Frequently Asked Questions

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of thousands of man-made compounds with at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom that are found in many environmental media in New Jersey. Also known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS repel water and oil and are resistant to heat and chemical reactions. As a result, PFAS are persistent, pervasive, and highly mobile—they appear in environmental media (e.g., soil, groundwater, surface water, sediment), do not break down in the environment, and bioaccumulate in both humans and wildlife. PFAS have numerous industrial and commercial applications, and several PFAS have been present in industrial processes and consumer products (including non-stick cookware, water-resistant clothing and coatings, and aqueous film-forming foams used to extinguish fires) for over 70 years.

PFAS are known to have contaminated groundwater aquifers in many areas of New Jersey, have been found in numerous public and private water supplies, and have contaminated other environmental media such as soil and surface waters.

The primary route of human exposure to PFAS is through drinking water. Exposure to even small amounts of certain PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects, especially in vulnerable populations. Infants may be particularly susceptible to some of the adverse effects of PFAS, as they consume more water per body weight than older individuals and their exposure may be higher than adults when drinking water is contaminated with PFAS.

Where PFAS have been detected in public water systems and private wells above the state’s health-based standards, they pose considerable risks to public health.  Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) has been shown to be toxic to liver, kidney, reproductive, and immune systems, and neonatal exposures can cause developmental delays. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) has been linked to kidney and testicular cancers in humans, as well as high cholesterol, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and ulcerative colitis.  Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) has been linked to elevated cholesterol, changes in liver function, changes in thyroid hormone levels, and reduced immune response.

Because these substances are toxic at extremely low concentrations, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has established health-based standards to limit the risk of exposure to certain PFAS in drinking water.  In New Jersey, the drinking water maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFNA and PFOS is 13 parts per trillion (ppt), and the MCL for PFOA is 14 ppt. Importantly, the United States Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed national drinking water standards for certain PFAS. If the USEPA’s proposed standards become law, the standard for PFNA would be reduced to 10 ppt and the MCLs for PFOA and PFOS would be reduced to 4 ppt.

DEP currently implements regulatory requirements to ensure public drinking water systems consistently monitor water and are in compliance with existing MCLs. Where a public drinking water system exceeds those health-based standards, DEP ensures that systems treat water to remove the contaminants to below New Jersey’s standards as necessary. These requirements are intended to reduce exposure to these contaminants in drinking water and protect consumers from the health effects associated with PFAS. For additional information on PFAS and DEP’s responsive actions, please visit our dedicated resource page.

The New Jersey Department of Health also provides recommendations for specific sensitive populations, including infants, children, and individuals who are pregnant, nursing, or may become pregnant in the future, who have been exposed to PFAS.

For more than 30 years, Solvay Specialty Polymers USA, LLC and its predecessors (Solvay) manufactured industrial plastics, coatings, and other chemicals at the West Deptford, Gloucester County facility. As part of its operations, Solvay used Surflon, a proprietary process aid, which contained PFNA. Solvay also for some time used PFOA.  These and other hazardous substances, including other PFAS, were discharged to the environment, and Solvay was slow to conduct the environmental investigation and cleanup required by state laws.

In March 2019, DEP issued a Statewide Directive to Solvay and other companies responsible for PFAS contamination in New Jersey, ordering them to address their contribution to the injury of numerous environmentally sensitive natural resources in New Jersey, including regional potable groundwater resources.

Solvay did not fully comply with DEP’s Directive and, in November 2020, the State sued Solvay in State Superior Court. The litigation sought to hold Solvay accountable for discharges of contaminants into New Jersey’s environment which posed environmental and public health risks to the surrounding community. In its lawsuit, the State asked the court to order Solvay to clean up its discharges of PFAS and other hazardous substances, treat drinking water, pay damages to the State for injuries to natural resources, including groundwater, and provide reimbursement to the State for work that DEP had already undertaken.

Solvay is responsible for cleaning up the hazardous substances and pollutants it discharged into the environment. Of primary concern to DEP in its efforts to compel Solvay to conduct a proper investigation and cleanup and to prevent further human exposure, and a principal focus of the proposed settlement, is the impact of PFAS contamination to groundwater aquifers and public and private drinking water supplies in the vicinity of Solvay’s West Deptford facility.

