Glen Rock officials, with the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, discuss the town’s ban on thin plastic bags on Thursday, May 2, 2019.
PATERSON — Two local businesses, an auto repair shop and a dye house, are among 12 throughout the state that are facing lawsuits alleging environmental health violations and demanding cleanups.
The complaints, all filed by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, on behalf of the state Department of Environmental Protection, specifically targeted pollution in low-income neighborhoods.
The local cases, to be heard by Judge Thomas Brogan in state Superior Court, are the only Passaic County matters.
Map of New Jersey showing locations of alleged polluters. (Photo: Courtesy of New Jersey Office of the Attorney General)
Other legal actions were taken against gas stations in Newark and in South Orange; a former manufacturer of bolts, nuts and screws in Elizabeth; a mechanic’s garage in Jersey City; and a composting business in Upper Deerfield Township that, the state claims, improperly buried solid waste on its land.
“The message to residents should be clear,” said state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “Everyone — and, I really mean everyone — deserves to breathe clean air and live in a safe environment.”
Catherine McCabe, commissioner of the DEP, said the legal actions will strengthen all communities in the state, “especially those most vulnerable to environmental harm.”
American Fabric Processors, the dye house on E. 31st Street, finishes rolls of cotton, nylon and polyester fabrics, as well as linen bedsheets, rayon and spandex.
The complaint against the business alleges that it operates textile-processing machinery with an expired permit. It also failed, the state claims, to do mandated tests on its boilers to measure emission rates of nitrogen oxides and other gases, which contribute to smog formation and lead to reduced lung function in asthma patients.
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The state claims that the dye house flouted the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, and it asks the judge to impose civil fines of up to $50,000 per day for repeated violations.
A call placed to the dye house was not returned by either of its administrators named in the lawsuit, David Binson and Jacob Binson.
The second local case involves Adolfo González, owner of Adolfo Auto Repair. He was sued by the state for allegedly unearthing two fuel tanks at the Market Street site, while neglecting to determine how much cleanup was needed.
The 500-gallon canisters were “riddled with holes” and contained petroleum sludge, the complaint alleges. An investigation must be done by a licensed professional to see what toxic substances seeped into the ground when they were removed, the state claims.
Adolfo Auto Repair on Market Street in Paterson. (Photo: Courtesy of New Jersey Office of the Attorney General)
“Without an investigation,” the state claims, “there’s little way of knowing whether the soil and groundwater beneath the site was contaminated.”
A man who answered the phone at the repair shop identified himself as González, but he hung up when asked to respond to the state’s allegations. He ended the call before acknowledging that he knew about the lawsuit.
Grewal said the court filings are the latest in a series of legal actions that his office has taken in tandem with the DEP to enforce “environmental justice.” Last year, for example, the state sued to stop alleged pollution by owners of dumps in Plumsted Township and in Vernon Township.
Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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