On the heels of the six environmental enforcement lawsuits they filed in August, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and NJDEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced eight brand new environmental enforcement lawsuits filed today. The suits relate to sites scattered throughout the state – Camden, Flemington, Newark, Palmyra, Pennsauken, Phillipsburg and Trenton – mapped out here. The main focus for this wave of cases is environmental justice, which means environmental enforcement that is focused on addressing pollution and environmental hazards in minority and lower-income communities. Environmental justice is very much on the Murphy Administration radar.
One of the cases, involving the alleged pollution of drinking water drawn from the Puchack Wellfield in Pennsauken, Camden County, asserts claims for natural resource damages, known as “NRDs.” There hadn’t been an NRD case filed in New Jersey for almost a decade until this past August, when the state filed three such cases.
The state is seeking remedies across the board from the various defendants – cleanup and removal of contamination, financial penalties, recovery of tax monies spent by the state to clean up polluted sites, as well as NRDs. The dollar amount of each of these types of remedies can add up very quickly, so we are talking about real money here. The state just took another big action showing it may very well be a “new day” in environmental enforcement in New Jersey.