New Jersey AG and DEP file lawsuits targeting polluters in state’s low-income and minority communities

Cyril Josh Barker | 10/31/2019, 12:30 p.m.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe recently filed six new ...
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New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe recently filed six new enforcement actions targeting polluters in minority and lower-income communities across the Garden State.

The lawsuits focus on sites in Newark, Trenton, East Orange, Kearny and Camden. The complaints describe a range of environmental misconduct, including companies that have released hazardous and toxic substances into the surrounding soil and water and individuals who allowed massive amounts of waste to pile up in a residential neighborhood.

“Our message to polluters is once again clear: you cannot pollute the state’s air, water, or land and get away with it under our watch,” Grewal said. “No matter whether a company is releasing hazardous substances into the soil or an individual is maintaining an illegal dump in a residential neighborhood, we will take them to court. That is the kind of environmental commitment that all of our communities deserve.”

The companies named in the lawsuit are Nanes Metal Finishing Company, Sainte Marie Dry Cleaners, Schofield Cleaners, Auto Scrap and Gas Mart.

The suits in Newark and Trenton involve companies that released hazardous substances at their properties and refused to clean them up. Nanes Metal Finishing operated a metals finishing, assembly and production business in Newark. In 2000, DEP discovered a number of chemicals used in metal finishing and production operations in the soil and groundwater at the site.

The discharges included TCE (trichloroethylene) and PCE (perchloroethylene). Exposure to the chemicals has been linked to kidney dysfunction, respiratory tract irritation and cognitive and neurological effects.

In addition to announcing the civil enforcement actions, Grewal also issued a new handbook for law enforcement officers across the state on how to enforce environmental criminal laws.