New Jersey wants chemical companies to cough up info on PFA contamination

TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey is going after chemical companies in the state, demanding information on how dangerous cancer causing chemicals have been getting into the environment.

For now, it’s a request for information on the proliferation of what are commonly called PFAs used in things commonly found around the house, like Scotchguard for furniture or Teflon for a frying pan.

The Department of Environmental Protection is looking at several companies with chemical plants in the state.

Shawn LaTourette, the department’s deputy commissioner, told KYW Newsradio, “We’re asking the chemical companies including DuPont, Solvay and 3M to take responsibility for the chemicals that they placed into our stream of commerce that ended up being discharged into our air and into our water, and effectively contaminating large swaths of New Jersey’s land and water.”

This is not a new issue. 

In fact, there have been efforts to address things at facilities from Carney’s Point in Salem County to Parlin, Middlesex County. But studies suggest the problem goes further than that.

“These contaminants have made their way throughout the state by virtue of air deposition and by virtue of water discharge,” LaTourette added. “So that we are seeing these chemicals appear very far from the locations of these plants.”

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The companies have three weeks to respond. If they fail to cooperate, this could turn into a costly legal battle, not to say addressing the problem up front won’t be expensive.

Three plant operators responded to requests for comment.

Solvay Specialty Polymers says it “has been responding to the presence of compounds in the vicinity of its West Deptford plant and has implemented remedial activities. Solvay shares the information it gathers with the NJDEP, and Solvay maintains an ongoing dialogue with the Department and other stakeholders around its West Deptford site.”

Their statement added, “Solvay never manufactured surfactant compounds (including those that contained PFNA or PFOA) at its West Deptford plant but used them as a processing aid there”

Chemours operates the old DuPont plant in Carney’s Point. In their statement, the company says it has had “regular interaction with NJ DEP regarding work at our New Jersey locations and continually share information with the agency related to the use and emission of fluorinated compounds.”

They also say they’re “committed to taking a leadership role in environmental stewardship and supports the development of a science – and risk-based approach to establish standards and guidelines for PFAS compounds. We believe collaboration and transparency are critical to achieving this.”

And they are “committed to working with NJ DEP to determine the appropriate actions and next steps. “ 

3M has a facility in Flemington. Their statement says the company is engaged in “conversations with public stakeholders to share information we find, as we seek to learn more about PFAS chemistries. We are reviewing the Department of Environmental Protection’s directive, and look forward to working with the State of New Jersey.”

Chemours and 3M, like Solvay, insist they do not handle PFAs in their facilities.

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