New Law will Prevent Child-care Centers and Schools from Being Built on Contaminated Sites
FRANKLINVILLE – On Thursday January 11, Senators Fred H. Madden and Steve Sweeney, and Assemblymen David Mayer and Paul Moriarty joined with Governor Jon Corzine at Delsea Regional High School in Franklinville, for the signing of S-2261/A-3529, a new law requiring the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) adopt regulations establishing evaluation and assessment procedures for determining the safety of child care centers and schools.
This law was prompted by the discovery of mercury contamination at Kiddie Kollege in Franklinville, Gloucester County, which was shut down in late July after workers in the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) discovered it had been operating on the former site of an Accutherm mercury thermometer factory for over two years.
“The discovery of mercury at Kiddie Kollege was devastating to the parents, children and residents of Franklin,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “As adults, its our responsibility to keep our kids safe. This legislation is not about pointing fingers and placing blame, but instead we want to ensure that what happened at Kiddie Kollege never happens again.”
“As a parent, nothing is more important than the safety of my children,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “This law establishes necessary guidelines to regulate the buildings that house our children for 8 hours a day. Today’s bill signing shows the State’s commitment to protecting New Jersey’s families.”
The law would require the state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to adopt procedures for the evaluation and assessment of the interior of buildings that are to be used for day care centers or for educational purposes and standards that establish maximum contaminant levels for building interiors to be used for day care centers or for educational purposes, that are protective of the public health and safety. Under the bill, construction officials would be prohibited from issuing construction permits for construction on any site that does not meet the proposed DHSS standards.
“The Kiddie Kollege situation represents a catastrophic failure of checks and balances at all levels of government,” said Mayer (D-Gloucester/Camden). “We must do everything in our power to keep our children safe and healthy.”
The bills will also amend the “Industrial Site Recovery Act” to require DHSS to establish procedures for evaluating and assessing the current and maximum contaminant levels of the interior of buildings being considered for use as child care centers or schools. People found violating the bill’s provisions would be subject to fines of up to $50,000 per day.
“Parents need assurances that their children are being cared for in a safe and healthy environment,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “The changes we are making with this new law will help to give our parents the piece of mind they need and our children the safe, healthy environment they deserve.”
The new law received final legislative approval in the Senate on December 14, 2006. It unanimously passed in the Senate, and was approved in the Assembly by a vote of 78-0-2.