DuPont Loses Bid to Avoid N.J. Cleanup Liability

District Judge Michael Vasquez filed an opinion in a consolidated lawsuit brought by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection against E.I. du Pont de Nemours Friday, arising from alleged contamination of four different locations in New Jersey. The court rejected DuPont’s bid to dismiss liability relating to one of the four sites, the Chambers Works Site.

The lawsuit concerns contamination of the Chambers Works Site with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals that are behind many recent environmental lawsuits. The chemicals do not naturally degrade, the opinion writes, and can pose a health risk if accumulated into the bloodstream.

The plaintiffs allege that the defendants, a series of DuPont entities related by various transactions and restructurings, are in violation of the state’s Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA), a law that triggers when a polluting business is shut down or sold. Under the law, the opinion says, a triggering company must provide notice to the state agency and either independently clean the site or provide a funding source.

The defendants claim that ISRA does not apply to them, because of exceptions in the law. The court disagreed, rejecting the defendants’ contention that the court must follow agency guidance posted online.

“In large part, Movants ask the Court to consider information not appropriate at this stage; ask the Court to consider other information, the legal effect of which is not clear; and ask the Court to engage in analyses that are not appropriate at this stage,” the opinion states.

The DuPont entities are represented by McCarter & English, among other firms.