CERCLA Cost Recovery Action Filed Against New Jersey Superfund Site Businesses

Together, the United States, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the administrator of the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund have filed a lawsuit last week in the District of New Jersey alleging violations of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act. The plaintiffs seek to recover costs they incurred managing the release or threatened release of hazardous substances at the 1.23 acre Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation Superfund Site located in Fairfax, N.J.

The complaint states that the defendants are four entities who have owned or operated unspecified businesses on the Superfund site at relevant times: Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation, Cardean, LLC, Frameware, Inc., and Profiles, LLC. The filing explains that in 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called for the demolition of a building and the remediation of surrounding contaminated debris and soil at an expected cost of $18.1 million. Another part of the site is currently the subject of a groundwater, surface water, and sediment contamination study, according to the complaint.

The federal government claims that as of the end of 2019, it had spent approximately $8.7 million in response costs that the defendants are jointly and severally liable for. For New Jersey’s part, it contends that it spent an unspecified sum on hazardous substance removal and clean-up costs that the defendants are also jointly and severally liable for. The filing seeks a declaratory judgment on the defendants’ liability that will be binding in any subsequent cost actions and an order requiring the defendants to reimburse the governments for their expenditures.

The United States is represented by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the United States Attorney’s Office. New Jersey is represented by the Attorney General of New Jersey.