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Protecting the Environment and Public Health

Protecting the Environment and Public Health

NYCHA

The Environmental Protection Unit in the Office’s Civil Division protects the environment and public health in this district (and beyond).

  • Historic NYCHA Settlement: In June 2018, the Office sued the New York City Housing Authority for systematically violating lead-paint safety regulations, failing to provide sanitary living conditions as required by law, making false statements about these conditions, and deceiving HUD inspectors.  The lawsuit was resolved through a historic settlement providing for the appointment of a federal monitor for NYCHA, imposing strict compliance deadlines, and obligating New York City to provide billions of dollars to support NYCHA’s remedial efforts.
  • Representation of EPA and Other Federal Agencies: The Environmental Protection Unit represents the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies in a wide range of environmental enforcement matters in this district, including SuperfundResource Conservation and Recovery ActClean Water Act, and lead-paint safety cases.  One significant example is the Office’s June 2018 lawsuit against the City of Mount Vernon for failing to comply with Clean Water Act storm-sewer permit requirements, designed to prevent raw sewage and other pollutants from flowing from Mount Vernon’s storm sewer system into the Hutchinson and Bronx Rivers.
  • Protecting Public Health: The Environmental Protection Unit also brings cases on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to protect food safety and eliminate other public health threats.  In June 2017, for example, the Office sued to shut down a fish smokehouse that had repeatedly been found to have Listeria bacteria in the facility as a result of recurring violations of food safety regulations.
  • Ensuring Accountability for Polluters: The Environmental Protection Unit also acts to ensure that companies cannot use bankruptcy to avoid their responsibility for environmental contamination.  In July 2019, this Office entered into a settlement in In re Magnesium Corporation, which requires the debtors to pay more than $33 million for clean-up of a contaminated Superfund site.  In addition, in 2014, this Office obtained the largest ever litigation recovery by the government for clean-up of environmental contamination, in the Tronox bankruptcy.  That settlement included, among other things, more than $4.4 billion for environmental clean-up and liabilities arising from contaminated sites across the country.

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