As part of the Nassau Suffolk Water Commissioner Association’s (NSWCA) Continuing Education Program, Robin Greenwald, Esq., head of the Environmental Toxic Torts Litigation Group for Weitz & Luxenberg, spoke to the commissioners regarding environmental polluter’s responsibility and Long Island’s water systems.
Ms. Greenwald, a former assistant chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section, is recognized as one of this country’s top environmental lawyers, notably serving as a lead plaintiff counselor in the BP Gulf Oil spill.
The evening’s presentation discussed Long Island’s aquifers, the various pollutants that affect the communities’ watersheds and the responsibility of polluting parties. Ms. Greenwald began with a clear definition of polluting parties.
“Pollution comes from either facility polluters, defined as polluters that operate in your watershed, or product manufacturer polluters, where the manufactured product contains pollutants that escape into the environment and cause damage,” explained Ms. Greenwald. “Litigating for damages to our water resources is one way to ensure that both facility and manufacturers are responsible in their operation. When they are not, the law can hold the responsible parties liable for their damages.”
“As Long Island’s water resource can be affected by pollutants that seep into the earth from groundwater, it is particularly important to our individual districts that we, as water commissioners, remain vigilant in our watch and educated in our response options,” NSWCA President Thomas Hand commented.
The benefits of litigation can include recovery of the costs of filtration, building and installing of systems, the annual costs of operation and maintenance, funding for the necessary clean up of contaminated sites and prevention of future contamination.