On June 28, 2023, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) announced a proposed settlement with Solvay Specialty Polymers USA, LLC (“Solvay”) over the company’s discharge of PFAS and other hazardous substances from its West Deptford facility. According to a press release from New Jersey’s Office of Attorney General (NJOAG), the $392.7 million proposed settlement is the “largest single-site natural resource damages and remediation case in New Jersey history.”
In the 2020 complaint that led to the proposed settlement, NJDEP alleged that PFAS discharges and emissions from Solvay’s West Deptford facility had caused “widespread soil, sediment, groundwater, and surface water contamination.” In particular, NJDEP asserted that levels of PFNA—a type of PFAS—detected in surface water and public drinking water near the facility were higher than levels reported “anywhere else in the world.” According to NJDEP, Solvay and the facility’s previous owner knew or should have known about the dangers posed by PFAS but “failed to disclose the impact of their use and releases of PFAS into the environment to the Department and the surrounding community.”
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Solvay would be required to reimburse NJDEP for previous remediation efforts, pay claims for natural resource damages, and fund additional remedial activities to be undertaken by NJDEP and the company. Solvay would be responsible for identifying and remediating contaminated natural resources and wells and providing regular reports of its remedial activities to NJDEP. Funds allocated to NJDEP would primarily be used to address PFAS in drinking water systems.
The settlement comes after a 2019 NJDEP directive for Solvay and four other chemical manufacturers responsible for “significant contamination of New Jersey’s natural resources” to provide financial compensation for PFAS-related contamination and information on their PFAS use and emissions. NJDEP’s 2020 complaint argued that Solvay did not fully comply with the directive. According to NJOAG, Solvay is the first company identified by the directive to reach a proposed settlement with NJDEP.
A formal notice of the proposed settlement was published in the New Jersey Register on August 7, 2023. Public comments on the proposal will be accepted through October 6, 2023.