By Peter Chawaga
With nearly one in five New Jersey residents receiving tap water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the local governor has ordered industrial polluters to help find a solution.
“Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has ordered five companies responsible for widespread pollution of drinking water systems to spend millions of dollars to assess the extent of contamination and eventually clean up the pollution,” according to NorthJersey.com. “The directive by the state Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] targets some of the biggest chemical manufacturers in the nation: 3M, DuPont, DowDuPont, Chemours and Solvay.”
These industrial operations contaminated drinking water sources with PFAS through the production of non-stick pans, polishes, paints, firefighting foams, cleaning products, and more. The companies are charged with providing insight into their own history with PFAS and will eventually be asked to contribute to cleanup costs.
“The DEP’s directive requires the companies to turn over detailed accounts of their use of the chemicals in New Jersey within 21 days,” per The Philadelphia Inquirer. “State officials will estimate future cleanup costs at a meeting with the companies in the next month. The state has already spent more than $3 million to investigate and clean up contamination surrounding Solvay’s West Deptford site, officials said, which it is now asking Solvay to repay.”
While the U.S. EPA is looking into stricter standards around PFAS contamination in drinking water, afflicted communities around the country are looking to deal with the problem themselves. The action in New Jersey may provide a roadmap for other local governments, but it was achieved through a state-specific regulation.
“The case is built on New Jersey’s Spill Act, which allows the state to seek damage claims against polluting entities,” NorthJersey.com reported. “Larry Hajna, a DEP spokesman, likened the directive to litigation the state undertook against Sunoco, BP and Shell over MTBE contamination that netted the state $350 million in recent years.”
Still, the development is certainly a positive for consumers and regulators in New Jersey who continue to seek solutions to the pervasive PFAS contamination that has affected their drinking water for years.
To read more about the rules that affect industrial wastewater, visit Water Online’s Wastewater Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.