Government Files Hazardous Substances Complaint Against Hercules LLC

The United States and the State of New Jersey have filed a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act) lawsuit against defendant Hercules LLC to recover the costs of their clean-up efforts at the Gibbstown, New Jersey, “Hercules, Inc. Superfund Site.” Monday’s complaint seeks injunctive relief under CERCLA, and cost recovery under CERCLA and the Spill Act.

According to the filing, Hercules is a Delaware limited liability company that owned or operated a facility that disposed of hazardous substances on the Site. The Site is reportedly a roughly 350-acre area that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) divided into “operable units” in order to manage clean-up actions.

The complaint focused on an EPA-propounded response action for operable units 1 and 2 in a Sept. 25, 2018, record of decision. The response action supposedly aimed to remediate groundwater, soil, sedimentary, and surface water contamination at the Site. According to the EPA, “there is or may be an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health and welfare or the environment because of actual or threatened releases of hazardous substances at or from the Site,” the complaint explained.

The plaintiffs contended that “(i)n undertaking response actions to address the release or threat of release of hazardous substances at the Site, EPA has incurred and will continue to incur ‘response costs.’” Likewise, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), and the Administrator of the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund (Administrator) statedly incurred cleanup and removal costs for which they now seek reimbursement.

In turn, the plaintiffs requested repayment, inclusive of enforcement costs and interest, but exclusive of costs previously reimbursed and an order requiring Hercules to undertake the response actions contained in the September 2018 record of decision. They also sought a declaratory judgment on Hercules’ liability that will be binding in any subsequent cost recovery actions.

The Attorney General of New Jersey represents the State, and the U.S. Department of Justice and the Assistant United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey represent the federal government.