Middlesex Water Company Takes Further Action to Protect Customers; Impleads 3M into Class Action Lawsuit

Iselin, New Jersey, UNITED STATES


ISELIN, N.J., May 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Middlesex Water Company (NASDAQ: MSEX) today impleaded 3M Company as a third-party defendant in a current class action lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey (Vera v. Middlesex Water). Middlesex Water Company has taken this action in addition to a separate lawsuit Middlesex Water initiated against the 3M Company in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in October 2018 (Middlesex Water v. 3M Company). In Middlesex Water v. 3M Company, Middlesex Water seeks to hold 3M accountable for 3M’s introduction of PFAS into Middlesex Water’s water supply at its Park Avenue wellfield facility in South Plainfield, New Jersey. Unlike Middlesex Water Company, the plaintiffs in Vera v. Middlesex Water Company have sued the wrong party, and failed to sue the correct party responsible for the perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) placed into Middlesex Water Company’s water supply – the 3M Company.

“The Vera plaintiffs have sued the wrong party, and all efforts should be made to hold the actual polluter of Middlesex Water’s Park Avenue facility, the 3M Company, accountable for their actions,” said Jay L. Kooper, Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, Middlesex Water Company. “Middlesex Water Company did not pollute its own water supply. The Vera lawsuit is misguided, unnecessary, and even detrimental to the interests of the very people whom these class action attorneys represent. Every dollar Middlesex Water directs to this lawsuit is one less dollar realized from the litigation with 3M that could spare the very Middlesex Water customers the Vera attorneys claim to represent from having to pay the cost to remediate the PFAS pollution for the long-term,” added Kooper.

PFAS are, and were, in a variety of household items made by 3M, including cookware, cosmetics, and carpet treatments, and are found in items as ubiquitous as dental floss and pizza boxes. For decades, these items have been manufactured and dispersed throughout the United States, and have ultimately leached into the aquifers and waterways, our drinking water, and our bodies and blood. PFAS are chemicals commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down and last in the environment for thousands of years.

Middlesex Water, which has served as a trusted water provider to the area for 125 years, took immediate action and initiated plans to upgrade treatment at its Park Avenue facility in 2018, several years before the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) established and implemented a maximum contaminant level regulation for PFAS. Also in 2018, Middlesex Water’s thorough investigation identified the polluter responsible for placing PFAS into the Park Avenue facility – the 3M Company – and immediately filed a lawsuit to hold 3M accountable.

In the meantime, in anticipation of challenges meeting the new NJDEP regulation by its implementation date, Middlesex Water Company was able to develop an interim alternate source of supply solution largely because of major capital improvements to its plant and water transmission system made in prior years. Although this solution was not able to be implemented by the date the new regulation became effective, it was ready to be put in place by early November 2021. This interim solution enabled the Company to take its Park Avenue facility offline to ensure none of the water provided to customers exceeds New Jersey’s maximum contaminant levels for PFAS. Since November, water continues to be supplied to customers from this alternate source. In addition, Middlesex Water is in the process of engineering an expanded temporary solution intended to keep the water supply below New Jersey’s maximum contaminant levels while the Company completes construction of a water treatment facility to ensure the regulatory standard can be met for the long-term.

“At every step, Middlesex Water Company has proactively acted to protect the interests of its customers and to ensure the continued provision of safe and reliable water service,” Mr. Kooper stated. “Part of these actions has been to ensure that the party that caused the exceedance of PFAS in Middlesex’s water supply – 3M Company – is the party held responsible for the remediation of the water supply. We call upon these class action attorneys in the Vera matter to do the same.”

About Middlesex Water Company
Established in 1897, Middlesex Water Company serves as a trusted provider offering life-sustaining high quality water service for residential, commercial, industrial and fire protection purposes. The Company offers a full range of water, wastewater utility and related services. An investor-owned public utility, Middlesex Water is a professional services provider specializing in municipal and industrial contract operations and water and wastewater system technical operations and maintenance. The company and its subsidiaries form the Middlesex Water family of companies, which collectively serve a population of nearly half a million people in New Jersey and Delaware.  The Company invests in its people, infrastructure and the communities it serves to support reliable and resilient utility services, economic growth and quality of life.  

Media Contact:
Bernadette Sohler, Vice President – Corporate Affairs
Middlesex Water Company
(732) 638-7549
bsohler@middlesexwater.com

Court documents accompanying this release are available at: 

http://ml.globenewswire.com/Resource/Download/3aaaacc6-9039-4ca4-9ad2-9715e95b28fc

http://ml.globenewswire.com/Resource/Download/c536e101-ef6d-4305-a9d9-1b5618ee0182



Attachments

Third Party Complaint - Vera v MIddlesex Water v 3M Company - 05-04-22 Answer - Vera v Middlesex Water - 05-04-22