esquire