Courts consider responsibility for toxic site

    The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is trying to clean up a toxic waste site in Gloucester County, just east of Philadelphia. The former thermometer factory in Franklin Township has been contaminated with mercury for over 20 years.

    The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is trying to clean up a toxic waste site in Gloucester County, just east of Philadelphia. The former thermometer factory in Franklin Township has been contaminated with mercury for over 20 years. During that time a day care center was built on top of it. But they are having trouble identifying the site’s owner.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090826pckidd.mp3]

    The DEP wants to clean up the site, but the current owner says his ownership isn’t valid because when he bought it in the 1990’s he wasn’t told of the contamination. A judge has ruled in his favor, citing industrial land use law.

    New Jersey’s Attorney General is appealing that decision. But Deputy Attorney General Richard Engle says the DEP will nevertheless go forward as though the original thermometer manufacturer is responsible for the property.

    Engle: We filed a lawsuit seeking the ability to get access to the site. When no one responded, a judge last week issued a decision that they are in default. Now we can get a default judgment, so we can get in and do the work.

    Parents of kids exposed to mercury at the day care center are suing both the original and current owner for negligence.

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