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Jersey City Residents Sue Over Alleged Chromium Dumping

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Jersey City residents have filed a lawsuit against Honeywell International of New Jersey and PPG Industries of Pennsylvania for allegedly dumping and failing to clean up cancer-causing hexavalent chromium waste in their neighborhoods.

The class action lawsuit was filed May 17 in the Hudson County Superior Court. It is the first major class action lawsuit seeking widespread relief for residents and property owners in the wake of a federal study showing elevated levels of cancer in some areas near the toxic waste sites, according to attorneys representing the residents.

The lawsuit demands that defendants pay for periodic medical screenings for the early detection of cancer in exposed populations and pay damages to landowners whose properties have been devalued. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages for defendants' knowing and deliberate conduct in disposing and failing to properly remediate hexavalent chromium contamination in Jersey City.

The class action, Smith, et al. v. Honeywell International, Inc., et al. (No. L00267910, N.J. Super., Hudson Co.), generally affects residents and properties at or near various sites identified by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as having been contaminated with chromium waste. The case was filed by the law firms of Janet, Jenner & Suggs LLC; German Rubenstein LLP; Williams Cuker & Berezofsky LLC; and Kanner & Whiteley LLC.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants disposed of more than 1 million tons of chromium in Jersey City beginning in the early 1900s. The waste, referred to as chrome ore processing residue, or COPR, is a byproduct of the defendants' Jersey City chromium chemical production operations of the last century, and much of it remains today, according to the suit.

The lawsuit seeks certification of a proposed medical monitoring class, for individuals who lived within 500 feet of a COPR waste site for at least six months. As many as 38,000 people lived in the area, according to the 2000 Census.

Class status is also being sought for a proposed property damage class which includes all properties within one-quarter mile of any chromium site. The suit seeks compensation for devaluation and other property damages resulting from proximity to these toxic waste sites. As many as 27,800 parcels may be affected. A map showing the location of the sites can be found here.

Download the complaint here.