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Health Departments Would Get Advanced Notice Of Environmental Clean-Ups Under Buono Measure

TRENTON – The Senate Environment Committee approved legislation today sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono that would require that county and local health departments receive advance notice of any hazardous site remediation undertaken within their jurisdiction.

“The involvement of county and local health departments is critical in protecting residents from potential health hazards caused by these remediations,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “We saw with the Ford Plant clean-up that while the end result is a healthier environment for residents, the steps taken to get there can be dangerous.”

The bill, S-2199, would require any individual or entity who performs a remediation of a contaminated site to provide a written notice with the location of the site to the county and local health departments of the county and municipalities in which the site is found. The bill also would make the same requirement of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), when conducting a remediation of a contaminated site using public money.

“I find it troubling that any local government could be left in the dark about these types of environmental clean-ups,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “It’s obvious that local health departments must be informed, as they are best equipped to help residents protect themselves from the dangers posed by these clean-ups.”

Senator Buono said this bill builds upon previous legislation she has sponsored to inform local authorities of pending site remediations and local hazardous sites. S-1708, which requires that municipalities be given notice of remediation projects before they are undertaken, was signed by the Governor on August 2, 2006.

According to Senator Buono, the impetus for billthe was the clean-up of the Ford Plant site in Edison. It was found that dust and concrete waste created by the clean up of the former Ford Plant site in Edison contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that posed a health danger to individuals living close to the clean up site as well as the locations where contaminated soil from the site was used as fill. Plans are now under development on how to clean up sites in Hamilton, West Windsor, Brick and Upper Ringwood that were recipients of soil and debris from the Ford Plant site.

“The process needs to be fixed,” explained Senator Buono. “Clear communication is the key in making all toxic clean-ups safer for people in New Jersey.”

The bill would also require DEP to notify each county health department and certified local health agency of the existence of the New Jersey master list of known hazardous discharge sites.

The bill was approved by the Committee by a vote of 4-0. It now goes to the full Assembly for their consideration.