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Meyer v. Constantinou

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20262
Nos. A-4163-11T4, (N.J. Super. Ct., 11/15/2013)

A New Jersey appellate court, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed a trial court decision dismissing without prejudice property owners' complaint alleging their property had been contaminated by chemicals discharged from a neighboring dry cleaning business. The New Jersey Environmental Rights Act allows private citizens to enforce state environmental statutes when governmental agencies fail to act. Although the state environmental agency had not filed a court action with respect to the property at issue in this case, the agency has taken "positive steps in promoting the cleanup of the site," and it "continues to act to encourage voluntary remediation without the necessity of assessing fines." In addition, the parties do not dispute that the agency has directed remediation of the property. And although the court, not the agency, is required to allocate liability for remediation costs, such costs can not be determined until the agency approves the methodologies for determining the extent of the contamination and removing it. The trial court, therefore, properly exercised its authority to dismiss the suit so that the agency could determine the extent of contamination and scope of cleanup.