New Jersey Authorities Crack Down on Environmental Violations, Secure $8 Million in Penalties
In a sweeping enforcement initiative, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette have announced the resolution of four significant environmental lawsuits and the initiation of six new enforcement actions aimed at protecting public health and promoting environmental justice in at-risk communities.
Who: Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and DEP Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette, under the Murphy Administration which began this initiative in 2018.
What: Announced the resolution of four major environmental lawsuits and the start of six new enforcement actions.
When: The announcement was made on September 28, 2023, with court orders and legal actions spanning from August 2022 to September 2023.
Where: The actions span multiple locations in New Jersey, notably including Newark, Palmyra, Hammonton, and Camden.
Why: These actions aim to protect public health, enforce environmental laws, and remedy longstanding injustices affecting low-income communities and communities of color.
How: Legal actions have been taken against companies and individuals, securing millions in penalties and requiring environmental remediations.
- Statewide Illegal Dumping Scheme: A court order has mandated 24 defendants to stop working in the solid waste industry, remove deposited waste, and pay $8 million in penalties. The scheme was largely centered in Newark.
- Palmyra Case: Fillit and Jersey Recycling Corporation will create a 31.34-acre conservation easement along Pennsauken Creek, remediate waste, close the landfill, and pay $4,012,000 in penalties.
- Unsafe Wells in Hammonton: A court order has required the shutdown of unsafe wells and the drilling of new wells to provide safe drinking water for migrant workers and their families at the Blueberry Bill farm.
- Camden Soil and Groundwater Contamination: British Petroleum has agreed to fully remediate soil and groundwater contamination at Monk’s Amoco, compensate DEP $260,000, and pay up to $100,000 to the City of Camden.
“Thanks to Governor Murphy, New Jersey is a national leader in the fight to secure environmental justice in communities that for far too long were ignored,” stated Attorney General Platkin. “On our watch and in conjunction with the DEP, we have filed 62 enforcement actions and secured nearly $28.8 million in penalties and more than $1 million in damages for the State.”
“These cases reflect DEP’s ongoing commitment to ensuring the cleanup of contaminated sites, especially those in communities with environmental justice concerns where the proliferation of contaminated sites is often greatest,” said Commissioner LaTourette.
While these actions have state-wide implications, they have a direct impact on the residents of Northern New Jersey. The state's steps continue to signal stronger enforcement of environmental laws, which could influence local policy and community well-being.
Residents should remain vigilant and be wary of “clean” or “free” soil or fill advertisements, as advised by the DEP. For further information on soil dumping protection, visit New Jersey DEP.
Through a series of legal actions, the state of New Jersey has signaled its commitment to combating environmental degradation and ensuring justice for its overburdened communities. The steps taken demonstrate a focus on actively redressing past and ongoing environmental injustices, with more actions expected in the near future.