U.S. Sues Pfizer Subsidiary for Continued Superfund Site Contamination

The United States filed a complaint against Pfizer subsidiary Wyeth Holdings LLC last week, claiming that a former pharmaceutical manufacturing site owned by the company is releasing substances into the environment that are hazardous to human health.

“The President, through  his delegatee, the Regional  Administrator of EPA Region 2, has determined  that there may be an imminent  and substantial  endangerment to the public health or welfare or the environment because of a release or threatened release of hazardous substances at or from the [American Cyanamid Superfund] Site,” the plaintiffs state.

The site is located in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey near the Raritan River and encompasses over 400 acres. While in operation, numerous organic and inorganic chemical materials were processed there, including rubber chemicals, pharmaceuticals, dyes and petroleum-based products. In the 1980s, the site was placed on the National Priorities List, a national list of hazardous waste sites posing the greatest threat to human health and welfare and the environment that was established under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 .

The Environmental Protection Agency became responsible for site investigation and cleanup in 2009. Shortly thereafter, investigations revealed four seeps discharging benzene and other volatile organic compounds into the Raritan River, and Wyeth Holdings was required to build a groundwater removal system to intercept the contaminated water. However, leaks from one of the impoundments used to dispose of dangerous chemical byproducts have not been addressed, court documents state.

The United States seeks injunctive relief requiring Wyeth Holdings to prevent further environmental contamination from the site, as well as to recover costs incurred in response to the release of hazardous substances from the site.