The state Attorney General and Department of Environmental Protection announced a proposed settlement with Solvay Specialty Polymers today, resulting in the remediation of contaminated, 37-mile area in the vicinity of Solvay’s facility in West Deptford.
If the settlement is finalized, Solvay will pay $393 million toward the cleanup of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, as well as natural resource damages in the area.
“This proposed settlement marks a significant milestone in New Jersey’s nation-leading efforts to better protect public health and our environment from the dangers of PFAS,” added NJDEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette.
“It requires Solvay to fund critical environmental investigations, remediation activities, and natural resource restoration projects that will improve drinking water and environmental quality in the Gloucester and Camden County communities that have borne the brunt of PFAS impacts that DEP believes were caused by Solvay.”
PFAS are referred to as “forever chemicals” due to their durability in high heat and water, and they are known to not break down in the environment. They’re found in thousands of consumer products, including cookware, carpets, cosmetics, outdoor apparel, and food packaging, just to name a few.
Under the proposed settlement, Solvay will be required to:
- Clean up contamination at and around its site, including remediation of groundwater and soil contaminated with PFNA, PFOA, MFS, and BFS at levels above DEP’s standards, including applicable more stringent future standards, where there is a direct connection to discharges from the site.
- Work with DEP to further control and limit ongoing PFAS discharges
- Sample for PFNA, PFOA, MFS, and BFS at private potable wells and public supply wells within West Deptford and the area surrounding the Solvay facility and provide treatment for wells with contaminant levels above applicable standards
- Work with DEP and independent labs to further develop and improve testing for BFS in the environment.
Solvay will also be required to post $214 million to guarantee that DEP will have access to sufficient financial resources to complete the cleanup should Solvay fail to meet its ongoing remedial obligations.
In a statement, Solvay said the proposed settlement is not an admission of guilt.
The company also said it has been conducting remediation efforts in the area since 2013, including the installation of a drinking water treatment system on a municipal well, construction and operation an offsite pump-and-treat system for impacted groundwater, and enhancement of existing onsite treatment systems for impacted groundwater.
“Solvay appreciates the collaborative approach taken by NJDEP to reach this agreement, allowing all parties to continue focusing on protecting the environment,” said Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri. “Consistent with our focus to innovate more sustainable solutions, we transitioned our West Deptford, NJ facility to use non-fluorosurfactants technologies as of July 2021.”
The agreement, structured as a Judicial Consent Order, will be presented to the U.S. Court for review and approval later this year, following a public comment period.