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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New Jersey’s attorney general is warning polluters to clean up their act. He’s going after companies that are contaminating low-income communities.
Where you and I see a little park here in South Camden, engineer Andy Kricun sees a solution to several of the city’s biggest environmental problems.
“We took an old abandoned gas station with failing underground storage tanks, removed the contamination and then turned it into a rain garden park that soaks up the stormwater and reduces the flooding so it’s a double win,” said Kricun.
Whether it’s an outdated drainage system that causes children to walk through contaminated puddles, a slew of highways and factories pumping particulates into the air, illegal dumping at abandoned properties, or aging industry releasing toxins–people who live in Camden are over-exposed to environmental hazards. And the State of New Jersey admits they need to do more to help.
“No one’s health or wellbeing should suffer simply because of their race, origin or socio-economic background. That seems obvious, but this country and this state have not lived up to that promise,” said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
On Thursday, Grewal and other state leaders embarked on a listening tour to address environmental injustice in minority communities. They also announced a series of lawsuits against alleged polluters, seeking to recover millions of dollars in cleanup costs and send a message that harming economically depressed communities won’t go unchecked.
“And to the polluters who have run amuck in this state here’s my message to each of you, not on our watch. We’re going to pursue you just like we’re bringing these 8 cases today,” said Grewal.
The attorney general’s office plans to have more listening sessions in the coming months throughout New Jersey. They’re also hiring additional staff for an environmental justice unit that will focus on taking down polluters that abuse minority communities.