The leader of New Jersey’s largest environmental organization is hailing a supreme court ruling as a victory for cleaning up contaminated sites.
New Jersey’s Supreme Court ruled that a six-year statute-of-limitations for property damage claims does not apply to the state’s Spill Compensation and Control Act.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club says it can sometimes take decades to investigate who’s responsible for the contamination resulting from the discharge of hazardous waste and come up with a cleanup plan.
“In some cases there’s been transfer of ownership from one company to another,” Tittel said. “In other cases there’s been multiple parties of contributor. You have a contaminated site and the toxic chemicals that are on it could be coming from a dry cleaner half a block away, some of it coming from a printing plant next door, plus whatever was produced at that facility.”
Tittel says the Spill Act from the late 1970’s was the model for the federal Superfund law and would have been gutted if polluters could have run out the clock on contaminated site investigations.
“Without it what would happen is New Jersey with about 20,000 contaminated sites out there, it would make it very hard for the state to actually get those sites cleaned up because all the polluters would have to do is run out the clock and then have no more liability,” he said.