The Murphy administration announced Thursday it is filing eight lawsuits against companies it says are responsible for pollution in middle- and lower-income neighborhoods as part of what it is calling an “environmental justice” campaign.
The suits include a combination of reimbursement for taxpayer-funded cleanup of the sites, as well as reimbursement for the value of damaged natural resources.
“Environmental justice means that everyone, no matter race, ethnicity, color, national origin or income, deserves to live and work in a healthy and clean environment,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement. His office, along with the Department of Environmental Protection, filed the suits.
Two of the sites are in Newark; the others are in Philipsburg, Flemington, Trenton, Pennsauken, Palmyra and Camden.
Grewal said Thursday’s suits are “just the beginning of our environmental justice agenda” and his office plans to “repurpose existing resources and hire additional attorneys” for what will be called the Environmental Enforcement and Environmental Justice Section.
“For too long the residents of urban areas and other communities have not had their voices heard and have had to bear the burden of disproportionate sources of pollution and the consequent health effects,” DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe said in a statement.
One suit involves Monk's Amoco, the site of a former gas station in Camden, which the DEP had to clean up due to oil spills.
With Pennsauken, the state is suing SL Industries Inc. over pollution to the Puchack Wellfield, a series of wells that provided drinking water to nearby Camden but closed down due to heavy pollution.
In Palmyra, the state is suing Fillit Corp. for the cleanup its sand and gravel operations off Route 73, which heavily damaged the wetlands along the Pennsauken Creek.
The other defendants are Gulf Gas in Newark; 323 North Olden Avenue in Trenton; Novick Chemical Co. Inc. in Newark; Tirpok Cleaners in Flemington; and South Main & Hudson in Philipsburg.
The OAG and DEP announced six similar suits in August.