PARAMUS – Senator Joseph Coniglio today vowed to introduce legislation that would require immediate notification of soil contamination at public schools or other public property.
“One lesson we can learn from the situation at West Brook Middle School is that once soil or water contamination is identified, we can’t just sit back and wait for it to go away on its own,” said Senator Coniglio, D-Paramus. “I am making the enactment of this legislation a top priority, because the health of children is at stake. Parents, teachers and other workers deserve to receive immediate notification of any dangers to their health and safety.”
West Brook Middle school was closed by order of Paramus Mayor James Tedesco on Tuesday, a week after parents were notified that high levels of aldrin, dieldrin and chlordane, three pesticides that were banned by the federal Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in the 1980’s and have been known to cause cancer, were found in the soil, said Senator Coniglio.
On Wednesday, mounds of contaminated soil were removed from the school’s grounds. The State DEP and the Department of Health said they will test soil in other areas near the building for the hazardous chemicals.
Senator Coniglio said his bill would require parents and school employees to receive immediate notification of tainted soil. The legislation will be introduced next week, when the Senate board opens to receive new bills. Senator Coniglio said that he will also push for a Senate Committee hearing to determine the best methods of disclosing the information.
“Apparently, the school district knew of the contamination months ago, and they knew the levels were 39 times higher than what is allowed by law, but nothing was said to parents,” Senator Coniglio said. “These parents are outraged, and they have every right to be. As a father and a grandfather, the health and safety of my children means everything to me. If it’s a matter of notification, my bill will fix it.”