Belgium-based Solvay to pay $393M to clean up and compensate for PFAS contamination in New Jersey

Jun 28, 2023, 12:07 PM

Shawn LaTourette, New Jersey's environmental protection commissioner, speaks at a news conference i...

Shawn LaTourette, New Jersey's environmental protection commissioner, speaks at a news conference in Middletown N.J. on March 8, 2021. On June 28, 2023, he and the state's attorney general, Matt Platkin, announced a settlement with Solvay Specialty Polymers in which the company will spend nearly $393 million to address contamination from so-called "forever chemicals" at its facility in West Deptford, N.J. just outside Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

(AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A Belgium-based chemical company will spend nearly $393 million under a settlement announced Wednesday to clean up contamination from its so-called forever chemicals in New Jersey’s drinking water and soil and to compensate for the environmental damage they caused.

Solvay Specialty Polymers USA, LLC reached a legal settlement with New Jersey’s Attorney General’s Office and Department of Environmental Protection on contamination at and near its West Deptford plant in southwestern New Jersey near Philadelphia.

The state had been suing Solvay and numerous other companies to force them to clean up contamination with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively known as PFAS chemicals. The substances are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because they never break down and are difficult to remove from water and soil, said Shawn LaTourette, New Jersey’s environmental protection commissioner.

These substances can harm fetuses and newborns, and have been associated with kidney and testicular cancer and other illnesses.

They have been used for more than 60 years and have become staples of modern life for consumers who want to protect their clothing from stains or water, and prevent food from sticking to cookware. They have been used in brands such as Stainmaster, Scotchgard, Teflon, Gore-Tex, and Tyvek, according to the environmental department.

“For years, corporations including Solvay have put financial gain over our clean drinking water and the health of millions of people,” said Attorney General Matthew Platkin. “They have blatantly ignored the dangers posed by the PFAS forever chemicals that accumulate in our environment and in our bodies.”

New Jersey has been pursuing numerous other companies since 2019 for similar contamination. Those cases remain in litigation, and LaTourette acknowledged the problem goes far beyond the actions of one company.

“Our PFAS challenges in New Jersey are deep, they are significant, and they won’t be resolved by this one action alone,” LaTourette said.

Mike Finelli, Solvay’s chief North America officer, said the settlement allows “all parties to continue focusing on cleaning the environment.”

He said the company has been investigating and remediating PFAS at its West Deptford site since 2013, including working with the town to install a drinking water treatment system on a municipal well; installing a cap at Solvay’s facility to stop contamination from spreading; constructing and operating an offsite groundwater pump-and-treat system, and enhancing on-site groundwater treatment systems.

Finelli said the company’s products are used in a range of applications including lithium-ion batteries, components for compact engines in hybrid vehicles, medical device components, and smart devices.

For more than 30 years, Solvay’s West Deptford site manufactured industrial plastics, coatings, and other chemicals across the Delaware River from Philadelphia International Airport.

The settlement obligates Solvay to clean up contamination in and around its site, work with the state to limit ongoing discharges, and test for contaminants in public and private water sources in the area.

The company will pay $214 million to guarantee that the environmental department will have money to complete the cleanup should Solvay fail to meet its obligations. It also will pay $100 million to address PFAS impacts to drinking water or private wells in over a dozen communities.

Solvay also must spend $75 million to compensate the public for damage to natural resources, and $3.7 million to reimburse the environmental department for its enforcement efforts in the case.

Environmental groups reacted cautiously to the settlement, saying its many details need to be studied.

“The communities in the Delaware River region that have been indelibly harmed by Solvay and the highly toxic contamination they unleashed have suffered terribly and need to benefit directly from whatever settlement is reached between” the environmental department and Solvay, said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

“Forcing Solvay to pay up and clean up is long overdue,” added Amy Goldsmith, state director of Clean Water Action. “Polluters like Solvay should have the book and more thrown at them for what they have done.”

Bill Wolfe, a former environmental department official and longtime critic of the agency, said much of the payments Solvay will make are required under existing environmental department regulations and should not be considered an outcome of litigation.


Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at

National News

Associated Press

California governor vetoes bill requiring custody courts to weigh affirmation of gender identity

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill that would have required judges to consider whether a parent affirms their child’s gender identity when making custody and visitation decisions. In announcing his veto Friday night, Newsom released a statement saying he has “a deep commitment to advancing the rights of transgender […]

26 minutes ago

A sign marks a roadside rest stop that has been made to look like the historic security gate that a...

Associated Press

Birthplace of the atomic bomb braces for its biggest mission since the top-secret Manhattan Project

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — Los Alamos was the perfect spot for the U.S. government’s top-secret Manhattan Project. Almost overnight, the ranching enclave on a remote plateau in northern New Mexico was transformed into a makeshift home for scientists, engineers and young soldiers racing to develop the world’s first atomic bomb. Dirt roads were hastily […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

California bill to have humans drivers ride in autonomous trucks is vetoed by governor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill to require human drivers on board self-driving trucks, a measure that union leaders and truck drivers said would save hundreds of thousands of jobs in the state. The legislation vetoed Friday night would have banned self-driving trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds (4,536 […]

2 hours ago

FILE - House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill, Friday, Sept. 2...

Associated Press

Speaker McCarthy gives in to hard-line conservatives in hopes of solving government funding impasse

WASHINGTON (AP) — Staring down a fast-approaching government shutdown that threatens to disrupt life for millions of Americans, Speaker Kevin McCarthy has turned to a strategy that so far has preserved his tenuous hold on House leadership but also marked it by chaos: giving hard-right lawmakers what they want. In his eight months running the […]

2 hours ago

Phoenix heat...

Associated Press

Arizona’s sweltering summer could set new record for most heat-associated deaths in big metro

PHOENIX (AP) — America’s hottest metro area is on track to set an annual record for heat-associated deaths after a sweltering summer, particularly in Phoenix. Public health officials in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and Arizona’s most populous county, said Friday that 289 heat-associated deaths were confirmed as of Sept. 16, with another 262 deaths […]

5 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at Uni...

Associated Press

Biden faces foreign policy trouble spots as he aims to highlight his experience on the global stage

WASHINGTON (AP) — This probably wasn’t how President Joe Biden envisioned his big foreign policy week ending. Biden spent much of the time trying to make the case to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly as well as to Democratic donors and voters that his decades of foreign policy experience and demonstrated moral clarity […]

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Belgium-based Solvay to pay $393M to clean up and compensate for PFAS contamination in New Jersey