Solvay discharged unprecedented amounts of PFNA, a type of PFAS, into the environment surrounding its facility in West Deptford along with other PFAS, including PFOA, monofunctional surfactants (MFS), and bifunctional surfactants (BFS). Solvay also discharged other hazardous substances, including semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), metals, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

PFNA has been detected as a dominant PFAS constituent in public supply wells in both Gloucester County (where Solvay’s facility is located) and nearby areas in Camden County.  As of 2019, roughly 21% of the private drinking water wells tested around the Solvay site required the installation of treatment devices for PFNA and/or PFOA. High levels of PFNA contamination have also been detected in wells serving public water systems in at least eight municipalities (Bellmawr, Brooklawn, West Deptford, East Greenwich, Greenwich, Gloucester City, Woodbury, and Paulsboro). Treatment systems have been or are in the process of being installed at certain drinking water wells in each of these municipalities, but further investigation and treatment may be required to ensure full protection of public health and the environment.

The proposed settlement requires Solvay to perform multiple environmental cleanup actions and make financial commitments of nearly $392.8 million. The monetary components of the proposed settlement will provide the public with:

  • Added security to guarantee Solvay’s comprehensive and long-term cleanup obligations at and in the vicinity of the West Deptford site;
  • Support for public water system improvements necessary to address PFAS;
  • Investigation and treatment of Solvay’s PFAS impacts in the vicinity of Solvay’s site;
  • Compensation for costs incurred by DEP for remediation and oversight; and
  • Compensation for injuries to natural resources related to Solvay’s discharges.

Additionally, under the proposed settlement, Solvay will be required to:

  • Clean up contamination at and around its West Deptford site, including groundwater and soil contaminated with PFNA, PFOA, MFS, and BFS at levels above applicable standards, including those that may be made more stringent in the future, where there is a direct connection to discharges from the site;
  • Establish a Classification Exception Area for certain impacted groundwater, which will control and limit the use of this resource while it is being remediated by Solvay;
  • Conduct sampling for PFNA, PFOA, MFS, and BFS at private potable wells and public supply wells within West Deptford and the area surrounding the Solvay facility and provide treatment for wells with contaminant levels above applicable standards; and

Work collaboratively with DEP and independent laboratories to further develop and improve testing for BFS in the environment.

The ubiquity and persistence of PFAS contamination in our natural environment presents a unique challenge to New Jersey and states across the nation. As the State grapples with the problems posed by PFAS and establishes technical and regulatory methods for reducing PFAS risks to public health and the environment, DEP recognizes the importance of moving quickly to clean up existing contamination, secure resources to support necessary treatment of drinking water supplies, and restore valuable natural resources injured by PFAS contamination. DEP believes that the proposed settlement accomplishes these concurrent goals. Further, the proposed settlement addresses remaining uncertainty by requiring comprehensive sampling and delineation of PFAS contamination around Solvay’s West Deptford site. Under the proposed settlement, crucial environmental testing and cleanup will move forward now, funded by the party that DEP has identified as responsible for the contamination, reducing the risks and financial burdens PFAS contamination foists upon local governments, their residents, and drinking water system ratepayers.

The proposed settlement would ensure that groundwater, a primary source of drinking water, that has been potentially impacted by the Solvay facility will continue to be identified, monitored, and treated by the company to ensure the protection of public health, safety, and the environment.

The proposed settlement would also provide an additional $100 million, the majority of which DEP intends to allocate to address PFAS impacts to certain public water systems and private potable drinking water wells in the vicinity of the West Deptford facility—even where the source of the PFAS contamination may be disputed. The allocation of these vital resources will be determined through a collaborative process between DEP and the impacted communities.

The combination of Solvay’s commitment to conduct comprehensive environmental testing and cleanup, plus added resources for DEP to assist impacted communities, will serve to protect local water supply sources, particularly those that provide drinking water.

Solvay will also be required to compensate the public for natural resource damages (NRD) in the amount of $75 million. This proposed NRD settlement is in addition to environmental cleanup obligations and is intended to account for injuries to and lost value of natural resources due to Solvay’s discharge of hazardous substances. These funds would be dedicated to natural resource restoration projects to be identified and pursued in close collaboration with the affected communities pursuant to the policy set forth in Administrative Order 2023-08, which was issued by DEP Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette in March 2023.

