SUEZ Water Asks for DuPont to Fund its Upgrades to Comply With New Requirements

SUEZ Water New Jersey and SUEZ Water New York each filed a complaint in the District of New Jersey and the Southern District of New York, respectively, against E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) as well as Corteva and The Chemours Company, which are subsidiaries of DuPont, alleging that the companies have released hazardous substances into the states. 

Specifically, the chemical companies were accused of releasing per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) including perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid in each of the largely identical suits. The plaintiffs purported that they have suffered damages because the defendants released these substances into the air, water, and soil for over six decades and caused “widespread and long-lasting contamination to natural resources within and throughout (the states) including, pertinently, the water sources that Suez relies upon to provide safe drinking water.” 

Each complaint cited that in 2020 the respective states adopted Maximum Contaminant Levels for drinking water, requiring SUEZ to begin testing for PFAS and make upgrades to its treatment systems. The plaintiffs purported that because of the actions of DuPont they will be required to pay significant costs to operate and maintain upgrades and monitor PFAS, and that the defendants should be liable for these additional payments because the defendants should have been aware that their actions were releasing the harmful substances into the environment in New York and New Jersey. 

The New Jersey complaint said, “Only recently has the full scope of Defendants’ actions begun to come to light. Moreover, the emerging costs of remedying Defendants’ long-running contamination of New Jersey’s environment are substantial, and those costs have fallen disproportionately upon those whose responsibility it is to provide safe drinking water to New Jersey residents. Therefore, SUEZ brings this action against Defendants in an effort to hold them accountable for the significant harms done to New Jersey’s public water supplies and to ensure that SUEZ has the resources necessary to continue to provide its customers with drinking water that meets the NJDEP standards.”

The plaintiffs, represented by Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP, asked the court to find DuPont and the other named defendants liable for the harm to SUEZ and award monetary damages to allow them to create or obtain treatment systems to comply with the Maximum Contaminant Levels in both states, to maintain the systems, to monitor PFAS levels, and comply with newly-required public notice requirements.