TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Shirley K. Turner, Barbara Buono and Bob Smith that would require that local governments be notified any time a hazardous site remediation is performed within the boundaries of the municipality was approved by both houses of the Legislature today, clearing the way for its enactment.
“It boggles the mind to think that that this type of communication doesn’t automatically occur,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “But after it took six months for DEP to let Hamilton Township know that contaminated concrete had been used in construction at the American Metro office complex, it became clear that the Legislature had to require such notices. When it comes to environmental contamination, we can’t take any short cuts in addressing the problem and protecting residents from health dangers.”
The bill, S-1711, would require any person who performs a remediation of a contaminated site to provide a written notice with the location of the site to the governing body of each municipality 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.
“It’s the right of any homeowner or business owner to know about any environmental hazards that may be in their neighborhood,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “Local governments need to be provided that type of information by the State so that it can be disseminated as quickly as possible. If Edison had been better informed, the cleanup at the Ford Plant would have been much safer for local residents.”
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 effects of an environmental hazard and its subsequent clean up are greatly reduced when everyone in the area knows what is happening and how best to protect themselves,” said Senator Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset, Chair of the Senate Environment Committee. “Municipal governments are the best equipped to inform local residents of environmental problems in their neighborhood and must be thoroughly involved in any clean up so they can take the proper precautions to protect residents and their property.”
The bill would also require the DEP, within 30 days after the date of enactment, to notify the governing body of each municipality in the State of the existence of the New Jersey master list of known hazardous discharge sites available on the DEP’s website.
The bill was approved by Assembly by a vote of 80-0. The Senate also passed it on a vote of concurrence to Assembly amendments by a vote of 39-0. The bill no goes to the Governor for his signature.