A class-action lawsuit has been filed by 12 borough residents against Solvay Specialty Polymers in regards to Paulsboro’s public water supply being contaminated with chemicals that were used in the company’s plastics-making enterprise.
Tests of Paulsboro’s main water supply — well No. 7 — has found levels of perfluorochemicals (PFCs), such as perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) up to 150 parts per trillion, or .15 parts per billion.
PFCs and PFNA are bioaccumulating chemicals that were used by Solvay — located in neighboring West Deptford — from the 1980s through 2010. Effects of the chemicals are still being studied, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, they can be toxic to laboratory animals and wildlife.
The lawsuit is asking for declatory relief, injunctive relief, equitable relief, compensatory and punitive damages, including medical monitoring costs.
“The named Plaintiff(s) fear harm to themselves, their families, property and any reasonable member of the potential class members likewise fear harm,” the lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs are claiming negligence, private nuisance, public nuisance, strict liability, past and continuing trespass and past and continuing battery. They are asking for medical monitoring, damages up to $5 million and the provision of clean water, as well as punitive and compensatory damages.
“Solvay’s negligent acts and omissions proximately caused and continue to proximately cause damage to the plaintiff(s) and other class members in the form of bodily injury,” the lawsuit reads.
It also asks for individual purification systems that clean all water being consumed or used in bathing and cleaning.
Recently, Paulsboro’s governing body and the Department of Environmental Protection have warned for “extreme caution” to be used when drinking the borough’s public water. Parents of the most sensitive residents, those younger than a year old, should be using bottled water to prepare formula or feeding their infants liquid formula, according to the DEP.
As of Friday, Solvay has begun offering cases of bottled water to Paulsboro residents who are pregnant or nursing, or if there is a child younger than one in the home. One case per week is available for qualifying residents and can be picked up at Weiss True Value hardware store on Broad Street.
“Solvay Specialty Polymers is serious about our commitment to environmental stability. We are working cooperatively with the Borough of Paulsboro and the NJDEP to resolve the water-quality issues,” Solvay spokesman Chuck Jones said in a written statement. “As a precautionary measure and because we care about our neighbors, Solvay will provide bottled water to Paulsboro residences with infants and children up to one year of age until the issues are resolved.”
The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Lewis G. Adler, Louis D. Fletcher, Roger C. Mattson and Paul DePetris.