AG Platkin and DEP Commissioner LaTourette Announce Resolution of Two Environmental Lawsuits and the Filing of Six New Enforcement Actions, Including Four in Environmental Justice Communities

Court Enters Judgement in DEP’s Favor in One Case, Another Case Settles

For Immediate Release: April 25, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division of Law
– Michael T.G. Long, Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Allison Inserro
Larry Hajna, (DEP)

Little Mason | McWane Ductile | Wilenta Feed | Gas Mart
Shell Portfolio/Pontus Capital | FM Equities | Chatsworth Deli | Hidden Mills Associates

TRENTON New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced the settlement of one environmental justice lawsuit, a court order piercing the corporate veil and finding individual liability in another case, and the filing of six other cases, including efforts to remedy historic toxic legacies and restore sensitive natural resources.

Four of the new lawsuits seek to enforce environmental law in and around communities considered overburdened under New Jersey’s Environmental Justice Law. These communities have significant low-income, minority, and/or limited English proficiency populations.

“Today’s filings represent the latest action in the Murphy Administration’s initiative to right past environmental wrongs that were committed in environmentally stressed neighborhoods,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Contaminated, abandoned, and neglected properties are a blight, and I am proud to have so many partners across the State who stand with me on this and recognize that we must force these violators to repair environmental damages and abide by our laws and regulations.”

“Enforcement actions like these embody our steadfast commitment to protecting vulnerable communities and make clear the consequences for creating or contributing to environmental injustice,” said Commissioner LaTourette. “My DEP colleagues and I thank Attorney General Platkin for his partnership in using all available legal tools to remedy these problem sites and hold polluters accountable.”

Including the actions announced today, the Office of the Attorney General and the DEP have filed 68 environmental justice cases or actions since 2018. A new resource explaining New Jersey’s environmental justice enforcement actions, including an interactive map, is available at

DEP Settles with McWane Ductile, Phillipsburg

McWane Ductile operates a foundry in Phillipsburg, where it melts down scrap metals and reshapes that metal into iron pipes. In 2021, after receiving complaints about poor air quality, DEP identified violations of the Air Pollution Control Act (APCA) and issued the company two Administrative Orders and Notices of Civil Administrative Penalty Assessment. Later, DEP found over 20 additional violations at the site.

DEP reached a settlement with McWane requiring it to take specific actions to achieve and maintain compliance with the APCA, including implementing equipment upgrades for odor and particulate mitigation, such as installation of roll up doors on openings throughout the facility to prevent pollutants from escaping during operations. Additionally, McWane will pay $177,082 in penalties for the various violations that DEP assessed in 2021.

DEP Wins Court Order Holding Corporate Owner Personally Liable

In 2000, DEP received a hotline complaint of gasoline constituents discharged at a Newark gas station. Since that time, the property owners have ignored their shared legal responsibility to remediate the contamination. Gasoline and its components pose threats to the environment and public health when they enter the soil and the groundwater and persist in soil for long periods of time. Given the egregious history of misconduct in this case, the Superior Court pierced the corporate veil by deciding to hold the property owner, Iran Hassan, personally liable for his corporate misconduct.

Under the Superior Court order obtained by DEP earlier this year, Hassan and his companies, Little Mason Properties, LLC and Friends Gas, LLC, must now remediate the contamination at their site to reduce potential health and environmental risks, as well as pay civil penalties and other costs due to their recalcitrance. This Newark case represents one of several environmental justice actions filed by DEP against Hassan, the owner of several other facilities in overburdened communities.

DEP Files Six New Environmental Enforcement Actions, Four in Overburdened Communities

Wilenta Feed, Secaucus

Located in Secaucus, Wilenta Feed converts food waste into animal feed. In late 2022, the company agreed to the entry of a judicial consent order (JCO) and further agreed to implement stormwater best management practices and pay penalties to resolve a previous DEP complaint. The earlier complaint alleged, among other things, that Wilenta Feed allowed polluted water from its food waste storage and processing operation to flow into the storm sewer system and, ultimately, to New Jersey’s surface waters in violation of the Water Pollution Control Act (WPCA).

However, Wilenta has repeatedly violated the terms of the JCO and has stopped paying the $140,000 penalty imposed in the JCO.

Now, the State is suing a second time because Wilenta Feed refuses to comply with the JCO to stop dumping excess food waste outside of its permitted indoor storage facility and transferring liquified food waste from its on-site stormwater detention basin directly into an off-site Secaucus stormwater drain. This stormwater system flows directly into the nearby Penhorn Creek. The biological matter could introduce pathogens to the creek and deplete oxygen, which harms other life in the creek.

DEP seeks to compel Wilenta Feed to comply with the JCO, and seeks sanctions for its willful non-compliance sufficient to offset any economic gains it received from its illegal activity. 

Gas Mart, Jersey City

This complaint alleges that defendants Kennedy 1658 Realty Associates and Fidelity Builders Inc., the owners of this Jersey City gas station, have failed to remediate soil and groundwater contamination. In 2007, gasoline contamination was discovered in the soil surrounding underground storage tanks that were operated by Fidelity Builders. Monitoring wells were installed and identified gasoline contamination above groundwater quality standards. Gasoline and its components pose threats to the environment and public health when they enter the soil and the groundwater. Despite a legal obligation to remediate this contamination, current property owner Kennedy 1658 Realty Associates and Fidelity Builders have failed to do so.

