TRENTON, NJ – Two companies in Jersey City and two in Paterson are among those targeted in a lawsuit alleging they knowingly failed to contain pollutants on their properties, thereby putting the surrounding community at risk.
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced the filing of 12 new environmental enforcement actions targeting polluters across New Jersey whose actions threaten the health and safety of residents in minority and lower-income communities in Newark, Orange, South Orange, Paterson, Jersey City, Elizabeth, Hillside, Fairton and Upper Deerfield Township.
These lawsuits are a part of the State’s comprehensive justice agenda to address harms disproportionately affecting the public and environmental health of New Jersey’s low-income, non-English speaking and minority residents.
“In New Jersey, we’re committed to our path breaking approach to environmental enforcement, which ensures that our efforts to clean up our environment will also serve our comprehensive justice agenda for low-income communities and communities of color,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “Today’s twelve lawsuits, filed in cities and towns across our state, are a reflection of that commitment to environmental justice principles.
“The message to New Jersey residents should be clear: everyone, and I really mean everyone, deserves to breathe clean air and live in a safe environment.”
Many of the properties that are the subject to the complaints have pollutants known to contribute to health problems including respiratory tract irritation, chronically reduced lung function, kidney problems, neurological disorders and certain cancers, which may only exacerbate COVID-19 risks.
Heba Auto Repair in Jersey City, whose owners Fathi Hassanein and Alia Hassanein, who are said to not be complying with DEP orders, have been cited for gasoline contamination, removing underground storage tanks without necessary permits, and back-filling the site with gasoline-contaminated soil.
125 Monitor Street JC, LLC, Jersey City has been cited for soil and groundwater contamination, including with arsenic, copper, lead, petroleum, PCE and TCE.
In Paterson David and Jacob Binson have been, in connection with American Fabric Processors for whom they serve as corporate officers, cited for emissions of volatile organic chemicals and Nitrogen Oxide, and failure to perform required emissions tests.
Also cited in the suit is Adolfo Auto Repair for where the owner, identified as Adolfo Gonzalez, allegedly failed to investigate and address potential petroleum product contamination and removed two deteriorating underground tanks containing sediment and water/petroleum sludge years ago without a site investigation to identify any discharges of hazardous substances.
Since the announcement of the State’s environmental justice initiative in 2018, Attorney General Grewal and Commissioner McCabe have filed numerous lawsuits, making New Jersey a national leader in environmental justice enforcement, they said in a statement.
“The actions the DEP is taking exemplify the Murphy Administration’s deep commitment to principles of environmental justice and equity that strengthen all of our communities, especially those most vulnerable to environmental harm,” said Commissioner McCabe. “Together, we are holding accountable those who, by design or circumstance, disproportionately harm the environment and communities of our low-income and minority neighbors. Today’s lawsuits complement the many ways that we pursue environmental justice, standing with every New Jersey community and for the shared natural resources that unite us.”
The complaints seek a variety of remedies, including clean-up of contaminated properties and compliance with all outstanding DEP orders, payment of damages and penalties, reimbursement to the State for clean-up costs expended to date and, in certain instances, natural resource damages.