BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The U.S. branch of Belgian chemicals company Solvay has struck a nearly $393-million deal with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to settle some claims linked to drinking water pollution caused by one of its plants, Solvay announced on Wednesday.
The funds will be used to test for, filter and clean up pollution from per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, near the company’s southern New Jersey plant.
“Under the terms of the agreement, Solvay will pay $75 million to NJDEP for Natural Resource Damages (NRDs) and $100 million to fund NJDEP PFAS remediation projects in areas of New Jersey near the company’s West Deptford site”, it said in a statement.
The company will also put aside $214 million to test the soil and water quality around the plant and “complete remediation activities.”
“This settlement is a historic step that requires Solvay to finally take meaningful responsibility for PFAS and other contamination at their site,” New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, said in a statement.
PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals”, is the collective name for a large group of fluorinated compounds. They don’t break down in the environment or in the human body and are resistant to water and grease and have been cited as likely causes of cancer and other illnesses.
“As a result of this settlement, Solvay will increase its current provision by around $250 million at the end of Q2 2023, with $175 million cash out in 2024 and the balance over a 30 year period,” the company said.
The agreement does not mean Solvay admits it is at fault, the company said, adding that a court still needed to approve the deal later this year.
Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri said in the statement that the company in 2021 had transitioned the West Deptford plant towards using other types of chemical substances.
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Clark Mindock in New York; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)
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