Chemours Co., 3M Co. and DuPont are taking a stand against what one company called an “unprecedented” New Jersey order, saying they won’t pay for a statewide investigation of fluorinated chemical contamination.
The companies asserted they aren’t responsible for contamination under the state’s Spill Compensation and Control Act, which prohibits hazardous substances and pollutants from being discharged and imposes liability on those who do so.
New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection in March ordered DuPont Specialty Products USA LLC, DowDuPont Inc., E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Chemours Co., Solvay Specialty Polymers USA LLC and 3M to tell the state where and when they manufactured, dumped, supplied, or used poly- or perfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS.
The chemicals have appeared in drinking water supplies across the country, spurring new federal legislation, state regulations and orders including New Jersey’s.
New Jersey also requested the companies set up a fund for investigating and remediating PFAS across the state, but the companies have refused, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg Environment May 9 through a state public information request.
But even the act of estimating the costs of cleaning up PFAS across the state would be “wildly expensive,” Lanny S. Kurzweil, partner at McCarter & English LLP in Newark, N.J., wrote to the state on behalf of Chemours April 17.
Each company put up different defenses against the state’s request for funding, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg Environment May 9, but are willing to talk with state officials about PFAS chemicals near their own New Jersey facilities.
A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Environment’s request for comment.
In its order, New Jersey said 3M knew that PFOA and PFOS, two chemicals in the PFAS family, were “harmful to people and the environment, including based on its own studies from as early as the 1970s.”
The chemicals have been used to manufacture nonstick and stain-resistant coatings in clothing, fast-food wrappers, carpets, and other consumer and industrial products. Some of 3M’s products, including Scotchgard and firefighting foam Light Water, contained PFAS.
The New Jersey Spill Act allows the state to request information about discharged pollutants, but in reference to PFOA and PFOS, “useful products supplied by 3M are not ‘pollutants,’” Donald J. Camerson, principal at Bressler Amery & Ross PC in New Jersey, wrote to the state April 25 on behalf of 3M.
PFAS compounds may cause adverse health effects, including developmental harm to fetuses, testicular and kidney cancer, liver tissue damage, immune system or thyroid effects, and changes in cholesterol, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The state’s order is “unprecedented in scope and devoid of meaningful or reasonable substantiation,” Solvay said in documents obtained by Bloomberg Environment May 3 through a state public information request.
The department specifically asked Solvay to repay $3.1 million New Jersey spent to address PFAS chemicals near its West Deptford facility, but the company has declined.
The Solvay plant didn’t manufacture PFAS chemicals, but used them to make specialty plastic products, according to the company.