Solvay’s facility is located in West Deptford, in Gloucester County. Under the proposed settlement, Solvay would be required to conduct sampling and treatment of a significant number of private and public wells in West Deptford and other municipalities in Gloucester County and Camden County. Solvay would also be required to pay DEP $100 million, a very substantial amount of which DEP intends to allocate to additional public water systems and private potable drinking water wells in Gloucester and Camden Counties that have been impacted by PFAS. If the proposed settlement agreement is ultimately approved, impacted residents will be notified if their private well is eligible for sampling and any necessary treatment. Additional wells needing treatment may be identified through testing that Solvay is required to perform under the agreement.

Your water utility regularly tests for water quality. You can access your utility’s water quality information through the Drinking Water Watch website, located here. This is a database that is searchable by water system ID number, system name, or (if you don’t know the ID number or name) by county and municipality, to identify all public water systems serving that area and includes information on which utilities serve your area. Additionally, a list of public water systems with violations of the PFNA and PFOA MCLs is available here. If your water utility has exceeded the MCL for PFNA or PFOA, it is required to promptly notify you and take actions to reduce these levels. The majority of the municipalities in the vicinity of Solvay’s West Deptford facility have already installed or are in the process of installing treatment on their drinking water wells in accordance with applicable drinking water standards.

Older children and adults who wish to further reduce exposure to PFAS can consider switching to bottled or home filtered water for drinking and cooking. Anyone concerned about their individual health should consult with their personal healthcare provider.

The proposed settlement agreement identifies public and private wells where Solvay has agreed to either: (1) directly sample and treat the wells for PFNA, PFOA, MFS, and BFS to ensure that drinking water from these wells meets health-based standards; (2) provide funding to DEP to conduct further sampling and treatment; or (3) provide funding to DEP to reimburse DEP for public money that has or will have been expended for treatment costs. DEP will ensure, based on available scientific data, that drinking water impacts to potable wells in the vicinity of the site exceeding applicable drinking water standards for PFNA, PFOA, MFS, or BFS are addressed either directly by Solvay or by the Department through the use of funds provided by Solvay. If your well is tested independently and PFNA, PFOA, MFS, or BFS are detected, please reach out to DEP at to determine if you are eligible for inclusion under this agreement.

DEP recognizes that certain private well owners that have suffered PFAS impacts may fall outside the scope of the proposed agreement. Well owners that may be impacted by PFAS or other hazardous substances in other areas may consider pursuit of other funding mechanisms, such as those made available through the New Jersey Spill Fund or the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s Potable Water Loan Program to cover treatment costs.  Information about the New Jersey Spill Fund and contact information can be found at To contact the NJHMFA about their potable water loan program, please use the NJHMFA Hotline at 1-800-NJHOUSE (1-800-654-6873) or find more information online at

While the State’s lawsuit against Solvay alleged that Solvay’s site was discharging hazardous substances into the Delaware River, due to the complexity of the river claims, the State has decided to reserve its rights to pursue those claims separately and does not seek to resolve them as part of the proposed settlement agreement. The Court agreed that this reservation was appropriate

The State is still engaged in litigation against the other companies mentioned in the March 2019 Statewide PFAS Directive, including manufacturers such as 3M, Chemours, DowDuPont, and DuPont. The State is also involved in multidistrict litigation against manufacturers and distributors of PFAS-containing aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), which has caused widespread PFAS contamination through its use as a fire suppressant. Finally, the State continues to pursue its claims against Arkema, Inc., the successor to the companies that owned and operated the West Deptford facility prior to Solvay and its corporate predecessors. Each case is distinct and will require individual consideration by the State. While this proposed settlement is a meaningful step toward cleaning up PFAS across our State, it does not alleviate or modify other PFAS dischargers’ responsibility to remediate their contamination. The State expects that each responsible party will clean up its PFAS contamination in New Jersey and will continue its efforts to hold each of them accountable.

For more information, DEP has created a dedicated microsite with the proposed settlement agreement, draft and, when available, final versions of the New Jersey Register and newspaper public notices, FAQs, information on Solvay, and links to important public health information on PFAS.

Notice of the agreement and an invitation to submit comments will be formally published in the New Jersey Register on August 7, 2023, and links will be available on DEP’s website to access the proposed Judicial Consent Order and provide public comment. The public comment period will be open until October 6, 2023, during which time anyone can submit comments for DEP’s review.

Once the public comment period has closed, DEP will review comments and respond as necessary. If, after public comment, the proposed settlement is finalized and approved by the court, it will be entered as a binding Judicial Consent Order.  At that time, Solvay will be required to fulfill its obligations under the agreement.