New Jersey Officials File Suit Over Toxic Chemical Contamination

Morristown Minute
A bombshell lawsuit filed against Dow Chemical Company (Dow), Ferro Corporation (Ferro), and Vulcan Materials Company (Vulcan).Photo byMorristown Minute

Lawsuit Targets Major Corporations for Widespread 1,4-Dioxane Contamination, Alleges Environmental and Consumer Fraud

A bombshell lawsuit filed against Dow Chemical Company (Dow), Ferro Corporation (Ferro), and Vulcan Materials Company (Vulcan) has sent shockwaves through the Garden State. Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) are taking legal action against the corporations for the widespread contamination of 1,4-dioxane, a highly toxic and persistent chemical, across New Jersey.

The complaint alleges that the defendants “knowingly and willfully” produced, promoted, and sold products containing the dangerous chemical despite being aware of its harmful effects. 1,4-dioxane, primarily used as a stabilizer for chlorinated solvents from the 1950s through the 1990s, has been listed as an animal carcinogen for over 50 years and is considered "likely carcinogenic to humans." Long-term exposure, even at low levels, increases the risk of cancer and can cause kidney and liver damage.

Attorney General Platkin has vowed to hold polluters accountable for harming the state's precious natural resources. 

“The costs of cleaning up this forever chemical should be borne by the defendants in this lawsuit, not New Jersey taxpayers,” he said.

Commissioner of DEP, Shawn LaTourette, emphasized that the manufacturers of 1,4-dioxane were aware of its potential to contaminate water supplies. 

“Together with the Attorney General, DEP will hold them responsible for this contamination, accountable for the costs of investigation and cleanup, and ensure that the public is compensated for injuries to their natural resources,” LaTourette added.

The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of misrepresenting and failing to disclose the risks associated with using their products. Distributors and consumers were deceived about the safety of these products, and many were instructed to dispose of them by simply pouring them on the ground or burying them.

As 1,4-dioxane resists natural degradation, the cost of restoring New Jersey's groundwater is expected to be substantial. The lawsuit seeks compensation for natural resource damages, punitive damages, and other penalties.

This case is the latest in a series of natural resource damage and consumer fraud actions filed by the Attorney General's Office since January 2018. Morristown residents are left wondering what the long-term implications of this contamination will be for their health and their environment.

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