New Jersey sued three companies Tuesday for allegedly polluting drinking water with so-called “forever chemicals” that have been associated with certain types of cancer and may harm fetuses and newborns.
The state Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) filed a lawsuit claiming that the companies have continued to release and failed to clean up pollutants, resulting in contaminated drinking water on opposite sides of the state, the Associated Press reported. Solvay Specialty Polymers USA, Arkema Inc, and Honeywell International are all named in the lawsuit as allegedly being responsible for the polluting. (RELATED: Here’s How Trump’s Environmental Legacy Stacks Up With Obama’s Record)
The “forever chemicals” have been used for over 60 years to create stain-proof clothing and non-stick cookware. The chemicals get their name because of their inability to break down, meaning they accumulate in the air, water, soil, and fish. Forever chemicals have been associated with several illnesses including kidney and testicular cancer and can harm fetuses and newborns, according to the report.
A 2007 – 2009 survey found that part of the Delaware River in Gloucester County had the highest levels of contamination by toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the world at that time, according to the Associated Press. New Jersey officials said that in 2014, a drinking water supply in Paulsboro was found to have the highest levels of contamination anywhere in the world.
Scientists have found that a soil microbe found in New Jersey wetlands can break down harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Often referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are found in household products like non-stick pans and dental floss. https://t.co/Dzu4rODfRo pic.twitter.com/WFtNHGYAch
— Yale Environment 360 (@YaleE360) September 29, 2019
“The days of free passes and soft landings for polluters in New Jersey are over,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said according to the Associated Press. “The corporations we’re suing knew full well the potential harms they were inflicting on our environment but chose to forge ahead anyway.”
“When companies disregard the laws meant to protect our environment, they can expect to pay,” Grewal added.
The lawsuit also alleges that there are multiple groundwater pollutants at the Quanta property, which was closed in 1981. The hazardous substances include arsenic, asbestos, benzene, chromium, lead, PCBs, and other pollutants, which exist in the property’s groundwater, soil, and wetlands, the lawsuit alleges. Honeywell is the successor to several entities that operated there since the early 1900s.
For years, environmental officials in New Jersey have been trying to collect damages for polluted drinking water. Three lawsuits are still pending from 2018 regarding pollution in 4 locations in New Jersey, the Associated Press reported. DuPont, ExxonMobil, Sherwin Williams, and other companies were sued in 2019 for pollution in 9 locations around New Jersey.