Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe filed 12 environmental enforcement actions targeting polluters across New Jersey.
Specifically, the suits were brought against polluters who were threatening the health and safety of minority and lower-income communities in the state. Actions were taken to protect Newark, Orange, South Orange, Paterson, Jersey City, Elizabeth, Hillside, Fairton, and Upper Deerfield Township.
“In New Jersey, we’re committed to our pathbreaking approach to environmental enforcement, which ensures that our efforts to clean up our environment will also serve our comprehensive justice agenda for low-income communities and communities of color,” said Grewal.
Protecting the State’s Health During Pandemic
Grewal and McCabe had filed numerous lawsuits since 2018. These “Environmental Justice” lawsuits carry even more weight during the COVID-19 crisis, according to the officials.
The pollutants involved in the cases are known to contribute to a wide variety of health problems, ranging from respiratory tract irriation to chronically reduced lung function to cancer.
With the pandemic still an issue, these medical conditions were thought to exacerbate COVID-19 risks.
Strengthening a Commitment to the Environment
McCabe said the legal actions added to the Murphy Administration’s commitment to environmental justice. Additionally, it fit into its efforts to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves.
“Today’s lawsuits complement the many ways that we pursue environmental justice, standing with every New Jersey community and for the shared natural resources that unite us,” she said.
The complaints filed were brought under a variety of laws, including New Jersey’s Spill Compensation and Control Act, Water Pollution Control Act, Air Pollution Control Act, Solid Waste Management Act, Industrial Site Recovery Act and Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act.
Full Listing of Lawsuits
A full listing of the lawsuits is provided below:
- Former Penick Corp./Unilever, Newark: Natural Resource Damage (NRD) case, which involves groundwater contamination. Based on elevated concentrations of volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls and various metals. Defendants include: Penick Corp., Penick Realty, LLC, and Unilever United States, Inc.
- American Fabric Processors, Paterson: Emissions of volatile organic chemicals and NOx, and failure to perform required emissions tests. Defendants include American Fabric and two corporate officers, David and Jacob Binson.
- 125 Monitor Street JC, LLC, Jersey City: Soil and groundwater contamination, including with arsenic, copper, lead, petroleum, PCE and TCE. Defendant is 125 Monitor Street JC, LLC.
- Friends Gas Station, Newark: Gasoline-contaminated soil. Defendants include Little Mason Properties, LLC; Hassan and Friends Gas.
- Adolfo Auto Repair, Paterson: Failure to investigate and address potential petroleum product contamination. Owner removed two deteriorating underground tanks containing sediment and water/petroleum sludge years ago without a site investigation to identify any discharges of hazardous substances; still has not performed one. Defendant is Adolfo Gonzalez.
- Heba Auto Repair, Jersey City: Gasoline contamination. Underground storage tanks removed without necessary permits; site is alleged to have been back-filled with gasoline-contaminated soil. Owners not complying with DEP site investigation/remediation orders. Defendants are Fathi Hassanein and Alia Hassanein.
- Delta Gas Station, South Orange: Gasoline discharge contamination. Defendants include Wayne Sanford and Sanford Service, owners and operators at the time of the discharges, alongside current owner Little Mason Properties, LLC.
- Elizabeth Bolt and Nut, Elizabeth: Lead and petroleum contamination from industrial processes spanning decades. Defendants include Elizabeth Bolt & Nut Manufacturing Corporation, the Estate of Rose Haskell, Stemple Corporation, and current owner Aquaserv Bottled Water Service, Inc.
- 43-45 South Center Street, LLC (Orange Automotive): Gasoline and waste oil contamination. Owner failed to comply with 2019 order to remediate the contamination caused by discharges from multiple underground storage tanks. Defendant is 43-45 South Center, LLC.
- Deerfield Organics, Upper Deerfield Township: Contaminated storm-water discharge. Prior owner improperly disposed of solid waste from recycling operations by burying the waste on-site, which has not been addressed by current owner. Defendants include Deerfield Organics, Nature’s Choice Recycling, and Harvest Garden State.
- 1576 Maple/Road Runner Fuel, Hillside: Elevated levels of dry cleaning chemicals PCE and TCE in the groundwater and indoor air (1576 Maple) and an unremoved underground storage tank system and gasoline discharge contamination (Road Runner Fuel). Defendants include Irfan Hassan; Little Mason Properties, LLC; Astro Cleaners; 1576 Maple Avenue Associates, LLC; and Road Runner Fuel Services, LLC.
- Hyman’s Automotive and Hyman Concrete & Construction, Fairfield Township: The issues the State is seeking to address include oil and hazardous fluids leaking from junk cars, and illegally stored and burned piles of wood and concrete. Defendants include Ennis Hyman, Gerald Hyman, and Hyman Concrete and Construction, LLC.