Two Companies Sued Over Environmental Pollution Contribution

A suit was filed on Monday in the District of New Jersey by plaintiff Weston Solutions, Inc. and defendants EPEC Polymers, Inc. and Gredel Properties, LLC. The complaint for declaratory relief and apportionment of responsibility is over the defendant’s alleged violations of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) and the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (NJ Spill Act).

The complaint details that the defendants reportedly released “hazardous substances into and along Crows Mill Creek and associated wetlands in the Fords section of Woodbridge Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey.”

The plaintiff is an environmental remediation services company, whose responsibilities are to investigate and remediate any pollution conditions that are assigned to them. In the early 2000’s, pollutants were located at the Hatco Facility, or Hatco Remediation Site, including polychlorinated biphenyls and Bis(2-ethylexyl) phthalate. Both pollutants are designated as hazardous under CERCLA and the NJ Spill Act.

The owners of Hatco at the time agreed with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assign the plaintiff the duty of investigating and remediating the Hatco Remediation Site.

The defendants are the current and/or former owners of the three separate industrial facilities (offsite facilities) located just downstream from the Hatco Facility. The complaint explains that for “at least 70 years, industrial operations at the offsite facilities released hazardous substances consisting of polychlorinated biphenyls, Bis(2-ethylexyl) phthalates, and other toxic contaminants into the Wetland.”

The plaintiff worked on the Hatco Remediation Site and its associated wetland up through 2020. The wetland’s area of concern for Hatco’s hazardous substances coincided with the defendant’s runoff areas. When the plaintiff completed an extensive delineation of hazardous substances in the wetland, they found that “the offsite facilities – and not the Hatco Facility – were responsible for the vast majority of the contamination in the Wetland.” It was found that pollutants existed in higher concentrations closer to the defendant’s facilities.

The plaintiff asserts that they have incurred around $3 million in costs for its Wetland investigations, when the offsite facilities were responsible for a far greater amount of the pollution.

The complaint cites cost recovery under CERCLA, contribution under the NJ Spill Act, common law contribution, and declaratory relief under CERCLA. The plaintiff is seeking favorable judgment for each count, an injunction requiring the defendants to further investigate the wetland, litigation fees, and any other relief deemed appropriate by the Court.

The plaintiff is represented in the litigation by Cozen O’Connor.