New Jersey officials launch 6 lawsuits against polluters

Posted: Updated:

New Jersey is launching six new lawsuits against polluters after a nearly 10-year hiatus.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal stood with Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe and Acting Gov. Sheila Oliver to announce the new policy Wednesday in Newark, near the site of the Ronson Metals Corporation, a former cigarette lighter plant.  Houses were built on the former site, and the land soaked up chemicals, which subsequently went into the groundwater.  The chemicals could lead to neurological and respiratory illnesses. 

The cases include two sites in Newark, two in Woodbridge and one each in Atlantic City and Warren County.

Some of the money that officials hope to get from the lawsuits will go to help cover the costs of the cleanup of these sites. 

News 12 New Jersey spoke with some of the Newark residents who are living in the area affected by the contamination.

“These homes should never have been built here, period,” says Newark advocate Christian Rodriguez. “How many people purchased these homes? How much money has been spent on these homes? It’s just, it’s sad.”

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection previously installed air filtration systems in the area to help keep the toxic vapors out of the air. But that is already too late for some of the area children who have asthma.

“It’s like, I can’t breathe when I cough. When I cough, it’s nonstop,” says 10-year-old Sharod Brown.

Grewal says it's the largest single-day action the state has taken in at least a decade and the first new natural resources damages case since 2008. 

He said that the Christie administration did not file any natural resources damage cases, which can often net millions for the state.

Grewal said he didn't have an estimate for what the state might recover financially, but said the cases could take a long time to prosecute.

The Associated Press Wire Services contributed to this report.

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