DEP sued to enforce defendants’ cleanup obligations. In 2019, that suit was resolved with an ACO, which required both firms to retain a Licensed Site Remediation Professional, properly remediate the Site, and pay an administrative penalty. However, the firms have not complied with the ACO. DEP is suing to compel the defendants to fully remediate gasoline contamination at the site as set forth in the ACO and pay penalties ordered by the Court.

PC Shell, Voorhees

This lawsuit involves a Voorhees gas station, where the owners, defendants PC Shell Portfolio LLC and Pontus Capital LLC, are alleged to have failed to properly maintain and close the underground storage tanks (USTs). To prevent contamination at a gas station, DEP requires closure of all USTs that have been out of service for more than 12 months. Due to lack of maintenance, the USTs at this property were at risk of deteriorating and leaking gasoline into the surrounding soil and groundwater.

PC Shell and Pontus Capital were notified in early 2022 that the USTs represent a potential environmental hazard because of this improper maintenance. In addition, PC Shell and Pontus Capital have failed to maintain operating permits on the USTs and have not properly closed the tanks despite multiple DEP demands to comply with the applicable regulations and an administrative order from DEP. In April 2022, DEP identified more than 12 inches of gasoline/Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (“LNAPL”) in four existing monitoring wells related to the property, including in a well located along the tree line of the Nicholson Creek.

DEP now seeks a court order compelling PC Shell and Pontus Capital to properly close the tanks, hire an LSRP to assess the extent of the contamination and oversee any needed remediation, cease all discharges to the groundwater and surface waters of the State, pay the penalties imposed by the prior administrative order, and pay civil penalties ordered by the Court.

FM Equities, Pennsauken

 This lawsuit involves the location of former sheet metal fabricating and electroplating operation in Pennsauken. The industrial operations, conducted by Wetler Corporation and Penler Anodizing, Inc., resulted in soil and groundwater contamination with high levels of several hazardous substances, including trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and benzene, which are liquid solvents used in manufacturing. These contaminants can have numerous health effects.

FM Equities purchased the site in January 2003 after the contamination had been discovered. As the current site owner, FM is required to remediate the soil and groundwater contamination but has failed to do so. The DEP issued an administrative order to FM, which became final in 2021, requiring FM to remediate the site, and assessed an administrative penalty. DEP is suing to compel FM to comply with the final order, fully remediate the hazardous substances that persist at the site, and pay civil penalties.

 Other Environmental Enforcement Actions

 Chatsworth Deli 

Until the 1970s, this site operated as a gasoline service station and deli in Woodland Township. As a result of leaking USTs, the property’s soil and groundwater have been contaminated for decades, as current and prior owners have ignored multiple DEP orders to bring the site into compliance with the Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act).

In 2021, DEP ordered Kenneth Knapp, who owned the Site from 2004 until his death in 2022, to remediate the contamination, pay outstanding annual remediation fees, and pay a civil administrative penalty of $85,000. The order became a Final Agency Order (FAO) after Knapp failed to contest it within the requisite timeframe, and the penalty is now a docketed judgment.

In today’s action, DEP is suing Knapp’s estate and heirs, as well as Solomon Dwek, who owned the property from 2001 until 2004. In its lawsuit, DEP seeks to enforce the FAO against Knapp’s estate and heirs and asserts a claim against Dwek under the Spill Act and the Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act, to compel them to complete site remediation, as well as remediation of all other off-site areas affected by contamination. DEP also seeks additional penalties under the Spill Act for Knapp’s violation of the FAO.

Hidden Mills Associates

This builder redeveloped a property located between Little Mill Road and Erial Road, in Gloucester Township, pursuant to a land use permit issued by the DEP. The permit allowed the redevelopment to disturb a portion of freshwater wetlands contingent upon, among other things, the developers purchasing mitigation credits to create, restore or enhance equivalent wetlands to mitigate any effect on the surrounding environment and community. Over a period of a decade, Hidden Mills failed to mitigate the effects of their activities on protected wetlands and ignored DEP’s requirements. Despite agreeing to an ACO to abide by the parameters of the permit, Hidden Mills continued to ignore their wetland mitigation obligations. Freshwater wetlands protect and preserve drinking water supplies in addition to providing a natural means of flood and storm damage protection.

DEP is suing to compel Hidden Mills to comply with the ACO, purchase mitigation credits to create, restore, or enhance equivalent wetlands, and pay outstanding civil penalties totaling $552,023.84.

To view photos of the sites, click here.

The enforcement actions and case outcomes announced today are being handled by the Environmental Enforcement and Environmental Justice (EEEJ) Section within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group. Those handling the cases include: Section Chief Gary Wolf; Assistant Section Chiefs Kevin Fleming, James LaBianca and Thomas Lihan; and Deputy Attorneys General Dianna Shinn, Willis Doerr, Daniel Nachman, Nell Hryshko, Rachel Manning, Paige Hensor, Peter Sosinski, Samuel Simon, William Rozell, and Mark Fisher under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Aaron Kleinbaum and Director Michael T.G. Long.

The Attorney General and the Commissioner ask for the public’s help in bringing environmental enforcement actions in overburdened communities and in all communities in New Jersey. If you are aware of an action that you suspect may negatively impact human health or the environment, please report the action using the WARN DEP app or by calling 1-800-WARN-DEP (1-800-927-6337) or email environmentaljustice@dep.nj,gov.


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